We often meet passionate marketers who firmly believe that if consumers “only knew their brand like they do” (by spending time with it in social media) they would love it just as much. We know there is appetite, as the average person already connects with as many as nine brands.
So why will someone chose your brand? And more importantly, why will they continue to spend time with it? In principle, it’s very simple. People like brands in social media for the same reasons we like anyone – they make us smile, they sound interesting, they support or help us, they share our values, they’re generous, or they’re just cool and we like being seen with them.
It’s therefore no surprise that the brands people connect with most tend to be in media & entertainment, causes, fashion, or sport. Consumers don’t just buy their badge value (following BBC6Music or liking Abercrombie); they’re usually also interested in what they have to say on-going (Man Utd’s latest signing or gossip from the X-Factor).
The challenges for FMCG brands
The far greater challenge lies in the world of FMCG – the world of bread, kitchen roll and washing up liquid – yawn! How many FMCG brands are inherently so funny, interesting, entertaining, helpful, generous, or just cool, that consumers seek them out in social media? There are a few – Red Bull has an inherent ‘edge’ to it, Innocent is naturally ‘quirky’, while Ecover is the obvious choice for the hardcore Eco-warrior – attributes that alone, will attract a good fan base.
But most FMCG brands do not possess such ‘charismatic’ personality traits. I might like the ads by Hovis or Heinz or Cravendale, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into an overwhelming desire to spend time with these companies in social media… I’ve got friends, hobbies and passions I’d sooner seek out before learning what my bread manufacturer has to say today.
Developing a real relationship
So what do FMCG brands do? They either admit that social media will never be an efficient frequency or loyalty driving channel for them (let’s face it, it’s a big ask to convince someone to ‘like’ a detergent), or they develop the kind of content that consumers seek from a real relationship. That means more than ‘brand news’ – the latest new products, packaging, or advertising. Except for the geekiest brand fan, this is not enough to sustain an on-going relationship.
Content must compete with the rewards they get from their friends (or other, more ‘charismatic’ brands). It’s a challenging task – finding the sweet spot between creating something of genuine value for your consumers whilst staying true to your brand. Defining your ‘social proposition’ is the first step, i.e. your consumer ‘offering’ within social media. This should then inspire enough content ideas to keep the relationship fresh. And when it doesn’t, it needs to evolve. Don’t stand still – consumers get bored very quickly.
So who’s doing this well?
Besides the brands that we manage of course ( ), it’s worth looking at: Lynx, who keep their huge Facebook liker base entertained with new apps every few months; and Gü Puds, who have a rich variety of competitions, which like their yummy cakes, keep you coming back for more. Thousands of people hanging out with a deodorant and a dessert – who would have thought it!? But then again, the first one is far more amusing than most of the people I socialise with, and the second one is far more generous… although my friends do set the bench quite low!