When it comes to advertising in the 21st century, it’s no longer enough to simply describe a product or service’s various features and benefits. It is no longer reasonable to expect consumers to put their hand in their pocket based purely on the information delivered through a print, TV or digital advertisement. In 2013, buyers are constantly being asked to engage with a brand, to ‘find out more online’ and made to feel like that the best stuff is reserved for those who interact through multiple channels.
For many of us, our ever growing need for that special offer, discount or additional benefit – which is only available through the brand’s online activity – means we succumb; after all, we don’t want to be the only one left out! We may remain a passive observer, not commenting or ‘liking’, but we’re still on the page, taking in the brand’s messages. It’s the ‘find us on Facebook’ strategy we find ourselves vulnerable to every day…and it’s growing.
Despite this, and the constant encouragement to participate with the ‘second screen’ trend, research specialists, Gartner, has suggested that only 10% of social initiatives fulfil their purpose of driving sales for the brands they are implemented by. This seems like a very small percentage compared with the number of times we’re all asked to ‘find us on Facebook’. It is clear not every brand manages to find the right balance between creating a community of engaged consumers and the core purpose of most campaigns (to drive sales) because, it transpires, one does not always lead to the other.
So, what makes the difference between the campaigns that will fall into the 90 per cent and are effectively destined to fail and the 10 per cent which will succeed in driving sales?
I’m sure there isn’t one correct answer but I recently I saw a TV advert which had many of the necessary elements required to achieve success. The advert in question was for Vanish stain remover and featured a number of video clips created by the product’s consumers, showcasing their personal stain removal tricks with the help of the pink branded washing aid. As discussed, it advised us to find Vanish on Facebook, where it promised more stain removing tips and even the opportunity for the audience to donate its own tips for getting rid of pesky stains…as long as it involves Vanish, of course.
As promised, once on the Vanish Facebook page, we find a tip exchange; a section designed to allow the audience to engage with one another, providing their own advice regarding stain removal. The section encourages users to upload videos of a ‘how to’ nature under the title ‘I’ve got a tip for removing troublesome stains’. For many products this could come across as a rather crass and transparent commercial exercise, like Coca Cola asking its customers to tell them about their favourite summer’s day…as long as it involves drinking coke. But, where my example and Vanish differ is that in the case of Vanish, it is creating a genuinely helpful resource, one that addresses a problem we’ve all had at one time or another.
One Facebook member uploaded a video highlighting how the plastic measuring cup, provided by Vanish, can be utilised to grind the powder into tough stains, another praised the benefits of leaving a tough stain to soak in Vanish for five minutes. User generated information like this, although considered somewhat trivial to many, features ‘real people’ providing genuine help and, from a brand credibility stand point, that is worth its weight in washing powder. Overall the campaign boosts the perception of the product’s effectiveness, expands the potential uses for the product and bolsters the brand’s overall credibility. The ‘tip exchange’ and Vanish’s ‘social initiative’ highlights how a campaign can be created with a very clear and honest commercial objective, whilst also providing a genuinely useful and interesting social engagement tool, relevant to a broad international audience.