How We Fought A Marketing PANDEMIC And Generated 826K Social Media Impressions In Just 6 Days

Truman Tang

Marketing to other marketers is hard.

Haven’t we seen it all? We know what good marketing looks like. We can spot inauthenticity a mile away.

So, when it came time to create an out-of-the-box way to promote Influitive’s advocate marketing platform, we knew we needed to break through the clutter and use social media to spread our message.

Our mission

Fight the marketing PANDEMIC

At Influitive, we believe marketing is broken. Marketers push out message after message, while customers grow increasingly tired of being marketed to. No matter how good the content, buyers don’t trust it if it comes from a marketing department.

We think this mundane, corporate-driven marketing is a problem that easily spreads from business to business. It’s our mission to end this PANDEMIC.


To help put an end to mundane marketing, we created an interactive, online contest called PANDEMIC. We borrowed the classic outbreak storyline from Hollywood, as it had mass appeal and aligned with our message.

The outbreak theme also allowed us to create a sense of urgency, as players had to race against the clock to save humanity from a catastrophic virus. During the six-day contest, teams of four worked together to collect clues and solve puzzles. The first team to cross the finish line won $4,000. The remaining teams were entered in a draw to win the $800 second prize.

At the end of the game, we directed players to our PANDEMIC Manifesto, where they could learn more about our mission and what prompted us to create the game.

Our business goals

Drive brand awareness and highlight a fun use case for our software

In addition to spreading our PANDEMIC Manifesto, we also wanted to drive engagement with our brand and advocate marketing software. We ran the game from our platform, AdvocateHub, so players had to return to it for clues. In addition, the game provided an interesting use case for our technology, as customers and prospects could see what’s possible with it.

We also wanted to see if just a few people could create a tsunami of activity around our brand. That’s why we made PANDEMIC an exclusive experience and personally invited 140 select customers, prospects, analysts and PR professionals to play.

What we learned

4 keys to running an engaging online contest

Here’s what PANDEMIC taught us about running an engaging online contest:

1. Recruiting for team play is a double-edged sword.

Some players had a hard time recruiting teams, which created a barrier to entry. We tried to lower this barrier by allowing people to sign up individually and then pairing them with other singles.

Despite this barrier, we found that teammates motivated each other to complete the game. This kept our engagement rates high. At least 96% of the people who signed up for PANDEMIC played and 93% stayed all six days.

One of the teams summed up their thoughts on team motivation through their own insightful post here.

2. Providing a teaser gets people excited.

Movies have trailers and posters to get the market excited. Our contest added an extra layer of complexity, because we actually had people participate rather than just sit in front of a screen and watch.

Sure, we created this video and poster…


But we needed a teaser to educate potential players and get them excited.

So, we created an introductory game to PANDEMIC, where singles could log in before the game started to get a feel for its dynamics. This helped with recruitment and got our players excited for the real game. Players also promoted themselves as being ill or captured, which piqued their friends’ curiosity and brought more people to PANDEMIC.

3. Players need a fun multimedia experience.

When we initially tested the game, we found that our clues were too hard. We toned it down so players would have fun and feel a sense of accomplishment.

We applied a heavy multimedia approach to keep things fresh and drive engagement. In addition to written clues, we provided video, audio and photographic clues. We also directed players to other websites and microsites we created to liven up their experience.

4. Gamification drives engagement.

PANDEMIC was a timed contest, so everyone started and finished at the same time. Our system monitored points, but they were never used to determine the winning team. What we noticed was that players were motivated, even after their part of the game ended. The points brought out their competitive spirit and got them to complete more activities in our hub.

The campaign results

Players completed more than 5,600 activities and spread our manifesto on social media

We surpassed our activity goal by 80%.

Before the game, we estimated that players would complete 3,000 activities, however, we were surprised to see that the players completed over 5,600 activities, with the primary activity being the spreading of our PANDEMIC Manifesto across social media.

We also asked our players if they would play again, as well as recommend the game to a friend or colleague. We received an overwhelmingly positive response, with an average rating of 9/10. And we received some great feedback!

“We had a lot of fun competing in Pandemic and we all learned a lot about how the Influitive app works…Cool idea.” -Elle Woulfe, Director of Demand Generation, Lattice Engines



“This was both creative and incredibly engaging. Truly awesome campaign! Great work everyone : )” -Ryan Schwartz, Director of Marketing Systems & Operations, DocuSign

“Really fun idea and showed how powerful the Influitive platform can be…” -Courtney Hart, Social Media Manager, Xactly Corp.

From PANDEMIC, we created a tsunami of social activity about our brand. During the six days the contest ran, we received 826,280 impressions on Twitter that reached over 137,472 accounts.

Is the PANDEMIC really over?

We successfully spread the word that marketing is broken and customers are tired of getting messages that come from marketing departments.

However, the PANDEMIC isn’t over – yet. We need more marketers to help us spread the cure. Help put an end to mundane marketing by sharing the PANDEMIC Manifesto with your peers and colleagues.

The only way to stop this is to do it together…

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