For those of you that thought social media was just for sharing selfies and pretending your life's way better than it actually is, think again. New Zealand brands and their fans are using the medium for a lot more than that. They are using it together to make things happen.
Domino’s Pizza has done this recently with their puff pastry. In one of the company’s trademark Facebook Q&A sessions with marketing director Allan Collins, the group realized that many of their customers wanted to bring back the puff pastry that was previously taken off the menu.
Domino’s put it to their fans to confirm with a campaign called ‘Bring Back Puff’. The pizza giant promised that if they got 5,000 likes puff crust would make a return. The campaign exceeded this number, so the beloved pastry is back for a limited time.
This move is in line with the company's new brand mantra ‘ People Powered Pizza’, and New Zealand general manager Scott Bush says social media makes it easier to engage with consumers to find out what they want.
"No longer do companies need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on group research sessions, when a large percentage of your customers are on social media and are giving you live feedback every hour or each day," he says. "Social media has changed the way we interact with customers, it is isn’t a hard sell like other platforms, it is a way to get a conversation going with customers that you can’t do with banners or billboards.”
The company has also increased their social media presence to include 24 hour monitoring across all of their platforms.
“Any business that isn’t listening through social platforms really is missing a huge opportunity. If over 2.4million Kiwis are on Facebook that is over half the population you are missing out on,” says Bush.
Other brands have also experimented with co-creation through social media.
Tip Top recently brought back the Fruju Tropical Snow after an overwhelming demand from Facebook fans. One dedicated fan page even reached over 19,000 likes. Tip Top went one step further and even sent the most dedicated campaigners a free sample before it was officially re-released.
KFC also did something similar with the new ‘Colonel’s Stack Burger’, asking their social media savvy fans to design their perfect burger. Unsurprisingly, it just has a lot of everything: two Original Recipe Fillets, double bacon, double cheese, crisp lettuce and Bourbon BBQ sauce.
While online community responded positively in each of these examples, this isn't always the case when at comes to crowd-sourcing promotional material. As General Motors found out in 2006, handing the creative reins can at times render some slightly undesirable—albeit hilarious—results.
When the car company asked the online community to create custom ads to promote the Chevy Tahoe SUV, the company's website was immediately flooded with a range of spots that criticised Chevy for everything from contributing to global warming to selling terrible cars.
Another example of crowd-sourcing gone wrong involves the 2012 instance when States-based restaurant Villa Fresh Italian Kitchen asked its Facebook fans to come up with a name for its new apple-flavoured variation of Mountain Dew. While there were some positive responses, the campaign was also hijacked by Reddit and 4Chan users who proceeded to flood the page with obscene responses, leaving the restaurant management rather red-faced when they logged into Facebook the following morning.
Here in New Zealand, Z Energy also saw the dangers of crowd-sourcing—although to a lesser extent—recently when it ran a teaser asking users to guess what was about to be revealed before the Blokhedz campaign launched. Shortly after being published on the company's Facebook page, the post was inundated with comments from one over-enthusiastic commenter named Mat Wihapi who seemingly took it as an opportunity to share as many celebrity names as possible.
So while crowd-sourcing might at times result in a Colonel's Stack Burger, it can also potentiall result in a PR nightmare if not managed appropriately.