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Airbnb Economic Impact Interactive Infographic.
The results we got were pretty decent, given that we picked up a good amount of external links to the page (649 links from 102 different domains according to Majestic), which was built with the intention to do a 2-step link-building strategy. Far after the IG was published, it keeps picking up nice links and citations. Here are some of the great media outlets the piece was featured in Times Magazine; The Washington Post; LocalSEOGuide; Mashable; Virgin; CNet; Startup Bootcamp; Contently
Landing Pages for SxSW in Austin
Probably one of the projects I can say I learned the most from. For a large campaign at SxSW in Austin, I jumped in to help a different team to get a landing page up on the Airbnb blog, just 3 days before the campaign would kick off. With a tied schedule, the teams got full on in planning mode for the event to be memorable, some might even call it remarkable since they would meet up with their favorite celebrity. Crazy tight timeline, which forced me to cut some corners. And as SxSW is very important for Airbnb, the cutting corners and the feedback was a good learning! At the same time, the project also was my starting point for new learnings and critical input for my presentation I did later in the year at Authority Intensive in Dallas!
The Campaign was centered around 3 main celebrities who decorated Airbnb pop-up listings at the Airbnb Park.
Amidst the chaos and commotion of SXSW this year, Austin visitors and locals alike found respite at our pop-up Airbnb Park in East Austin. Over the course of five days, Airbnb Park offered up games, refreshments, unexpected acts of hospitality, and special events to attendees… We worked with special new hosts Snoop Dogg, Capital Cities, and Allen Stone to create unique Airbnb pop-up homes to feature at the Park. In collaboration with designer Emily Henderson, our musical hosts created three pop-up homes in their own unique design aesthetics. Two weeks prior to opening the Park, we launched an Instagram contest, #AirbnbMusic, prompting people to create a special “welcome” that spoke to the distinct style of each artist. Our Instagram community snapped some amazing photos of their welcomes, and three creative winners received VIP trips to SXSW to meet their artist hosts in person and get the full Airbnb at SXSW experience.
Snoop.. meeting the contest winners, having a good time..! Well you know what that means, right! The whole event got a lot of attention in the press, Twitter/Facebook. In my old days, this would have meant a homerun…
Although we got the campaign pages live on time for the events in Austin to kick off, there was a major thing I overlooked. The pages were not mobile friendly, where all people at SxSW are mobile and on the move. How in the world can you read the program and timing for events to kick off on a small screen which is such a bas user experience! Ouch!
If we would have worked on a story board for SxSW, and considered all people are on the move from point a to point B, we might have been in a better place from there… Would have planned for the prototype and design reviews with the understanding of how our guests would access the information about the event: on a mobile phone…Where the product design and user experience was optimal, AND have SEO success on top of that…
Still, due to working with celebrities, we got great coverage in major news outlets. For SEO I made sure we would redirect the Austin-2014 page to a blog post describing the whole event. You can read it here.
Over the years I’ve learned a lot from Brian Clark, Copyblogger.com. So when I learned his company was organizing a conference, I reached out to share some of my knowledge with him and his audience to give back. I landed my very first 45 minutes keynote, just one speaking slot after one of my all time marketing hero’s: Seth Godin. Yikes, I better bring my A-Game! And what an intro Brian gave me, wow, I couldn’t ask for a more generous introduction and testimonial.
I first met Dennis at a conference, when he was director of SEO for eBay, pretty serious position, and he was just sitting at a table speaking with his Dutch accent, and just mind blowing stuff. I sat there, slightly drooling, just listening to the stuff he was talking about. Very creative solutions, nothing black hat but very creative. And the best SEO’s out there I’ve always found to be the most creative thinkers. And that is why a lot of them are having a good time with the transition to content marketing, even if its against their will.
— Brian Clark
The topic I picked was inspired by the example of my campaign page for the SxSW event, and the design focused ethos at Airbnb; Snow White.
- What is the person thinking & feeling in each frame?
- What motivates these characters to progress in their journeys?
- What opportunities exist to improve or enhance the experience for them?
- How does your work influence what the character feels, knows, thinks, decides, or does?
This resulted in a new line of thinking I developed, which has been further refined over the course of 2014!
SEO is the outcome of a great product, designed to maximize the user experience
Really these sum it all up:
- SEO is the outcome of a great product experience. Not the objective.
- The key to a strong brand is sweating the details behind the user experience.
- Critique and review, and storyboarding are critical components of web product design.
- Context matters if you want to get found — Design and SEO working together.
- Short-term SEO tactics don’t work very long.
- Stop focusing on “SEO” and instead focus on people searching. What are they thinking and feeling? What is motivating them to take action?
Superbrand Marketing Offsite
While I was traveling for the Authority Intensive conference, news broke internally at Airbnb we hired a new CMO. Wow, we hired Jonathan Mildenhall from The Coca-Cola Company. Why was I getting excited? Well, here I am, at a content marketing conference hearing the news the God-Motherf***-Father of content marketing is joining Airbnb to lead the marketing efforts. I mean, from the moment Coke published their Content 2020 strategy I felt I could work with the man who inspired the whole revival of Coke as a creative marketing company. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you just need to review the Content 202 video below here on YouTube (17 minutes)
In the first week, I got the privilege to get Jonathan up to speed on Airbnb’s Online Marketing initiatives, and he proposes I would organize an offsite for the full team, what is now called Superbrand Marketing. He must have read my LinkedIn profile, as I have some experience in this field in my past jobs.
