SOPA, reddit, & GoDaddy: How brands can learn from social communities

On December 22nd, 2011, reddit community member, selfprodigy, posted the following on reddit: “GoDaddy supports SOPA, I’m transferring 51 domains & suggesting a move your domain day.” Within less than 24 hours, over 36,000 reddit members upvoted selfprodigy’s post to the front page of the website. GoDaddy, a supporter and contributing member of the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), updated its position against the legislation and removed its name from various lists of companies in support of the program. Brands seeking increased engagement in Social Media can learn new engagement strategies from the GoDaddy case. However, they will need to understand a few key lessons of how to leverage social communities, like reddit, for social media campaign wins.

The GoDaddy and reddit boycott Timeline:

  • Thu, 22 Dec 16:55 – selfprodigy posts a call to action on reddit for people to move their domain names from GoDaddy’s registrar service, due to its support of SOPA
  • Thu, 22 Dec 22:00 – GoDaddy reasserts its position on the Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA) via a blog post
  • Fri, 23 Dec 08:00 – GoDaddy reverses its stance on its blog and issues press release
  • Sat, 24 Dec 08:00 – Dailychanges reports that 25,000 Domain names were transferred from GoDaddy
  • Thu, 29 Dec – Namecheap (a GoDaddy competitor and active reddit contributer) reported 37,000 new domains registered since the initial boycott of GoDaddy

 

Influence with speed

Social Communities have the potential to quickly generate both rebellious and supportive grassroots campaigns in very short time periods. Brands that do not consider the collective power of social communities risk missing unique opportunities. GoDaddy did not consider that selfprodigy’s call to arms on reddit would generate brand-threatening support. Many brands are not yet experts in harnessing the power of grassroot influencers. However, this new influencer model is one key reason why social communities, such as reddit, thrive. These social communities are hubs for rapid information sharing and dissemination. When issues touch the nerve the of the community, the community will respond. GoDaddy’s initial reaction was to assert its position. “In a statement emailed to Ars Technica Thursday evening, the company said “Go Daddy has received some emails that appear to stem from the boycott prompt, but we have not seen any impact to our business.Ars Technica However, within 24 hours, the company made a full reversal and claimed it was now against SOPA.

Source: GoDaddy supports SOPA, I’m transferring 51 domains & suggesting a move your domain day

Education opportunities for Smart Brands
Social communities continuously self-educate and share new insights quickly. In order to organize a successful boycott of GoDaddy, the reddit community needed to provide its own process for members to move their domain names to other service providers. Companies, including Namecheap, Name.com, and Hover, capitalized quickly. Invited by community members for options, they quickly took advantage and created promotional campaigns and discount codes targeting reddit community members. The commentary nature of social communities made it extremely easy for community members to acquire new data and educate the community as needed. GoDaddy, as a brand, failed to engage the reddit community members with any education or insights of its own in response to the boycott. The company’s initial response was mainly reactive, limited to the GoDaddy blog. The company also closed blog commenting on its post reasserting support for SOPA. This contrasts significantly with another outsider, Rob Zerban, running for Congress. On December 28th, Rob Zerban, running against SOPA supporter, Paul Ryan, raised $15,000.00 in donations and received new volunteers, within just two days, on reddit, and with his own campaign. Mr. Zerban successfully raised awareness, financing, and new volunteers by hosting a reddit event called “Ask Me Anything” where community members may ask questions of the host. Rob Zerban educated redditors about his positions and received additional support for his political campaigns.

Scalable Engagement

Segmented communities create scalable engagement opportunities for brands willing to engage. Rob Zerban’s AMA on reddit, in response to the GoDaddy SOPA timeline, shows that social media engagement can be targeted and scaled on some platforms where social communities can come together. Two of reddit’s features make it easy for individuals to create communities and quickly engage around topics of interest. These are:

  • Subreddits where like-minded groups of users spend time with each other
  • Comment-voting with commentary. Although other social media communities can self-organize, reddit’s subreddit feature is easy, fast, and easily moderated by community members.

Conclusions for Digital Media Buyers & Planners

GoDaddy was blindsided by the collective influence of a social community built to easily scale engagement around user-generated topics and content. The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was one of many examples of how unknown individuals can secure influencer status within hours and build an effective marketing campaign. Digital Media buyers and planners demand platforms that can deliver either increased reach or improved targeting. The GoDaddy example showed that social communities, like reddit, can enhance targeting and drive viral impact online.

Would you like to learn more about how companies are engaging with reddit social communities? Please send us a note at info@thoughtleadr.com or contact us. We’d love to hear from you and share other case studies and lessons.