Case Study: Social Media Game Training (#SMGT)

This is a guest post written by Josh Camire, Director of Digital Communications at Jackson Family Wines, one of the most widely known wine brands in the world. In this blog, he introduces social media challenges as a method to train a national salesforce on how to leverage social media to support their goals and enhance their personal brand. 


With a worldwide sales force responsible for supporting more than 35 different brands the concept of “social engagement as an opportunity” has become my mantra. Each time a sales rep scowls at me and tells me how much they hate Facebook, how they are wary of the big brother aspects of Foursquare, how they “don’t get” Twitter, I smile and nod with a fatherly countenance. “Yes,” I say. “I get it,” I reassure them. “But…” and here is where I raise my eyebrow. “If I told you that with a few simple clicks or swipes you could virtually shake hands with 50 or 100 or 1000 more potential accounts each day, would you let me talk to you about this for a few more minutes?” They soften. I believe that in some Woody Woodpecker-esque moment they are imagining my head transformed into a giant dollar sign. It’s not a hard sell, especially once I explain how they can protect their privacy in the process.

Inevitably the next thing out of their mouth is, “Can you show me how to use…” and here you can fill in the blank of your favorite social platform: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare, LinkedIn. In response to that question, we created a Social Media Sales Boot Camp about a year ago. A group of sales folks from different areas of the company were selected to participate in a day-long workshop. The curriculum was basic and broadly defined, there was a guest speaker, and the whole event ended with team breakouts for some practical – albeit theoretical – use case exercises. Overall response was good, but it got me thinking about how to make it less about telling and more about doing

I’d considered gamification mostly as a customer engagement technique. However, after hearing Jane McGonigal’s keynote at SXSW about her SuperBetter game, I think the idea for the #SMGT gamified training tool began to crystallize. I was also inspired by The Fogg Behavior Model, which suggests that to produce any desired behavior, there are three primary factors that must fire simultaneously: motivation, ability and trigger.

The mission of #SMGT was to design an entertaining and practical tool to educate 100+ salespeople on how to, not just use and post, but actually engage with social media platforms. Competition is the lifeblood of salespeople, so the trigger was a no-brainer.

Our annual week-long, National Sales Meeting provided an ideal test case opportunity. The challenge was to involve the whole spectrum of users, from the technically savvy to the luddite, all without substantially disrupting their heavily scheduled meetings. The National Sales Meeting is, internally, a high-profile and highly-structured environment with every sales person from the US and Canada converged in one place for a meticulously scheduled 7-day event.

Several days prior to the event we had our EVP of Sales send an email to all attendees describing the Social Media Challenge Game and inviting everyone to participate as well as laying out the rules and detailing the fabulous prizes they could win. We also provided a mobile-optimized, one-page “quick start guide” to help jump-start the registration process.

The Social Media Challenge required participants to pre-register for four popular social, mobile platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Instagram and pass along their user names for each in a private Facebook group.

Participants were then messaged through the group informing them of the rules of play:


  • Challenges will be posted on the Facebook Group and on our game specific Twitter account.
  • Challenges will only be valid for a short period of time, and expire when the next challenge is posted.
  • When submitting a response to a challenge you must include the game specific #hashtag in your post so we can track and assign points.
  • Challenges using Foursquare or Instagram must be ‘shared to Twitter’ and include the #hashtag so we can track it.
  • You can only get points for completing a challenge once.

We chose a #hashtag that was unique to a large consumer facing campaign that the sales team was getting their first chance to see. The #hashtag was essential to be able to identify “challenge” responses as they were uploaded as well as to populate a Leaderboard to stimulate the competitive spirit of the sales team.

Challenges were posted in conjunction with the schedule of events for the conference. Thanks to some assistance from the Foursqaure team we were also able to create “events” for each of the various meetings being held at a hotel convention center. This allowed participants not only to “check-in” at the hotel but gave them the added option of checking into their specific meeting room. This helped us track more effectively and also allowed us to craft challenges that were relevant to specific topics.

A few “challenge” examples:

Challenge #1 of 4

Check-in at the meeting room you are in using Foursqaure. Leave a tip using the #hashtag and share to Twitter. Expires in 45 minutes. [2points]

Challenge #4 of 4

When you arrive at your next location, take a picture using Instagram. Be sure to include the #hashtag and share to Twitter and/or Facebook. Expires end of day. [2points] Extra credit [1 point]: Apply the “Earlybird” filter to your photo.


All of the challenges were designed to ensure that participants were fully exposed to the platforms as well as the features of each platform and the interactivity between platforms. We also encourage social interaction among participants by moderating the Facebook Group Wall and the Twitter feed.

There, there?
Over the course of 4 days and approximately 120 potential players the interaction statistics were as follows:

  • 69 participants
  • 48 active players
  • 281 Instagram photos (many of these were unrelated to specific gameplay challenges indicating a the ease of use and visual nature of this platform was attractive to both novice and experienced players)
  • More than 300 tweets using #hashtag
  • High activity on the Facebook Group: photos, comments, likes, etc

While there were many learnings about potential improvements from a logistics and administration perspective, the anecdotal evidence from talking with the players was very positive. Another positive result was that all of the players now had (at very least) these four apps installed and running on their mobile devices, making the likelihood of future engagement significantly higher.

Most novice participants indicated an enhanced understanding of social media both in general and as it related to their core sales function. Qualitative outreach was vital to ensure the appropriate framework for the game within the professional nature of the event. With that in mind we purposefully engaged in discussions with individual players (and naysayers) during the course of the meeting about the value of personal branding and thought leadership and how using these platforms could help to enhance their client’s perception of them in these areas.

An unanticipated result was the fact the both the Facebook group as well as the #hashtag have persisted among the population of players. The group has become a kind of unofficial hangout for the sales people to exchange ideas, comments and even collateral material and best practices.

Overall, the initiative was very successful and will serve as a model for future trainings with sales as well as with other areas of the organization. I welcome questions and feedback about all things digital so please feel free to reach out.

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