Unilever & Social Media ROI

marmiteUnilever just announced that they will be curbing their social media spend – at least for some brands, as it doesn’t deliver enough return on investment. This is a really interesting case, as social media seems to work for them for some brands – but not for others. This could, of course have two reasons: The brands are simply not suitable for social media – or they used social media ineffectively. So in a rough and ready comparison I looked at two of their brands and how each brand used twitter:

First up: Marmite (@marmite).
First impressions: the twitter profile is clearly not very interactive, with little retweets or replies – no much of a communication going on there with the friends and followers.
The tweets themselves are all pretty much clearly a sales attempt: “Can you imagine a world without Marmite?” Followed a day later by “Finish the sentence: The thing I love most about Marmite is _____________” – and a bit of sales promotions thrown in: “RT & Follow by 5pm today for a chance to win a 250g jar of Marmite in our comp”

In short: Sales pitches, incentives and no interaction – everything that social media should NOT be! Marmite is an iconic brand, a brand that lives by the “love or hate” debate they created a few years back. Is it really surprising that Unilever found that the ROI from this sort of social media campaign was less than running sales promotions in shops?

Second one up: Lynx (@lynxeffect)
First impression: where are their tweets? It’s a whirl of interactivity there! Retweets galore, interactivity central … These guys are clearly having a conversation!
What are they talking about? The Lynx astronaut. “Girls want to marry him. Men want to marry him, too.” … ermm.. hold on… aren’t they supposed to be selling a deodorant? Well, it’s clearly more a lighthearted conversation about their advertising character. Scrolling a bit further back, the conversation also offers sales promotions – but not the “win a bottle of lynx” type… but it’s all about how to prepare a perfect Valentine’s day.
In short: Clearly “living the brand” – it’s about girls, fotty and astronauts here. Following and interacting with Lynx will get you lots of [kind of sexist but possibly] entertaining tips on how to be the best bloke, conversation and banter – and sales are a minimum. That’s clearly the Lynx brand personality. The result, according to Unilever, is that they want to maintain their Social Media engagement for the brand, because “it’s a good fit” and achieves good ROI.

I’d say – actually it’s more more good social media marketing: Few(er) people want to follow someone who doesn’t talk to you, and just bluntly promotes their product. Social media is about the social: In social media people connect with friends (and brands) on an affective, emotional and social level, therefore, social means the funny, engaging and “living your brand like a human” side.

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