So I tweeted something last night – it went along the lines of “Who the hell would ‘like’ Cuprinol or Jersey Royal potatoes on Facebook?!!! Why?”. My initial disbelief as to why either of these companies would have a Facebook profile (and mild rage at whichever agencies/internal team said they should) was then tempered by the more logical side of my brain (I do have one I promise), and so I decided to do some digging into this and thinking on why I was mildly vexed at a seemingly daft use of social media and online marketing.
As a consumer myself, and someone who obviously keeps a close eye on the media and marketing scene, I have noticed over the last 6 months brands swapping their traditional web URL for Facebook addresses on their TV adverts. I have also noticed more and more the cross over into (particularly American shows) mainstream television references to social media. Both The Good Wife and Scrubs have featured Foursquare in plot lines recently, and it always makes me smile when I hear these references, echos of “it will never take off” resonating in my ears
Apart from the geeky buzz I get from seeing what I do for a living proliferating more into the mainstream, it does leave me with a burning question – should all brands be embracing digital and social media , or are some just not suited to this as a marketing channel?
Coming back to the Cuprinol rant I checked – they have nearly 5,000 likes on Facebook!! Not amazing but not that shabby either.
Now I realise I’m probably not the target demographic for Cuprinol, their marketing strapline is “At Cuprinol we’re passionate about wood!” I really feel nothing towards wood, it’s just wood, but I was still wondering how they got 5,000 people to actively go online and also engage with them on Facebook about being, well passionate about wood.
So what are they doing right? I think the basis of their strategy comes from a good marketing campaign for the brand that naturally lends itself to building a community online. The wood preservation society. On their Facebook page they have started having CSR discussions, posting useful articles, interestingly (I guess if your into that sort of thing) people are posting pictures of things they have varnished. Cuprinol are using the Facebook page to crowdsource for their next TV advert and get competition entries, presumably for data capture. There are some negative and spoof comments on there that I would have responded to, perhaps a bit more understanding of how social media can be used for customer service? But all in all it’s pretty standard ‘brand dipping their toe in the water’ Facebook fair.
I’ll admit it …. my Twitter rant about Cuprinol was a bit harsh and unfair. I’m reserving judgement on the Jersey Royal’s though, I can’t find their Facebook page, and seriously they are potatoes! ;)
So what is my point? I guess it’s that I still hold reservations about whether social media and digital marketing are right for all brands. Digital, particularly social media, should not just been seen as a shiny new toy in a marketing tool kit, it is not for every brand and the time, effort and cost associated with doing it are by and large greatly underestimated/underappreciated (trust me I spend an evening a week tweeting about a certain TV show on ITV and my weekends answering @ messages on Twitter/Facebook about where to go for a day out – I don’t mind I love it!).
However I do think that a strong brand proposition and marketing campaign must have digital brand communication in its DNA. How a brand works online and whether channels like Facebook, Twitter e.t.c. are suitable, must be thought about as core to any marketing campaign/proposition, especially as consumers now expect this as a key call to action from standard ATL advertising.
Digital customers will not just engage with your product (even wood varnish), you have to give them interesting, value added content and actively build a community online. Seriously think about it – why would anyone ‘like’ your brand online, what is interesting about your company/product? If there isn’t something interesting about it you need to come up with your own Meerkat (or pay a good agency to do that for you). Online brand monitoring and brand reputation monitoring are key to finding out who, what and where your brand is being talked about online, but first and foremost a strong brand strategy and marketing campaign have to be a the core of your digital offering.
Just because we now have social media – don’t forget the marketing people