Pretzel Crisps Racks Up 4.2 Million Earned Media Impressions


Pretzel Crisps has capitalized on social media and keyword search terms by monitoring buzz on Twitter, and then stepped up to deliver samples to the offices or homes of those who are talking about salty or sweet snack foods. The brand has developed a targeted method to reach new consumers, drive product trials and raise brand awareness through Twitter -- a brilliant strategy that harkens back to the days when all brands took customer service seriously.

There are countless accounts of brands such as Virgin America, American Airlines, Nordstrom, and others connecting with consumers through Twitter -- but Pretzel Crisps, a small snack food company with about 11 people monitoring the buzz, takes the act of customer service one step further.

Jason Harty, director of field and interactive marketing at Pretzel Crisps (@pretzelcrisps), refers to the strategy as "social sampling" -- the act of monitoring conversations on Twitter and engaging with consumers through dialogue and just-in-time product sampling.

The idea to turn the "overlooked brand" into a must-have brand in the competitive snack food category is intended not only to monitor and respond to conversations on Twitter, but to take action and either send the consumer samples or physically deliver product to their door. By searching for specific key terms on Twitter, Pretzel Crisps targets and connects with consumers "in need of a snack." The brand's field and marketing team coordinates the product delivery.

Since the launch of the social sampling strategy through Twitter in July 2010, Pretzel Crisps has built up more than 4.2 million earned media impressions. The impression number identifies tweets to followers from someone who samples the goods -- and if any of the followers' following retweet the message, for example.

From July 2010 through March 2011, Pretzel Crisps gave away about 3,600 units of the 250,000 freebee samples to consumers as part of the social strategy, "but the impact of the social samples is twice that of any event samples or product seeding" strategy, Harty said. "We want the interaction impactful enough for these customers to turn around and tell 10 friends."

The concept appears to work. Harty estimates through IRI data ending March 20, 2011 that dollar sales during the four weeks prior rose 87% compared with the prior year, since the social campaign began. Sales rose 98% during the 12 weeks prior, and 59% during the 52 weeks prior, compared with the same time in the year-ago time frame. Using the same weekly metrics, sales in Los Angeles rose 166%, 196%, and 108%, respectively.

Social dynamics foster online engagement, but as online marketing continues to change, marketers will realize they can easily connect tweets, product reviews and keyword searches on Google, Bing and Yahoo with offline activities such as delivering one of the best-tasting (in my opinion) pretzels to a consumer's door. In most cases that online and offline exchange are a little less personal, meaning the brand will email, text an electronic coupon, or use a near field communication (NFC) chip embedded in the mobile phone to deliver the goods.

Twitter is not the magic key driving sales, but it does give a variety of brands the opportunity to connect with consumers online and offline. Since it began implementing this social strategy, Pretzel Crisps no longer relies on paid-search campaigns. The company's Facebook page offers a nice section on recipes.


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