ReadWriteWeb has a short writeup about this presentation given at the Social Media Marketing Summit. In short, they used a lot of cool online tools to create interest in their product. According to Cisco, this was highly effective:

Cisco says they met their goal of increasing visibility and involving their audience by using the social Web, creating buzz and building a community at a negligible cost; a soft cost that involved time, resources, and creativity instead of budget.

I have no doubts that this campaign was effective; Cisco has some highly capable people in their marketing department. Still, I’d like to point out that this does not mean everyone can simple copy their example. This was a special case:

  • The target audience for this campaign spends most of their time online. As they point out themselves: “research showed much of their audience is on Second Life
  • Cisco is a well-recognized brand. Any rumors about a new product launch will quickly spread on the internet, regardless of how they are first published

So Cisco is a bit of a special case. As a larger corporation, using social media for advertising can be quite effective, but it helps a lot if there is already a substantial interest in your products. You can’t create a hype if nobody’s looking. 

Also, I have some doubts about the statement that they did all this “at a negligible cost”. Creating a new website, a blog, a facebook group, an interative 3D game, a blog and a Second Life presence don’t have “a negligible cost”. These things take time and, above all, creativity. And that last item is precisely why most similar campaings are never noticed; if you are not creative enough, no amount of marketing budget will make your online campaign a success. In that case you are far better off spending your money on “traditional” advertising such as Adwords campaigns and ads in the “traditional media”.