Video: Sea World’s Social Media Program and Measurement (7:10)

If you’re in need of a vacation, take this roller coaster ride with Shel Israel, who’s on a mission to explore social media when it comes to companies, a topic I’m focused on as a researcher. Sea World worked with Kami Huyse to “move the needle” to reach out to an influence community called “American Coaster Enthusiasts” to reach them using social media tools.

They used YouTube, Flickr to publish their media and encouraged the community to use the videos (creative commons rights) and were encouraging content to be created. You’ll learn that this six week campaign reaches specific downloads and activity, some were downloaded 100,000 times.

What about this makes a good strategy? Sea World found their passion community (many brands have one) figured out how to have a discussion with them using their tools, let go of their own content for it to spread and be used by that community, and resulted in positive increase in product (park visits) usage.

What could they do better? Sea World should involve the coaster enthusiasts to help design, build, and promote the next generation coaster. Sea World could also sponsor their site, hold and event for them, and figure out other ways to make them brand ambassadors.

Towards the end of the video, they make some pretty incredible findings on how people found out about the real-world park through the web.

Also, I recommend you follow Shel’s Israel’s blog, or his Twitter account to learn more the impact of social media on culture.

Is it just me, or did the opening remind you of an older (ok a lot older) version of Johnny Knoxville?

Update: Kami gives an summation of the whole campaign, over a year later. For counterpoint, econsultancy raises important questions about metrics and measurement.

  • Great recommendations Jeremiah. We did invite them to the media day event and over 30 of them showed up to ride the roller coaster (over and over). They did become amazing brand ambassadors for SeaWorld, and even helped out by contradicting some of the more negative comments about the ride.

  • Just to clarify one of your points a bit – I don’t think that “Design the rollercoasters” means that you turn over the engineering to the fans. Instead you bring them in to engage them in the process at the *appropriate* times when it makes *sense* to the design process.

    Having a great story to tell about having fans involved is a media/PR win, a community win, and a design win.

    (I mention this because one of the community myths I deal with is the assumption that “involving the fans” means “turning over the process”)

  • Kami thanks.

    Jake, that’s a good point, agreed.

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  • Great insight on this topic.. Sea World has a great following and is definitely learning to use new media to their advantage.

  • I liked the way that they went specifically after the coaster enthusiasts and also put up their images on flickr under creative commons.

    The lady acted surprised that for the first time that more people found out about the coaster online versus any other media. There just might be something to this social media and engagement thing after all. 😉

    Nice article.

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  • Well written! I can appreciate this, “They used YouTube, Flickr to publish their media and encouraged the community to use the videos (creative commons rights) and were encouraging content to be created. You’ll learn that this six week campaign reaches specific downloads and activity, some were downloaded 100,000 times.” Really, for presenting something on social that is used.

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  • Hi Jeremiah,
    Thanks for this video interview post. It's 2010 now, but your 2008 post is still one of the most excellent, 'doable' example (no hotshot advertising agencies with million dollar budgets) of how to use social media for marketing.

    I will forward this to small business owners who are still uncertain on how social media marketing works or how to use video advertising to improve brand awareness and sales.

    Thanks again, and will start exploring the rest of your site too.