For the last 12 months every brand and their dog has wanted to incorporate a social media component into their campaigns.  Just about every company website you visit has a link encouraging you to like them on Facebook or follow them on twitter.  Everyone is trying to start a conversation with their customers in the belief that it is the branding magic bullet.  The logic behind this belief goes something like this: conversation = engagement & brand loyalty = increased sales.  I tend to agree with that logic, but the kind of brand you have to promote plays a huge part in success.  If you’re lucky and have the type of brand consumers care about in the first place, you’re likely to gain some traction via social media.  If you don’t, say you’re selling tyres, then consider social media to be part of your wider strategy, but not the cure to all your marketing woes.

The most famous Australian-based social media success story happened almost by accident.  The reaction to the Bubble O Bill Facebook page is the kind of response marketers would sell their first-born to receive.   The site was set up by a genuine fan (and not a marketing team who thought it would be cool) and is now endorsed by Streets.   It’s got over 650,000 ‘likes’ and can only be described as a social media phenomenon.

By far the most exciting thing about the BoB page (that’s Bubble O Bill for those who aren’t friends on Facebook) is that it had no strategy behind it.  A fan loved the product so they started a page, and that page went crazy.  But why has it been so popular?  My personal view is that the product just happened to have resonance with Facebook’s biggest user demographic.  Every coolsie-hipster under 35 has fond memories of going to the milk bar to buy a BoB and those strong memories played a huge part in why the page has been so successful.

My next example is on a much smaller scale.  I’m not a big twitter person but do have an account with a grand total of 7 followers. (Yes, 7 followers. Cop that Ashton Kutcher!) In my travels I’d heard that Cadbury had released a limited edition pineapple flavoured Dairy Milk block.  Massive news, so I tweeted that I was on the hunt for a block.  Within hours Cadbury had responded to my tweet and and let me know where to find the product (IGA and Foodworks for those hankering after some pineapple action).   The interaction with Cadbury fired my resolve.  After work I ditched the gym and went straight to the local IGA.  Tragically, the IGA didn’t have any pineapple Dairy Milk in stock but Cadbury’s twitter inaction certainly encouraged me.

The two above examples illustrate one thing, and that is consumers will interact with a brand that they already like.  The jury is still out on whether social media can be used create buzz around a less-than-exciting brand.  I’m yet to come across a campaign that does but it can’t be too far away.  The evil geniuses of marketing are hard at work and it’s only a matter of weeks until I’m overcome with the urge to like an insurance company’s Facebook page.

And if anyone knows an IGA that does have some pineapple Dairy Milk in stock please buy me a block and send it care of Revium.

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