Social media marketing is growing at a rate that has not been seen before. It seems all types of companies in all different industries are using social media to market their products by raising awareness, building hype, and involving the consumer. At this point in time, it seems like a company is behind its competition if it is not using social media to its benefit. In addition, there are savings using this “new brand” of marketing as the costs of social media marketing are typically much less than that of well-known outbound marketing. The company merely has to set the campaign in motion and let the public do the heavy lifting through its own networks as the campaign goes viral. The goal is to be accessible to those who have interest in the product and become visible to others who have no knowledge of the product. The winning company will create the most buzz over its competitors, fastest. At the same time, as a bonus, it learns from its consumers things such as their likes and dislikes about the products. One industry that has used social media to market its products over the last couple of years is the chip industry and a specific company within that industry is Lays.
One campaign I particularly remember is titled Lays Do Us a Flavor, and it took place in 2012, and worked so well that the same campaign was run again more recently in 2014. The campaign was based on bringing a new chip flavor to the market, with the person who came up with it receiving a $1 million dollar prize. The company involved social media and consumers at several points along the way. First the company began taking flavor ideas. It received more than 14 million flavor ideas from consumers all over. Flavors were submitted via their website, text message, Twitter, and YouTube, but awareness of the campaign was only spread through social media. Internally, the company narrowed the 14 million submissions down to 4. This year’s finalists were Cheddar Bacon Mac and Cheese, Cappuccino, Mango Salsa, and Wasabi Ginger. Those 4 flavors were produced by Lays as limited time products for 3 months, and sold in stores along with other Lays products. At this time, the company pushed through all of its mediums (Facebook page, Twitter, website) that the flavors could be voted on. Followers and fans of Lays all over were quickly aware and many had to go try the contest flavors so that they could then return to their computers and vote on which one they wanted to see become a mainstay product. Additionally, consumers who may not have been fans of the Lays brand before (non-followers) saw the effects of the viral campaign as others “liked” and “retweeted” details of the ongoing contest. Voting was done through Facebook, Twitter, and their website.
Lays’ top executives have said that when they launched the first campaign in 2012, they did it because they needed a way to reach millennials (or, the future snackers as they were called). They knew that baby boomers and those in generation X loved Lays but the statistics did not show the same love from millennials. The four core truths that the campaign was built around were as follows:
- Desire for self-expression: One-size-fits-all approaches no longer work. Millennials have a strong sense of individuality and a need to express it.
- Desire for authenticity: Brands no longer make brands. People make brands. Strongest endorsements don’t come from experts, but from one’s social circle.
- Desire for recognition: Millennials believe their opinions should be heard. They want the recognition of their ability to make a real-time impact on the world.
- Desire to be part of the bigger picture: Millennials want to feel that someone’s listening, that their vote actually counts.
To summarize, the viral social media campaign was perfected in advance to solve each one of these truths about millennials. They involved them first by asking for flavors and second by voting, while allowing them to have a say. The hype on social media over submitting a flavor was above and beyond what even top management had imagined. The voting was so easy that anyone with Facebook or Twitter could vote in less than 30 seconds with only a few clicks. Sales during the trial period increased at close to 12%. This campaign had it all; increased buzz, increased sales, and reaching a new age group who had previously chosen other brands, all within a short time period of less than 1 year.