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New Cisco push is heavily social

Cisco is relying heavily on social media in a new campaign for its Web conferencing program, Webex. The campaign also targets a broader audience than previous efforts.

Last week, Cisco launched the Pass The Ball Web site globally following a soft launch earlier in the month. The site is intended to be a destination where people can share ideas about science, health or just about anything, collaborate with others on improving those ideas and work toward making them a reality.

“After talking with customers, we learned that the thing that gets people excited and talking about an idea is collaboration with others and bringing that idea to life,” said Deborah Holstein, director of marketing, Cisco Collaboration Software Group.  Pass the Ball. The marketing campaign in support of it is meant to illustrate how Webex can facilitate the collaborative process while also getting people pumped up about sharing their ideas, she added.

On the site, a video shows people literally passing a ball from one to another to illustrate the idea of collaboration. It also highlights the campaign’s partnership with Teachers Without Borders: Cisco will donate to the nonprofit every time someone shares an idea or rates an idea on the site.

Already, 500 ideas have been shared worldwide and approximately 3,000 people are rating ideas daily. Users aren’t required to create an account to share an idea. However, once someone wants to manage an idea by adding video or editing comments, an account must be created.

“We are trying to reach a broader audience than Webex has typically gone after in the past,” said Holstein. “We want to reach all people who have an idea” and show them that “Webex can help  bring it to life,” she continued.
Webex’s previous efforts tended to focus primarily on business professionals, many of whom already know that this technology already exists. More broadly, however, there are still consumers that aren’t aware of Webex’s capabilities, Holstein said. 

When someone is particularly interested in an idea, he or she can join a team that will collaborate on the idea.
Cisco will sponsors Webinars for the teams of the most popular ideas. A year of free Cisco WebEx services will be awarded to the owners of the top-rated ideas.

To promote the effort, Cisco is placing a bigger emphasis than before on trying to build the conversation around Pass the Ball on various social media sites. In addition to being able to share and rate ideas, visitors can also share ideas with many of the most popular social networks. Cisco also will be Tweeting about the site and campaign and posting to the Webex group on Facebook as well as the Teachers Without Borders cause page on Facebook, among others.

“We’re really putting additional emphasis on social media and engaging around that” for this campaign, said Holstein.

There will also be radio promotions in certain markets, with on-air personalities encouraging listeners to create ideas on Pass the Ball and the stations offering their own contests around creating ideas.

In addition, banner ads will appear on general audience newspaper sites in certain areas to support radio promotions, on sites within Federated Media’s TechCrunch and Business/Marketing networks and on sites like SourceForge and LinkedIn.

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