Social media has become a mainstay in the marketing world. In fact, SymphonyIRI research shows that it’s also a very significant purchase influencer, with 78 percent of consumers turning to online research before purchasing. With this in mind, numerous CPG retailers are using social media, but their campaigns─and results─have largely been underwhelming. Where are CPG marketers going wrong?
Unique Visitors to Social Networking Sites
Source: comScore: State of the Internet, 1st Quarter 2012
Today’s consumers are constantly bombarded with information they don’t want, don’t need and are not interested in. The key to effective social media is to form meaningful connections, and this can only be done by generating content that is directly applicable and useful to consumers. Social media campaigns should make consumers feel as if they are at the center of the conversation, and should encourage engagement and brand loyalty.
For CPG retailers considering social media, or seeking to increase ROI from existing social media efforts, it is crucial that campaigns be localized and customized. CPG retailers need to research their social media audiences and provide content accordingly, taking into account factors like age, gender and income level. Targeting consumers based on location is also key. Whole Foods addressed the localization issue perfectly: in addition to its primary, company-wide Facebook page, the specialty retailer also has pages for its individual stores. That way, consumers only hear about sales and events in their own neighborhoods.
Another retailer that’s getting social media right is Target, which has had particular success driving loyalty through its Facebook page by encouraging consumer involvement and providing a deep level of customization in terms of offers and couponing. Target gives consumers content that is specifically targeted to them, making them feel as if the retailer is saving them time, rather than wasting their time.
However, there is a balance to knowing too much about customers. While it’s important for consumers to feel like the social media messaging they’re receiving is meant for them specifically, CPG retailers should never invade customers’ privacy. Consumers do not want to feel like they are being stalked or taken advantage of, and overstepping privacy boundaries is an easy way to alienate consumers. Tactics like purchase-based targeting can be a great way to present consumers with products and information they will truly be interested in, but there’s a fine line as to how these technologies should be used. Retailers should err on the side of caution to make sure they are not getting too personal or targeting consumers in a way that could make them uncomfortable.
Most CPG retailers are still learning and experimenting with strategies for promoting their brands or products through social media, but there are countless additional applications, including product development and promoting brand events. Have a new product? Use social media to hold a naming contest. Only one person will win, but every person who enters, or even just reads about the contest, will feel an immediate connection to the product before it’s even launched.