CORRECTED: Brands adopting mixed social media strategies

02 June 2009

NEW YORK: Major advertisers including Tropicana, Volkswagen and Adidas are adopting a range of social media strategies, from boosting their activity on established services like Facebook to launching their own branded portals, as they seek to engage with consumers.

While many brands have attempted to employ social networks, online groups and other tools as they adapt to the evolving Web 2.0 universe – a move encouraged by Unilever, among others – the developing nature of the medium means most have taken a unique approach thus far.

Tropicana Trop50 has teamed up with BlogHer and iVillage to launch "The Juice", a new online community where women can share "and exchange practical advice and tips on how to get more of what they want, and less of what they don't."

The group currently has around registered 150 members, and will focus on a new subject every week, as well as featuring videos, and offering money-off coupons for Tropicana.

"Everyone is time-crunched these days and we wanted to make it easy for women to share ideas and advice with each other so they can focus their time on more of what they want and less of what they don't," said Andy Horrow, chief marketing officer at Tropicana.

Bonin Bough, PepsiCo's director of global social media, added that the company is "allowing open conversation in branded areas, and we are encouraging dialogue good, bad or ugly."

This is part of an overall trend, he argued, of marketers "moving from impressions to building connections and from campaigns to conversations."

Volkswagen, the German automaker, has also launched its own new blog, and a complimentary Facebook page, encouraging users to "dare to learn the fascinating truth about TDI clean diesel."

Not only did the blog record hits from some 35,000 visitors in its first three weeks of operation, but its Facebook page also has 60,000 "friends".

Charlie Taylor, the company's general manager of digital marketing and events, argued that this approach amounted to "open sourcing for a brand."

He added that in the "new world order, it boils down to consumer control" rather than marketers restricting the brand message."

Furthermore, rather than focusing on sales, Taylor said VW is attempting to "create relationships and dialogues. We believe that consumers are the ones selling cars for us."

Sharpie, the marker manufacturer, is also launching its own social media service, which will include blogs, an application allowing users to “draw” online, and examples of work submitted by consumers.

The new service will be promoted by TV and print ads, and Sally Grimes, Sharpie's vice president of global marketing, posited that "it's what consumers say about us that matters. It's about being a part of that conversation and inspiring others."

Adidas Originals, the fashion and sportswear brand, has also introduced a new section to its Facebook brand page which targets content at various users depending on the country they live in.

The "Your Area" site of its Facebook site contains bespoke material relevant to 13 different countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, South Africa, the US and U

Data sourced from USA Today/Media Guardian; additional content by WARC staff