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From the 6th Annual Shorty Awards

BuzzFeed Virgin Mobile "Always On" Social Advertising

Finalist in Telecom


The social Web is already a competitive space for brands to attract and maintain user engagement among fans and followers. And it can be an even more crowded space in the telecom industry where brands want to attract and maintain brand loyalty by providing the kind of social content that users care about. This challenge proved to be a great opportunity for BuzzFeed and Virgin Mobile to partner together to create the first-of-its kind 24/7 newsroom strategy based on the social conversations that were taking place on the social Web. For example as soon as the VMAs and Miley Cyrus started trending on the social Web, BuzzFeed and Virgin Mobile were inspired to create this post, “13 Celebrities Posing With The Old Versions of Themselves," which paired famous celebrities with an older photo of themselves. Featured celebrities included Miley Cyrus posing with a younger version of herself as well as Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake and Robert Pattinson. The post resonated with users who loved seeing some of their favorite celebrities paired side-by-side in a single photo that captured the past and present. It was a way to engage with users who were already fluent and interested in pop culture and BuzzFeed and Virgin Mobile were able to jumpstart the conversation on the social Web by creating and publishing the most relevant and timely content that encouraged social sharing and positioned Virgin Mobile as a trusted source in social content marketing and publishing. By providing the social content that users were eager to discover and share with their friends, BuzzFeed and Virgin Mobile’s "Always On" newsroom strategy created a new method of successful content marketing on the social Web and achieved its goal of increasing brand affinity, jumpstarting the social conversation for users and becoming a trusted brand for online users who discovered their content through social sources. Social is the new starting point for how we discover, consume and share news with our friends. And now that mobile and social has finally converged, Virgin Mobile understands the immediacy and importance of capturing the moment on the social Web. The Always On newsroom strategy connects users not only with relevant content and timely news that is trending on the Web, but also in capturing the moments and emerging trends such as videobombs as highlighted in “20 GIFS that Prove Video Bombs are the New Photobombs." This post is a perfect example of social content that combines humor, entertainment and informs the user about an emerging social trend, known as “videobombing," which not only triggered a new social dialogue that exploded online but also encouraged users to share the story with their friends. Understanding who their audience is and what they care about, Virgin Mobile built and continues to successfully maintain a relationship with their social audience by actively engaging and communicating with the same newsroom style immediacy, ensuring an ongoing conversation with their users and keeping true to their “always on" message. ( The results have been remarkable with a whopping 5 million earned content engagements and 4.7 million paid content engagements in 2012 alone. The shareable social content saw a brand lift of over 150% and currently there are over 7.5 million views per month. Virgin Mobile quickly established itself as a trusted publisher with a growing number of users that turned to Virgin Mobile and BuzzFeed for more relevant content. As Ron Faris, former CMO, Virgin Mobile, USA explained, “social content allows us to tell the Virgin Mobile story, and that in turn excites people about the brand and what it stands for. We’ve seen lifts of over 150% in consideration for their next phone purchase. These results are some of the most impactful we’ve seen showcasing how social advertising can drive to purchase intent." The BuzzFeed Virgin Mobile case study measured brand affinity based on whether a viewer had no exposure to the content, viewed the content as a result of paid media, or received the content through social sharing like a Tweet or on Facebook. Users who discovered the content from social sources had the highest growth in consideration with intent to purchase. Users who were exposed via social also identified with Virgin Mobile as a brand that understood its users as individuals and what their interests were with a nearly 324% in social brand lift. The study also measured how the frequency of exposure affected brand affinity and consideration with intent to purchase. Users who engaged with Virgin Mobile content at least 5 to 9 times saw a significant lift with nearly 280% in social brand lift, confirming that Virgin Mobile’s “always on" content marketing strategy that combines art & science of storytelling translates to successful measurable results.

Strategy and Execution


Entrant Company / Organization Name

BuzzFeed Virgin Mobile "Always On" Newsroom


Entry Credits