The use of social media is the ‘next big thing’ in marketing. However the lines easily become blurred as we all use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Linked In in our personal capacities without realising that a business strategy has to be approached quite differently.
“A lot of local brands are still stuck at the popularity contest stage of bragging about how many Likes their Facebook page has,” says Eric Edelstein CEO of evly.com. “But Facebook on its own is still a very limited tool for user engagement – if you want to do something a little more interesting, like run a competition, encourage fans to share with their friends and make more use of the data people are adding to your page, then you need an engagement app.”
Engage the User
Edelstein cites Virgin Active and Men’s Health as two brands that have successfully used a combination of social media savvy and user engagement tools to create high-quality interactions with their fans.
Men’s Health’s Belly Off Readers’ Challenge invited men around the country to see who could achieve the best results in a 12-week diet and exercise challenge.
“We were hoping to get 300-400 entrants, but in the end we got over 1 000,” says Renato Balona, the Head of New Media for Lifestyle Magazines at Media24. “Fans were able to share their comments and updates on our Facebook wall, which definitely delivered the virality we were looking for. It got so busy we actually had to ramp it down a bit.”
The news was even better for the competition sponsor, adds Balona. “The Coke Zero banners on the campaign got a click through rate of 12% compared to an industry average of around 0.6%,” he says. “That’s a huge difference.”
Get Customer Feedback
Virgin Active is seeing similar success with its “Help Us Help You” campaign to gather member ideas for how to improve their gym experience. “We’re sourcing ideas for how to make the business better,” explains social media manager Giovanni Ghignone. “We have four million people using our clubs each month: There are bound to be issues that crop up that we don’t know about, and our members know what can be done. By providing an effective platform for dialogue, we can move people beyond complaining to helping us find solutions.”
So far, says Ghignone, “We have some really, really good ideas coming through. They can’t be implemented immediately, but we are looking at how they can work in practice. We’re really excited by the fact that we can bring our members in as part of the business.”
Like Men’s Health, Virgin Active found that the initial response to the campaign was almost too enthusiastic: “People were sharing so much that their friends were seeing our brand two or three times an hour at peak times, which was just too much – we didn’t want to become spammy. But it was easy to adjust our settings so that didn’t happen anymore.”
“I’m not in it for my page Likes,” says Ghignone. “They’re nice to have and I’m grateful for them, but they don’t show how well we are doing our job. It’s more important that we actually follow up on member queries and issues.”