On LinkedIn this morning and responded to a question posted in the Public Relations category – which is where I spend my time. I tried Inventory and Supply Chain once, but it just wasn’t me, if you know what I mean.
In short, the questioner was looking for some examples of companies, brands and organisations that have successfully used Twitter for marketing activities. I responded with my recollection of Dell’s success – in short, and I believe, that they had reputational issues around customer service and, through Twitter, not only turned those issues round, but also saw a quite considerable uplift in sales. A success indeed.
I also – because I am still stubbornly certain that social media is just another minor royal with a limited wardrobe – suggested that the Dell example (if it’s true and not an urban myth) is probably the only way a company, brand or organisation can benefit from social media. There has to be an issue already, something that the social networketers are already talking about.
In that way, you can address their conversations, provide solutions to their issues and provide them with what they want. It can only work for a while mind – once you’ve satisfied their perceived need, they’ll drift away. And if you continue to chase them after that point, you’ll alienate them and undo all your good work. The true social networketer is fiercely proud of the independence of his/her space – we know this from the reaction to brands who’ve gone in all heavy hand with the commercial messages, only to find no-one there to listen or, worse, a real and negative reaction.
After posting my answer, I actually came across some case histories of brands that were using social media to promote their products (see http://www.digitaltrainingacademy.com/socialmedia/#001926) and I thought these were worth sharing. Mainly because some of the things that are being claimed as ground-breaking and earth-moving actually – well – aren’t. In some of these case histories, it is hard to see what the real value of the social media element was.
I’m not taking away from the likes of BMW and T-Mobile mind – they created genuinely grandiose bits of film (at huge cost) and this is the sort of content that people want to share. But in the case of T-Mobile – the film (I would guess) was always destined for TV. Big budget, mass audience. If there wasn’t a YouTube (hard to imagine, I know) then the film would still be part of the public consciousness, only via TV. It didn’t need social media.
Another example is Gatorade – massive budget, launched unbranded film clips, using their affiliated celebrities. Loads of interest on t’interweb, massive digital ‘oh – of course’ when the brand was unveiled. Microsite created as a repository for these and other films, free to download, re-post and share – sadly, no brand interactivity. So, ten out of ten for commitment of budget, ten out of ten for content creation, nil out of ten for RO massive I in terms of brand engagement and reputational enhancement. Ooops.
Anyway, my favourite case history is this one for Pepsi Raw:
“The Pepsi brand in the UK was lacking energy and edge. The distributors Britvic opted for an integrated social media campaign that combined sampling, coupon redemption, in-store promotion and the Twitter social media platform. They used a traditional sampling approach of branded street vendors in high traffic areas that matched with good concentrations of the target demographic. The sampling was combined with giving out vouchers for a price promotion that could be redeemed with a single supporting retailer. And the social media came in the form of on-pack branding and a call to action for people to share their opinions at twitter.com/pepsiraw This is one of the first major integrated FMCG promotions to harness the microblogging application Twitter, and the website tool plays two key roles. The site is the latest zeitgeisty tool that reflects well on the brand by simply being there, but more importantly social media users are the typical early adopters and trendsetters Pepsi needs to gain leverage in the market. “
Oh yes. Twitter is a zeitgeisty tool. Social media users are early adopters and trendsetters, who get a brand leverage. Hmmmm. Then you visit www.twitter.com/pepsiraw and you read some of the posts from the early adopters and the trendsetters. For example:
“@pepsiraw Best Pepsi drink i’ve had. But then i don’t like the other Pepsi drinks. Raw had a nice taste.”
“@PepsiRaw not as nice as Red Bull Cola ;-)”
“@PepsiRaw you guys, when is pepsi raw being released nationwide? i live in the middle of nowhere and i’m DYING to try it <3”
Obviously, I’ve not published everything here and I’m sure there are some posts that leverage the market (I’m slightly suspicious of that last one, mind) – but it does strike me as (whisper it) slightly pointless. Social media for the sake of social media, and unlikely to have a major impact on sales.
But, hey, a whole social media marketing industry (for such there is now) cannot be wrong.