Social media is proving to be fertile ground for brands that help tackle tickly personal care issues. It’s not just the brands that are doing the engaging, it’s consumers, seizing their social media soapboxes to share about delicate subjects.
Consumers share these experiences for a variety of reasons. It may be to solicit advice, help inform others or increase awareness on a particular topic. Just this August, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the speaker of the New York City Council, publicly announced her diagnosis of a "high-risk" form of HPV on social media. Self-described as an “extremely private person” she tweeted her news to help raise awareness about the common but often stigmatized sexually transmitted infection. This act may shock many people. But for Mark-Viverito, the idea that someone in her role can help others by sharing a very private matter through social media makes the reward worth the risk. Mark-Viverito’s tweet is helping break the stigma and opening up the conversation about this very sensitive topic, something social media allowed her to do.
The great success of campaigns such as Always’ “Like a Girl” and Dove’s “Real Beauty” demonstrates that personal care and sensitive brands can’t afford to ignore social media. Yet, personal care brands are among the slowest to adopt integrating social campaigns with other digital initiatives. A study from L2ThinkTank showed that only one-third of personal care brands looked at linking their websites to social media campaigns and less than 16% of brands were actively experimenting with Instagram, Vine, Google+, or Tumblr.
While many personal care brands might not be present on social networks; consumer presence on these platforms is unquestionable. And they’re talking too. A study of more than 8,000 moms found that a majority did not shy away from sharing their experience with sensitive brands, like sanitary products. Today, consumers do product research and gather knowledge by reading the comments of family and friends on social networks. You might not feel like talking about your urinary tract infection, but believe me, there are people (we all know them) who have no problem telling you about their experience, and they will give a whole-hearted recommendation of the brand that provided relief. We’ve all experienced a time when information from our friends proved to be critical when we’re ready to make a purchase and need to know what brand to buy.
Considering that 88% of consumers say they turn to consumer recommendations for purchases, it’s clear that brands that treat sensitive personal care issues have a unique opportunity to encourage consumers to talk.
Developing an advocacy strategy for your personal care or sensitive brand might just be the key to helping your brand reap the benefits of social conversation. Here are three key items to remember:
Forty-nine percent of people say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action. Here is an opportunity to educate customers on not just your product, but on the entire category. As many personal care brands address TMI topics, arming advocates with useful and informative talking points enables them to help their friends and makes it easier to start conversation.
If you look at a brand like U by Kotex, the decisive idea was that feminine hygiene should not be a taboo subject. Not only should women feel comfortable discussing it, but the program was designed to encourage honest conversation and to provide essential how-to and health information for young women. Brands can create discussion topics and thought starters, to encourage conversation about taboo topics.
Let’s remember something; a personal care brand like deodorant is not the most interesting thing to talk about. But when you put a movement behind it like Old Spice, you immediately have a conversation to talk about. Find your movement, and leverage it as a way to infiltrate social conversation.
In sum, personal care brands can no longer assume that they are “too taboo” for social. Consumers do and will talk – it’s just a matter choosing whether to help guide the conversation.