Social Media Case Studies: Boosting the Odds of Success

OddsWe often work with startups in “stealth mode,” who want to maintain their IP and ensure they are able to get out the door to the wider world — but, on their terms.  After all, you only get one launch.

This is inordinately important to entrepreneurs who have poured everything into their projects.   They want to makes sure everything is just right.

However, the days of secret launches are harder and harder to achieve. The nature of Social Media means anything with a high interest level is harder to keep under wraps, and once it’s out, well … you know the rest.

This was the challenge presented to us by Book of Odds.

Ever ask yourself “what are the odds?”  Book of Odds exists to answer that question, while giving that answer meaning through correlating it to something easy to understand.   For example, with all the Tiger Woods news, you might wonder the odds that a married or cohabiting man has cheated during the relationship (1 in 4.76!) … The odds we face in everyday life are fascinating, and thanks to Book of Odds founders Amram Shapiro, Louise Firth Campbell & Co., now they’re also searchable and tweetable!

Being rigorous researchers, Amram and Louise were diligent about understanding how SHIFT planned to drive interest and traffic, ensuring the company was seen as both credible and entertaining.  Developing a strategy that brought key audience influencers into the mix was exciting — but what if word got out beyond the select few we invited?

SHIFT’s take — “that’s actually the point.”  Let the influencers “do their job” of influencing their own select networks … but rather than target “the usual suspects” we performed research on the leading lights in key verticals, e.g., education and health, enabling Book of Odds to custom-invite these brainiacs to an exclusive private beta that was targeted, relevant and interesting.   These first invitees were, indeed, likely to want to spread the word, and they were encouraged to offer the pre-launch log-in codes to their circle of friends.

Again, even as the outreach expanded beyond the Big Brains into more media-centric circles, it didn’t just mean “traditional media” — i.e., the Freakanomics blog of the New York Times and a local Web Innovation event audience were among the first folks to be invited to the sneak peak.  Both subsequently asked to be able to widely share the log-in info with their readers and members, all prior to the “formal launch.”

Odds1During this period Book of Odds also commenced tweeting about different odds related to daily events.  Even though the site was inaccessible to the general public, we wanted to seed the larger audience with some compelling tidbits (after all, traffic is crucial to this type of site).

The duality of this approach  — full access to a highly select group of scrupulously researched influencers alongside sneak-peeks of relevant data to the masses  — gave Book of Odds a fair bit of credibility when SHIFT made its push to the larger world on the formal launch date.

Thus we enticed a broad swath of visitors that the company would never have reached if it remained in “stealth mode” until the Big Launch Day.

Launch week itself saw over 120 articles, including brand names such as WSJ, Howard Stern (Sirius Radio), Fast Company, Mashable and NPR.  The launch day also found Book of Odds the 12th most-searched term on Google!

Book-of-odds-logoFast forward 2+ months and through the consistent feeding and customizing of odds-related material to a wide assortment of websites, radio and broadcast outlets, Book of Odds now consistently ranks in the top 5 organic results when searching for “odds” on Google — a huge win for a company whose main objective is to be the authoritative resource for anything odds-related.

Unfortunately you can’t search their website for “Odds of a Successful Company Launch,” but we like to think that this particular approach increased the chance of success for the Book of Odds!

By the way — in case you haven’t clicked the Book of Odds link yet, I assure you — it’s fun.  Collect the odds that describe you, create lists, calibrate your own risks, etc. For example, did you know that the risks of dying in January are 1 in 10.89 — the highest of any other month?  Be careful next time you grab that snow shovel!

Posted on: January 14, 2010 at 10:45 am By Todd Defren
20 Responses to “Social Media Case Studies: Boosting the Odds of Success”


  • Jae Borgelt says:

    Hi, great point. Posts like this post are why I follow your blog. Have a great 2010!

  • Alexis Ceule says:

    I am so happy to see how you used social media pre-launch. As a consumer and social media junkie, I never quite got the whole stealth mode and sudden reveal on one single day. It was like having the party of a lifetime, but you didn’t invite anyone to come. So the teasers and the invites to check it out early… awesome!

  • Rex Riepe says:

    I really like SHIFT’s approach here. I’ll definitely check out the Book of Odds– looks neat.

    Concerning January, maybe people hold on through the holiday season?

    Amram: Thanks for sharing. I’m always excited at seeing newsroom formats, what is/isn’t included. Sparkling example here.

  • Todd should also mention that Book of Odds made use of the template of the Social Media News Room which Todd helped invent and popularize and today it is a magnet for journalists and those interested in developments in the research community!

    Working with Shift has been a great experience, especially given our ability to speak to so many issue from health to pop culture, and to so many audiences. We keep them on their toes and they do the same for us!

    As they say on ebay, “highly recommended!”

    Amram Shapiro

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