Pepsi dropped Super Bowl advertising in favor of social media, and this week Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Ice Cream was rumored to replace more traditional marketing with social media. According to published reports in the U.K., the Vermont-based company known for unique flavors like Cherry Garcia as well as their philanthropic work was opting to drop their e-mail marketing campaign and instead use Twitter and Facebook to reach out to their customers. In fact, they were only dropping e-mail in the United Kingdom, according to the @CherryGarcia account on Twitter:
“Reports of ChunkMail’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, we’ll continue to send out flavorful email to our US fans. The UK’s dropping it.” (Wednesday, July 14, 2010 at 6:01 PM).
One day later, they found another way to clear it up on Twitter:
“All marketing communication will be delivered by our cloned cowcarrierpigeon. No more facebook, twitter OR email http://twitpic.com/25l4dz .”
The link is to a drawing of their cowcarrierpigeon, in case you have never seen one.
The lesson is they have developed a base of people who follow them in social media. More than 1.3 million people who like them on Facebook. It’s a two-way flow of communications that has an intrinsic value.
Ben and Jerry’s has developed a perception of paying attention to what their customers think. Pepsi, perhaps not having as strong a perception, has had great success in new Mountain Dew flavors that were “crowdsourced.” While they may do it differently the takeaway is that both companies are listening, but for myriad reasons, in different ways.
Many companies really do not know what to do with honest customer feedback. Systems and processes need to be in place to reinforce what is good, and also help correct what is bad. Customers are sharing this information with you because they have some attachment to you. The value in that must be recognized or they will leave you.
Social media and the emerging buzzword, social customer relationship management (SOCcrm or sometime sCRM) are quickly evolving to add a social-search dimension to their relationship management system. The ultimate goal is to gain a better insight into what would make their customers happier. Happy customers influence their friends and neighbors. If Facebook has taught us anything is that word travels quickly online and that YOU are an influencer of your friends.
Influence, arguably, was something a solid ad campaign was once able to borrow. Today, person-to-person influence is the new end-game.
Back in the old days, store owners tried to keep a good relationship with their customers. Their customers in turn would speak well of them because they were treated in a way that made them feel important. Today stores, including huge supermarkets, need to find a way to do this through social media on a one-on-one basis. Engaging users in areas they care about is the way larger and smaller companies are doing this are extending their reach.
The Pepsi Refresh Project and Ben & Jerry’s Foundation are doing this, as are the businesses around your town that support the music departments and extracurricular activities.
Social media and word of mouth outreach is not new – even in small towns. It happens with great speed, and like the old days, influence cannot be ignored.