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From the 13th Annual Shorty Awards

Cisco Designed Instagram Launch

Entered in Instagram Presence

About this entry

The original presence of the @CiscoSmallBusiness handle was focused on just the technology and our product offerings, and we knew that SB is much more than that, it's about the people. From a strategy that was once focused on spamming the audience and lacking a two-way dialogue, our team approached this channel with 3 phases: 1) cleansing the channel of bot followers 2) wiping the entire channel clean of the ‘spam’ posts 3) starting fresh with a reimagined design for the channel, putting the small business owners at the forefront.  

Our core objectives for the channel were to increase overall engagements by 30%, increase the dialogue between Cisco and our followers by 20%, develop a pipeline of user-generated content, and drive demand for our small business product offerings. In addition to these goals, our team was tasked with overcoming the challenges of building a community around the new Cisco Designed portfolio, changing the conversation to put small business owners at the center, and to change the perception that Cisco is too big and too complex for small businesses. When COVID hit, we shifted our strategy slightly to turn our focus even more on supporting small businesses by sharing their stories of resiliency and providing resources to aid them during such a difficult time.  

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Cisco is a big company that was on the verge of launching a new portfolio ahead of one of our biggest events of the year and we knew that we were going to get a lot of net-new eyeballs. Users weren’t discovering our content in-feed at all. That is why we thought about how users were going to initially discover our brand through our profile grid, so we built the social experience around the grid. 

Using 3-grid formatting, we boiled down the small business success story into three core elements: The People, The Technology, and The Dream. This is because technology decisions for a small business is a big deal. These customers need to know that the technology works for businesses like theirs. They don’t have time to watch a 3-minute video, they’re just trying to protect and grow their businesses. 

Our team knew that we couldn’t just create an engaging social experience then drive to any regular .com page...we had to do things differently. That is when we partnered across our digital experiences and product teams to develop a fully integrated experience. As Cisco built this new experience completely tailored to small business needs, we made sure our creative strategy for our social accounts maintained the same editorial aesthetic to avoid the dreaded “jarred experience” social can easily create. 

From experience to content to design, everything was about the user. That is ultimately why each series was then a spotlight to share human stories of success and the role of Cisco. This was the first ever and entirely UGC supported business account for Cisco and changed the profile from a product page into a true community. 

We began our 3-grid strategy by introducing our followers to the new look of the channel, and the three pillars of our Cisco Designed brand: Simple, Flexible, Secure. Our goal was to show the new purpose of the channel in simple language that any small business owner could understand. Our team then began curating small business stories from several teams across the globe, spanning multiple business functions, with the goal of finding small business owners or Cisco partners with captivating stories. Once we received the story, our design team created three posts for each story: the person behind the business, the dream that made their business happen, and the technology that fuels that dream. 

We knew these types of stories existed across our global and regional teams, but they took on an entirely new tone when these small business owners were navigating the challenges of COVID. Our team noticed one central theme across all of these small business stories: optimism. Sure, these times were incredibly tough for small business owners, but we noticed that these SBs were producing incredible work through innovative means. Whether it was a natural skincare company pivoting to produce hand sanitizer or a salon creating an e-commerce platform within a matter of weeks, these stories offered glimpses of hope and resiliency during such a difficult time for small businesses.  


Our north star for this entire campaign was about changing the perception customers had of Cisco. You don’t need a brand study to know that the easiest way to tell if you’ve humanized a brand is when users actually want to have conversations with your company. This was something that wasn’t happening before we started to execute this strategy. No one was inviting Cisco to their neighborhood BBQ. While we can point to the quantitative and our 420% increase in overall engagements and 174% increase in comments, we started to see the quality of conversations come in like never before. Not only did our followers begin interacting with our posts, but there were even mini conversations breaking out in the comments, and users were asking about Cisco Small Business. 

Our strategy also paid off big to achieve our goals around demand. Not only did we increase pipeline by engaging users early on, but social became a primary source of demand generation for our small business portfolio. 


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