Trying to tell a story with a very technical product is challenging for many B2B brands. Many struggle to get their message across in a succinct and efficient way, but most of all, many of these brands struggle with creativity. Creativity is an essential component of effective marketing, and creativity was definitely the route Cisco took. We took a chance and actually humanized our network fabric family, the Network Convergence System (NCS).  By incorporating user-owned videos with humorous scenarios, leveraging popular Vine celebrities, and making the NCS’ benefits visual, we were able to thoroughly tell its story and make it relatable to everyone – not just the technical crowd.

The campaign was all encompassing of all things social. The integrative campaign (official hashtag #SystemForIoE) used Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Vine, community, blogs, Storify and SlideShare. If there was an audience that needed to be reached, Cisco was going to reach them.

Combining humor with technology

The NCS was designed to meet the demands of the Internet of Everything (IoE), Cisco’s flagship campaign defined as connecting people, processes, data and things. We needed to find a creative way to showcase the campaign’s key messages that made sense to the global audience as they were targeting many regions, including Latin America, Middle East, Europe, Asia-Pac and the United States. After sifting through a few dozen ideas and thousands of different humorous clips from around the world, we decided on the top three clips that resonated best with all the different countries. This is one of the reasons why you won’t see anyone talking in any specific language in the series of three videos. Schadenfreude is also a sort of humor used in these family-friendly videos that are well understood and well-received by the global audience. It was the one humor the world has in common.

The first video shows a boat dragging a crane into the water, versus the other way around. The copy reads: “The Internet of Everything demands the ability to handle workloads we can’t quite imagine. So we’re introducing a system that redefines workload capacity.” It is then reinforced with the tagline that NCS is “Built for the workload of everything.”

The two other YouTube videos were equally as funny, highlighting how NCS is “built for the speed of everything” and “built for the intelligence of everything.”  In just the first six weeks, social promotions around these social videos garnered more than 5,000 total video views with no paid promotion.

Leveraging Vine celebrity’s influence and creativity in a Vine video series

We also partnered with four* Vine celebrities to develop artistic interpretations of the benefits of the NCS on the consumer level to showcase when Internet of Everything is done right, service providers can impact even the smallest aspects of the consumers’ lives.   Each Vine celebrity was tasked to take a unique perspective on the prompt “Cisco NCS can support trillions of transactions.” While each Vine was distinct, one common theme came up, that the Internet of Everything requires a system pretty substantial to withhold the ability to connect everything from ambulance to phone to even a banana. This fresh content from Cisco was eye-catching, interesting and helped establish Cisco as a creative thought leader in an innovative new field. The campaign led to great results with more than 16,000 revines, 57,000+ “likes” on the Vines and 1,900+ comments combined on all four Vines.

 *The fourth Vine can be viewed here.

Making a technical product’s messaging visual and engaging

In addition to the creative social videos and Vines, we ran social graphics on our Twitter, Facebook and Google+ pages as supplements to further hone down the key messages to our target audience and to drive excitement for Cisco’s innovation. In total there were 32 social graphics, all of which were translated and localized by the Cisco Japan, Latin America, and the European teams. The regional teams’ overall feedback was considered for the graphics to make sure the content was relevant and inclusive.

Social graphics ran for almost three months to highlight NCS’ capabilities in everyday life—how a traffic signal can alert your alarm clock of traffic congestion— as well as trivia graphics to better engage the audience to better understand how Cisco enables some of the most common household electronics such as tablets, TVs, and smartphones as a way to showcase that Cisco has consistently been in the background supporting a lot of the technology in our lives over the years and that Cisco will continue to do so in the world of Internet of Everything. The team truly approached this campaign from all angles and its results proved successful.  To date, the campaign has generated 16.9 million impressions and more than 6,767 online conversations.

Connected Traffic Management

disruptive tech-spanish



The humanizing impact

Campaign tactics including teaser videos, announcements, blog posts and more were just the beginning of this campaign. In the first six weeks, we garnered more than 14 million impressions, 17,000+ click-throughs and 1,100+ uses of the #SystemForIoE hashtag. The team’s Twitter following also grew by 650 while Facebook fans grew by 924.

When compared to similar-caliber announcements from key competitors, we created much higher results on all social networks almost multiplying impressions by four more than the next closest competitor.

Lead generation was a huge focus for the social media team this year. Out of all the people who saw the promotional posts driving to the NCS webcast registration page, 351 signed up by social media referral traffic. That means we succeeded in 350+ form conversions to Cisco, and that’s no small number given the comparatively smaller service provider audience. This is a true testament that strong social media efforts when executed properly can result in business leads.


Edit: May 27, 2014

To continue the momentum of this social media campaign, we added a new format with a fresh spin on existing content to keep the campaign relevant. We’ve turned an 11-page text-heavy third-party research paper written about the Cisco Network Convergence System into an entertaining, yet still informative 2-minute video:


Ying Shen

No Longer with Cisco