Social media may get all the buzz, but for consumer packaged goods, the everyday, more traditional word-of-mouth marketing may be equally — if not more — important.
A new analysis from Engagement Labs finds many consumer packaged goods brands perform much better in offline, face-to-face conversations than they do in online social channels. Both components are important to be successful, says Engagement Labs CEO Ed Keller.
“We liken it to an iceberg,” Keller tells Marketing Daily. “Social media is the tip, but beneath the surface is something bigger, and it’s a different shape.”
Using the company's “TotalSocial” data, which measures brand performance with respect to social media and word-of-mouth conversations, Engagement Labs found Colgate, Bounty and Crest had the top scores, although many in the category had above-average offline scores (suggesting many face-to-face conversations) but lower than average online scores, presenting an opportunity for better engagement via social media channels.
“There’s a myth that only sexy brands get talked about, but a lot of these brands disprove that,” Keller says. However, the everyday nature of these products means they come up more often in regular face-to-face conversations than in an online context. “Social media is about putting the best part of ourselves forward," Keller says. "It has to be something new and interesting. Offline communications tend to be more [mundane]. it’s more about emotional content. They’re two different forms of communication.”
The report notes that some brands are able to break through on both fronts. Procter & Gamble's Tide, for instance, gained some social buzz from its "CleanPledge" campaign, which encouraged consumers to be energy-efficient with their laundry (which amounted in a $250,000 donation to WWF). Keller encourages other brands to consider similar online and real-world applications for marketing programs to gain the most attention.
“It is more important than ever for brands to humanize themselves and be in touch with consumer’s emotional interests, such as environmental issues,” he says. “While everyday household items are a necessity, creating impactful marketing campaigns will enable brands to connect with consumers and remain part of their conversations, both online and offline.”
One way to do that is to understand how consumers use the different channels. Online social media is more about attracting attention, while face-to-face conversations cover more everyday topics. Both have their roles in CPG marketing campaigns.
“It starts with making sure your strategy from the get-go isn’t just around social media,” Keller says. "Consumers toggle fluidly between the two [channels] and marketers should do the same."