Marketing to niche segments cost effectively has always been tough. The challenge is similar when your market is broader but your budget is limited. Social media, because of its scalability, is an economical tool with a huge upside for building consumer engagement. To demonstrate that point, I’d like to share some bottom line results from a social media program my firm developed for a new snack food.

Raisels Facebook Sample Request Page

This Facebook sample request page garnered 20,000 'likes' in one day!

The brand, Raisels®, is a sweet and pucker-up sour product made from golden raisins, natural fruit flavors, citric and ascorbic acids and a light dusting of sugar. It gets big thumbs up from majorities of every demographic (including folks who don’t really love raisins). In addition to developing brand positioning, the Raisels name and package design (click for details), we built an internet presence including Web site, Facebook and Twitter pages, and set goals for fans, followers and interactions.

Next we sent the brand on a Mommy Blog Tour, providing product samples to over 200 Mommy Bloggers, along with background information and postable images of Raisels’ logo, packaging and characters. Within six weeks we had generated over 1 million online impressions as a result of the posts (almost all positive) that our Mommy Bloggers wrote. A Google Blog search at the end of the promotion indexed more than 35,000 results on the word Raisels, more than many national brands of snack foods that enjoy more significant marketing budgets.

Ohio Moms Raisels Blog Post

Hundreds of posts from enthusiastic Mommy Bloggers with a collective audience of over 1,000,000 followers raised awareness of the brand and paved the way for our Facebook sampling initiative.

This awareness level gave us a terrific platform for a sampling program. We developed a Facebook application that allowed visitors to request a sample in return for a “like”. Sampling is critical for new food or beverage products. And Likes are terrific social currency. When someone likes your Facebook page, they are allowing your future updates into their news feed. Various studies have shown an actual financial value to each like received.

On the day of the giveaway, we posted links that were spread virally until we shut down the promotion around 6 PM, having garnered over 20,000 likes! That’s more than the California Raisin Commission and other major brand dried fruit manufacturers have. In the weeks since, our fans have stuck with us. Our next step must be to engage with them on a meaningful level that engenders increased good will and purchase intent.

Comments received on Facebook are overwhelmingly positive. Interestingly, critics are often addressed directly by other fans who tend to be appreciative of a brand's social participation.

By the way, when fans gave us their addresses and contact info, it all went into a database. We must be responsible and judicious in our use of that data, but properly curated, it has marketing value. As do the data on fans’ favorite shopping venues, an optional field on our sample request form that most respondents completed;  this info can help us demonstrate consumer demand to retail buying executives!

Every social media program is different in intent, scope and execution, but if your brand could benefit from this kind of one-to-one consumer interaction, chances are social media has something to offer you.

Michael David Gold, a founder and principal of Goldforest, has 20 years experience creating and communicating about brands. To discuss your branding conundrums, call him at 954-929-7790, or write him an email.

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