Shell Shows More Gas Brands Could Fuel Up on Social Media

Viral effort led to 385 percent jump in chatter

While BP has garnered attention in recent years for its use of social media, not many of its competitors have been notably active in the space. But then there's Shell, which is ramping up its social game while buying ads on Swarm/Foursquare (see images below-right), Facebook and Twitter, accruing 5.2 million fans and 245,000 followers on the latter two platforms, respectively. 

"I think that in our area of oil and gas, that among our competitors, we are definitely adapting very quickly," said Anna Bellamy, brand advertising manager for the Houston-based company. "And in a short time, we've really grown a lot of value through social media."

Bellamy shared data with Adweek from a recent loyalty-based effort with Influenster, a platform that connects brands with consumers who post comments and reviews about products on social networks. The vendor's system lets marketers target audience demos, and, in Shell's case, it homed in on 5,000 Latino moms as well as 10,000 mothers of numerous ethnicities. Fifteen-thousand other members of the Influenster community were also targeted.

Such folks—who typically have an unusual affinity for brands in general, per Influenster—are prodded to participate with a steady flow of free household, food and beverage samples as well as "clout" badges (e.g., "Expert" and "Lifestyle"). In terms of the latter, the more users share information about brands, the better chance they'll get a badge.

Nearly a 400 Percent Lift in Chatter

Shell's Influenster campaign in June pushed its Fuel Reward Network program, and it saw a 385 percent increase for that offer in terms of social mentions, 75 percent of which were driven by Influenster.

"One of the reasons we really liked the program is that we lended an authentic voice to the campaign as oppose to hearing Shell talk about why our partnership with the Fuel Rewards Network program is a great program," Bellamy said.

Indeed, social media seems like a ripe space for loyalty marketers in particular. As just one other example, Lancôme recently began offering 25 points to members who connect their loyalty accounts to the cosmetic company's Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare accounts.

Big Petro May Want to Hit the Gas

But should other gas brands such as Chevron, Phillips 66, ExxonMobil and Standard—which are less active on social platforms—also jump into the fray with both feet?

"The petro industry relies heavily on branding to beat the competition as well as raising their public image, so investing heavily in social media strategies to engage a younger generation of drivers is a sound investment," said Guillaume Lelait, general manager of digital marketing company Fetch. Shell, he added, "has almost doubled [its Twitter followers] in the last 12 months, so their investment has shown a strong [return on investment], and they are spending more than ever on social."

Indeed, for Bellamy, it's not just about organic plays.

"We definitely want to continue investment in those channels," she said. "We're going to continue to do promoted posts in the social media space, on Facebook and Twitter, [since] we have seen success driving [loyalty program] acquisitions."

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