Social Means Business for Consumer Brands

Social media has evolved from marketing strategy to business strategy, according to Adrian Parker, director of social media and digital strategy at RadioShack. Parker was one of the corporate speakers at the Association for National Advertiser’s (ANA) Digital and Social Media conference who provided case studies about their social media programs on Wednesday and Thursday in New York.

Presenters from Dominos, Gap, VISA , and other big-name brands described how their social initiatives have led to increases not only in brand awareness and perceptions but have also expanded their customer base and resulted in market share and sales gains. Many of these are classic brands who were looking to modernize their image.

Common themes and takeaways are detailed after the break.

In-person interactions complement the connections that start on social networks. Wheat Thins’ campaign featured their yellow ‘Crunch is Calling’ truck, which personally visited selected customers who had tweeted about the brand.

Southern Comfort’s goal was to reinforce the brand’s connection to New Orleans and Mardi Gras. While on location in New Orleans, their street teams handed out Southern Comfort beads.

Reward your social network audience. Wheat Thins regularly sends thank you notes to those who post positive brand messages on Twitter, and their truck has also dropped off cases of product to the brand’s fans.

Southern Comfort realized their younger audience prefers instant gratification, so they switched from sweepstakes to offering Facebook virtual gifts in the form of “Pass a Shot” virtual toasts.

As for social feedback, acknowledge mistakes and let customers be in control. Chris Gayton, senior director marketing, admitted that Gap had learned “a valuable lesson” from the logo redesign fiasco, and the brand quickly responded by returning to its original logo.

Dominos’ well-chronicled “Pizza Turnaround” campaign began as the company publicly acknowledged customers’ critiques of its pizza’s taste.  This candid admission also generated much publicity. When Stephen Colbert tried a slice from their new recipe on his show he asked, “Is that pizza, or did an angel just give birth in my mouth?”

Participation is the new engagement, especially user-generated content. During VISA’s World Cup soccer sponsorship, they enabled fans to express their passion by creating their own “goal shout” on YouTube, and one of the videos went viral. And after developing its new pizza recipe, Dominos launched a photo contest where customers took photos of their pizza and posted them online.

Accountability helps to personalize the social experience. To compete more effectively with local pizzerias, Dominos recently introduced its pizza tracker, where the order notes the name of the employee making and delivering the pizza. To demonstrate how this works, Dennis Maloney, their VP multimedia marketing, ordered a Dominos pizza before his presentation began, and just before it ended, Jamie, the pizza delivery man brought the pizza into the hotel ballroom.