For 6 weeks I worked on this project. Finding a location, matching the agenda with external speakers, booking catering with the Airbnb chefs and much more. The result; 2 days of inspiration, hard work and a read map to the end of the year with processes, plans and performance metrics.
Behind the Content
While I was visiting Denver for Authority Intensive, I connected with Jason Miller, who was also a speaker. Our paths had crossed before, but we never really connected at the level we did at this conference. So many aspects of Jason’s talk resonated with me, I just had to connect with him. At while at an informal speakers dinner I grabbed the chance. And guess what, we totally clicked. We ended up talking about content marketing, social media and online for a long time.
For one of his projects, Behind the Content, Jason asked me if I could provide him with some good Airbnb examples of content marketing campaigns, and the story behind it. Since we just launched the Economic Impact Infographic earlier in the year, I proposed we would use this project, especially as I was already cooking up my next one.
Taking a cue from VH1’s Behind the Music, we’ve teamed up with our pals at LinkedIn to bring you Behind the Content. In this new guide, we expose the true stories behind how (and why) some of the web’s most captivating content came into existence. While Behind the Content does not featureMilli Vanilli or M.C. Hammer, it does showcase some of the coolest content creators around from big brands, to agencies, to individual designers and developers.
The white paper was distributed through LinkedIn and Hubspot, with a pretty nice teaser to drive downloads;
Where did the inspiration for the campaign come from?
“Over the last two years, Airbnb has been working with an external research and consulting firm to map out its economic impact.
We found that Airbnb’s guests have an impact on the local economies of a city’s neighborhoods. As Airbnb listings are more spread out over a city, the Airbnb guests bring more tourist money into neighborhoods which usually are not often visited by guests of the city who typically stay in a hotel. The data shows that 76% of the Airbnb’s you can rent in these eight cities are actually outside the main hotel districts.
So after conducting eight studies of several large cities around the world, we aggregated the information we found into the Economic Impact content piece.”
– Dennis Goedegebuure (Head of Global SEO, Airbnb)
The lesson learned; great content will get you additional exposure through your relationships. Everybody likes to share EPIC content!
Wall and Chain – Berlin Wall story
Inspired by the success of earlier campaigns in the year, and confident enough to propose the idea and opportunity to a brand new CMO, I took some risk to pitch the opportunity to break into a very relevant cultural event happening in one of the top markets in Europe; the 25th anniversary of the Berlin Wall coming down. Airbnb had highlighted the story of two former wall guards who met in an Airbnb listing in former East-Berlin before, but never at a scale as I envisioned. This was a chance to tell this wonderful story as a stand alone, not as as a paragraph of a larger conversation. This was the chance to apply some of the Coca-Cola Content 2020 principles to an Airbnb campaign.
This video sums it up nicely.
I will go deeper into the specifics of this campaign, with the whole strategy behind it from a content marketing perspective, as well as the social content amplification strategy, and the results in a later post, which you can find here; Berlin Wall and Chain. For now, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter to get that post automatically delivered in your inbox through email. The full campaign website is still up and running at WallandChain.com
Working on this project was my biggest jump in experience and learnings this year. I’ve had some great successes so far in my career, but I believe I can call this campaign my best creative work yet! And others agreed that the campaign was some great work…
As I mentioned, I will devote a full blog post on the whole Wall and Chain campaign.
Berlin Economic Impact Infographic
Next to the animated video of the Wall and Chain story, we combined the whole campaign with an Interactive Infographic of the Airbnb Economic Impact study for Berlin. This time, the design team hired a local designer to get the best local flavor in the full story telling of the infographic. The attention for detail here speaks to what is one of the core values for Airbnb: Every frame matters.
By hiring a local designer, you stimulate the local economy. The designer for this piece is an immigrant in Berlin, originally from Israel.
- Having an economic impact on local economy; check
- Cultural relevant; check
You can find the full infographic at: Airbnb’s Economic Impact on local economies in Berlin.
I’m sure I can call 2014 one successful year when it comes to projects I initiated and was leading. The list of 7 successful projects here does not even include the major brand relaunch Airbnb did, for which I worked on the blog redesign. There is so much more I could mention here, but I will stick to the big rocks that made the year successful.
Obviously I couldn’t do this all by myself. I’m so blessed with a great team at home, who make my life enjoyable outside of work. Furthermore, there are teams and specific colleagues at Airbnb who have worked with me. These people make Airbnb a special company. More specific: Willow, AlexD & Jonathan all played a major role in my success in 2014. Thank you for that!
As I only highlighted the successes here, there were a couple of valuable lessons learned as well. Based on these lessons, 2015 might look completely different, where we have started the new year with some major changes. But thats for a next blogpost!