Social media is most effective when combined with brand objectives and consumer conversations. See how Sprite and 360i were able to reach a key demographic by doing just that.
Coca-Cola's interactive advertising efforts are held in the highest regard, with campaigns like "The Happiness Factory" and "Happiness Machine" earning both industry awards and consumer praise. But when the soft drink maker wanted to spread the word that consumers could donate their My Coke Rewards points help schools buy supplies, it needed a little bit of help.
Coke's Sprite brand and its digital agency, 360i, wanted to reach a consumer group that was both active in school activities and responsible for family grocery shopping: mothers. It just so happens that mothers are early adopters of social media, so Sprite teamed with the already substantial TwitterMoms community for a multi-faceted campaign spanning Twitter, blogs, and social networks like Facebook.
Through thousands of tweets, blog posts, and a custom-made widget that aggregated back-to-school tips and tricks, Sprite was able to develop an engaging campaign that offered value to moms while simultaneously promoting the brand.
For a better idea of how Sprite and 360i were able to reach their target audience and surpass their campaign goals, iMedia interviewed Sarah Hofstetter, SVP of emerging media and client strategy for 360i.
iMedia: Coca-Cola is a great example of a brand that has embraced digital marketing. When working with brands like this, do the ideas often come from the client side, or from 360i?
Hofstetter: Great ideas can come from anywhere, and we find that some of our best ideas come when working in partnership with our clients. They understand their brands and the full ecosystem -- in Coke's case, from soul to shelf -- and we understand the nature of the ever-changing social landscape, both in terms of how to develop a core creative idea that will be successful in social media, but also the expertise in flawless execution and measurement.
iMedia: Part of Sprite's "Back to School" campaign was aimed at mothers who are active in social media. What sort of research does 360i do to learn about a target demographic?
Hofstetter: Before jumping into recommendations, it's critical to understand who your audience is, how many of them are spending time on social sites, and who the creators are among them. If we can inspire creators to do something, then they can influence their circles and inspire advocacy and word of mouth. So for Sprite's Back to School campaign, we aimed to understand the social psyche of a busy mom with kids going back to school. These moms are the primary grocery shoppers in their households and have the largest influence over grocery decisions.
iMedia: How did consumer insight impact the campaign? Were there any elements that were changed in the process as a result of information learned during the listening stage?
Hofstetter: Elements didn't change because our ideas were formed as a direct result of the listening. Since moms are often social media early adopters who contribute frequently to social sites, newer platforms like Twitter had potential to drive powerful engagement for the campaign.
Research shows that moms are more likely to join a preexisting community than to create new one. So 360i partnered with the already-flourishing TwitterMoms community for a multi-faceted campaign spanning Twitter, the blogosphere, and a variety of social networks. We asked the creators -- in this case "expert" mom bloggers -- to talk about back to school and share the custom-developed Sprite Back to School widget, which aggregated user-generated tips and tricks, with their followers.
Between the dozens of blog posts, hundreds of widget embeds, and thousands of tweets, Sprite far exceeded pre-determined benchmarks.
iMedia: Social media can often seem like a lot of noise with constant conversation. What can brands do to ensure their message is in the right place so that it will reach the right audience?
Hofstetter: When looking at the audience you're trying to engage, it's important to understand their behaviors and motivations before deciding on the best value exchange -- call it social currency -- between the brand and the consumer.
For some consumers, conversation is key. For others, it's entertainment or utility. Some just want access. A marketer's goal is to provide consumers with the currency they want so they can repay you with social currency in the form of amplification, advocacy, and word of mouth. With Sprite, it was the utility of the tips, providing moms with an opportunity to connect and converse and the currency of My Coke Rewards points that allowed moms to donate to their school and make a difference.
iMedia: At the same time, social media has many marketing uses, from customer service, to branding, to disseminating information. In your opinion, what should brands focus on first when they decide to enter the social media world?
Hofstetter: We encourage brands to think about social media as a mindset instead of a marketing channel. Brands talk to consumers all day; whether it's customer care, PR, advertising, event marketing or even human resources, it's just a matter of translating that communication into conversations, and aligning those conversations with brand objectives.
Rich Cherecwich is deputy editor, iMedia Connection.