For the past four years, Cisco has been at the forefront of forecasting trends in global and regional data center traffic, data center virtualization, cloud computing and more. And in those years, a quick press release, perhaps a timed blog post and a bit of industry buzz have herald the arrival of a new Global Cloud Index (GCI) study. But, with the fast-paced accessibility of social media and news being just a quick “like,” “share,” or “tweet” away, our social media team knew the changing landscape called for an evolution in how the fourth annual GCI study would need to be promoted and shared.

Often one of our most anticipated releases, the Cisco Global Cloud Index (GCI): Forecast and Methodology, 2013 – 2018 (GCI) is an informative – but fairly lengthy – document. Not wanting this to become an obstacle in sharing the study’s key findings, we set out to promote the study findings in an entirely new way, harnessing the power, flexibility in trying new approaches, and extended reach of social media.

Cisco’s social media team knew it would take an innovative campaign to (1) promote the numbers-heavy study findings, (2) showcase the data relevance, and (3) maximize awareness potential as well as thought leadership for the GCI release. Considering the targeted audience – bloggers, analysts, media, government regulators and service providers – the team created sixteen distinctive and “shareable” digital assets. In coming up with the social media strategy, the team considered the following:

  • Leverage micro video content (no more than 15 seconds) that appeals to social media audiences, especially executives with limited time to consume content.
  • Balance the number of short and long-form content. Short-form content could be leveraged as a “hook” while long-form content was best for those who are now interested in learning more.
  • Be relatable. Highly engaging content needed to be more organic, and less “corporate” and Cisco-centric.
  • Cater to our audience and understand their attention span and time are limited. Social media audiences crave direct outreach and engagement in the current world where there is an overabundance of information and content.
  • Up level specific topics of interest that resonate with our audience. Our research findings show that influencers and customers expressed high interest in study findings about global data center traffic growth, increasing consumer cloud storage use, private vs. public cloud expansion and adoption, and global cloud readiness. So we focused on those topics while creating content.
  • Offer a menu of assets for different types of audience based on their content consumption behavior. While the press and analysts prefer information shared in the form of infographics or white paper, an executive audience prefer consuming content in the form of videos.

We also focused on extending the lifespan of the GCI campaign beyond release date, unlike other companies that focus solely on the “day of” announcement and then move on to the next big thing. This integrated campaign was a Cisco-first and several standout pieces leveraged the unique characteristics and “pull” of social media:

The final result was an integrated campaign incorporating classic research methods and using a menu of “shareable” digital assets that were highly-engaging, organic and addressed the social media’s audiences craving for direct outreach and engagement. Ranging from Vine and Instagram videos to a companion white paper, the research conducted by the social media team was coupled with their social media savvy to identify and create the ideal assets to share key insights from the GCI.

The comprehensive list of assets we created were shared across the world’s most popular social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, blog, SlideShare, YouTube), with a few proving as social standouts with Cisco’s audience:

  • Vine (1, 2, 3) and Instagram (1, 2) Videos  – Short, shareable and engaging video content were the keys to using Vine and Instagram to drive awareness for the GCI. Prioritizing key content for the short segments, Cisco culled insights from analysts, influencers and media who followed previous GCI’s release to research their main subjects of interest. This strategy decided the four topics highlighted. Using stop-motion animation, a Cisco first, Cisco created engaging videos to showcase data trends. Each video used graphical or text elements to relate to the audience. For example, Instagram 2 was released right before the year-end holidays with a holiday theme humanizing the GCI.


    • Announcement Blog–This blog was a high-level overview of the GCI and included one short-form and one long-form video. Readers were invited to join Cisco’s Twitter conversation using #CiscoGCI and encouraged to tweet questions as well.
    • Infographic and Micro-Infographics – In a series of infographics, Cisco brought key findings of the GCI to life. The first infographic Cisco shared was a single snapshot of specific data findings, color-coded to highlight trends in global data traffic, specialized data types, regional differences and projects for Internet adoption by country and more.

  • Interactive Webcast – Specifically targeting technical managers in service provider companies who have stake in purchasing decisions and designing and implementing secured networks, more than 100 key industry players joined this discussion, getting answers to questions regarding cloud readiness of their companies, network requirements and more that pertains to their specific positions.
  • YouTube VideoIn a humorous take on a classic television show, a Rough Collie, well-versed in cloud traffic and workloads, ultimately “saves” and educates his seemingly clueless owner on statistics regarding global cloud traffic.


In addition to these assets, a companion white paper, Cloud Readiness tool, Android and iOS applications were created, providing multiple sources for reference and research. A bit of customization came into play through the GCI Highlights Tool, giving users the opportunity to select data of interest from regions across the world with individual category updates such as Data Center/Cloud Traffic Forecast, Business vs. Consumer Traffic and Workload Forecast.

The GCI received an unprecedented number of social mentions and conversations, including 1,251 conversations surrounding the GCI and 5.2 million estimated impressions. Major industry magazines and websites such as Forbes, InfoWorld, NetworkWorld and Yahoo Finance GCI statistic shares generated hundreds of tweets and dozens of shares on Facebook and LinkedIn. To date, the campaign has received 2,381 conversations, 1,500 social engagements, 14,626 clicks, 11.8 million impressions, proving the extended lifespan of the campaign was incredibly successful, all without media support. As for the innovative approach of short-form videos, the Vines alone received 10,000+ loops, and the entire video series generated more than 1 million impressions and 2,000 engagements.

It’s no small effort to gather and organize the information found in the GCI. And the ante was definitely upped when our social media team challenged itself to simplify the study’s forecasts for global data center and cloud-based IP traffic trends. But, the campaign did much more than that. Even after its 2014 release, the GCI continues to stand as an accomplishment of social media outreach for Cisco, demonstrating how today’s ground-breaking campaigns can still resonate in our tomorrows.


Ying Shen

No Longer with Cisco