By Rieva Lesonsky

Wouldn’t you love to have been able to run an ad during the Super Bowl? Who wouldn’t—but at $3 million for a 30-second spot, no small business (and few big ones) can afford it.

One of our partner companies, Network Solutions, decided to try a money-saving social media strategy instead. They created a video parody of one of their competitors’ commercials, featuring Cloris Leachman as a “hot granny” in their mockumentary video dubbed “Go Granny.” (Check it out at

In the three days after the video launched, it got more than 30,000 views, and Network Solutions tied it into some promotions the company was running. What did Network Solutions do right to get such a great response?

They were funny. Just like with Super Bowl commercials, where the most memorable spots are often funny, humor deleted an extra is here is key to creating a viral video that gets shared, passed around, retweeted and talked about.

They weren’t just funny. Funny Super Bowl commercials often fail to pay off if they don’t sell the product. Network Solutions got serious by involving founder Lisa Stone in the campaign and featuring her in a segment of the video. Stone is a well-known and respected expert among bloggers, women and small business owners—and she’s a Network Solutions customer who was able to share how the company’s solutions helped her. This showed prospective customers the serious side of what Network Solutions can do.

They timed it right. Timing a big PR push to go along with a big event or holiday season is a well-known principle of effective public relations. In this case, Network Solutions rode the wave of interest in the Super Bowl and Super Bowl commercials.

They planned out their social media strategy well. Small business owners often feel social media isn’t that effective. And it isn’t—if you use it without a well-thought-out strategy and goals. Network Solutions alerted its online and social network to the campaign and the promotions that tied into it. By priming their audience ahead of time, they knew they could rely on their fans and followers to talk about the campaign and generate buzz.

Take a page from Network Solutions’ playbook and think about how your next social media effort can score your goals.

Photo Courtesy: Network Solutions