Dove’s Social Targeting Tries to Take Flight

The strategy that boosted Dove's social presence

Unilever’s Dove Men+Care brand didn’t have its own Facebook page or Twitter account when it launched globally in February 2010. Instead, men were directed to the regular Dove brand’s presences that were chock-full of beauty talk.

Huge fail, right? Not really, said Rob Candelino, Unilever’s vp of marketing. At the time men hadn’t embraced social media at the level most women had, he said. The plan for Dove was to talk to guys via traditional means like TV spots and aim the brand’s social strategy at women, who could then relay the brand to the men in their lives.

By May 2011, Dove Men+Care finally had its own Twitter handle and Facebook page—but still faced a socially apathetic 30- to 49-year-old target demo compared to its female targets. Indeed, even as social marketing has provided more brands with an opportunity to encourage consumers to become brand advocates, a Pew Internet study published this month found that only 31 percent of men share images they find online and only 23 percent do so for videos.

That hasn’t discouraged Dove Men+Care from running photo contests on its Facebook page like the current Fan Bowl Photo Challenge, but posting videos to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube remains the brand’s predominant social strategy, Candelino said.

Dove Men+Care may have better luck with its next generation of customers. Candelino also oversees Unilever’s AXE brand, whose target demo of 18- to 29-year-old guys are more socially inclined.