There is a growing demand from consumers for brands to commit to social media and be more visible, accessible and transparent (Gusenburg, 2014). The world spends a whopping 110 BILLION minutes on social media a month – that’s equivalent to almost a quarter of people’s time spent online overall (Bullas, 2010). That is a very compelling reason for candy brands to embrace social media.
However, being on social media has its risks. There is no doubt that brands, be it candy or otherwise, face challenges online. Users are free to post negative comments, complain publicly and occasionally these situations get amplified and become viral. But what is worse – being afraid of attacks on social media or missing out on being where your target audience is?
Methods of traditional broadcasting have now become an inadequate strategy to pursue alone and if a brand does not take control online then someone else definitely will. Consumers are able to generate content of their own to publish on the web, create a handle on Twitter or set up brand pages that are not representative of the business. Social media can stir up legal complications if rules are not followed with advertising online (especially for candy companies) and if issues are ignored, brand reputation can be severely hurt. Nestle is an example of a brand that faced a serious crisis in 2010.
Greenpeace accused Nestle’s Kit Kat brand of purchasing palm-oil from suppliers in Indonesia, endangering orangutans and encouraging greenhouse emissions and deforestation (Ionescu-Somers & Enders, 2012). This sparked a rise in user-generated videos on YouTube attacking the brand, negative comments littered on their Facebook page and tweets mentioning “Nestle Palm Oil” every 15 minutes. This forced Nestle to terminate their contract with the supplier and use palm-oil that is sustainably produced (Kaczkowski, 2010).
Social media is powerful, and should not be underestimated in terms of the damage it can do. Although brands may utterly fail at social media, it hasn’t stopped them from embracing it. As shown in one of my earlier posts, candy brands have many social profiles and most of them are active and posting regularly to engage and interact with their audience. These channels allow brands to join conversations that consumers are having about them in real-time and provides them with opportunities for finding advocates of the brand, energizing their fans and improving customer loyalty. Many brands are also able to completely change something negative and turn it into a positive. Take for instance Reese’s:
Every Christmas, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups offers holiday themed and shaped candies. Although they have been making tree shaped candies since 1993, it wasn’t until last year that fans noticed that peculiar shape of the trees, that looked more like a blob (dubbed “turds”) and customers took to Twitter to vent their disappointment. At first Reese’s started apologizing in a formal way but then they launched a campaign using humorous hashtags #AllTreesAreBeautiful and #Treegate on Twitter as an approach to silence any tree-haters (Snyder, 2015). Many consumers were able to laugh off the turd-like tree shape and this is how the brand was able to take on critics in a clever way and generate more brand goodwill (Gioglio, n.d.).
Social media also has the potential to drive business decisions, take Cadbury’s:
Cadbury UK is known for their variety of milk chocolates, but Wispa is one of the brand’s most popular products. However, Cadbury’s discontinued the chocolate in the year of 2003 due to falling demand. Thousands of fans lobbied on Facebook hoping for the chocolate brand to put Wispa back on the shelves and Cadbury’s had to respond (Donohue, 2007). By listening to their fans and followers, they relaunched the bar as a trial to see if the desire was genuine and managed to sell 20 million bars in just 7 weeks. The relaunch prompted a 1,800% increase in positive mentions and exceeded the brand’s expectations, putting Wispa back on the shelves of supermarkets permanently (Macmillan, 2012).
With millions of people carrying smartphones, tweeting away, posting on Facebook, writing on blogs, using SnapChat and other social networks, it has opened up a world of opportunities for candy brands to truly connect and interact with their audience in a way that was not possible before.
Why do you think social media should be embraced or ignored by candy brands? Let me know in the comments section below!
Bullas, J. (2010, July 14). 10 Interesting Social Media Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.jeffbullas.com/2010/07/14/10-interesting-social-media-statistics-2/
Donohue, A. (2007, August 20). Cadbury to resurrect Wispa after social network pressure. Retrieved from http://www.brandrepublic.com/article/732258/cadbury-resurrect-wispa-social-network-pressure
Gioglio, J. (n.d.). How Reese’s Took On Its Critics and Won. Retrieved from http://www.convinceandconvert.com/social-media-case-studies/reeses-critics/
Gusenburg, L. (2014, April 24). CEOs: You Can’t Afford to Ignore Social Media Anymore. Retrieved from http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/ceos-you-cant-afford-to-ignore-social-media-anymore
Ionescu-Somers, A. & Enders, A. (2012, December 3). How Nestlé dealt with a social media campaign against it. Retrieved from http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/90dbff8a-3aea-11e2-b3f0-00144feabdc0.html#axzz46OZ9vAkd
Kaczkowski, J. (2010, March 28). Nestle’s Social Media Disaster 2010. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/jimkacz/nestles-social-media-disaster-2010
Macmillan, G. (2012, April 4). Cadbury reveals impressive results with Twitter for relaunch of Wispa Gold. Retrieved from http://wallblog.co.uk/2012/04/04/cadbury-reveals-impressive-results-with-twitter-for-relaunch-of-wispa-gold/
Snyder, B. (2015, December 15). Reese’s Had a Hilarious Response to Its Oddly-Shaped Christmas Candy. Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2015/12/15/reeses-response-christmas-candy/