The social media campaign your social media campaign could smell like

Consumer goods giant Procter and Gamble achieved huge success with its recent Old Spice social media campaign. David Holt looks at what other businesses can learn.

The statistics from the Old Spice campaign in the U.S. tell the story. P&G was having great success with a new ad campaign promoting Old Spice aftershave, featuring a super-cool, American football player Isaiah Mustafa. The campaign sees Isaiah move seamlessly from his bathroom, to a boat and onto a horse within 40 seconds as he attempts to persuade American men to stop borrowing their partner's flowery fragrant shower gel and be a proper man by using Old Spice. This advert was aired during the American Super Bowl on 7 February 2010. It soon achieved cult status and attracted 15 million views on YouTube.
 
Then, on 12 July, the Old Spice Man started to respond to tweets sent to the Old Spice Twitter page. The majority of these tweets were Twitterers saying how they liked the Old Spice advert. Rather than send another tweet, Isaiah responded by posting a specially composed YouTube video recorded from his bathroom wearing just a towel. When Twitterer `sjuman28' tweeted that Isaiah's towel should be shorter, Isaiah stated in his 30 second YouTube video reply that `this was a family programme - anyone could be watching.'
 
As soon as Twitterers caught on to the fact that the Old Spice Man was responding to tweets through personalised YouTube videos, tweets began to soar - on 13th July he received nearly 62,000 tweets. Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres and showbiz reporter Perez Hilton tweeted and received personal replies, even companies such as Starbucks tweeted to see if the Old Spice Man needed a hot coffee and Gillette said hello to an old friend.
 
In all, 183 personalised YouTube videos were uploaded by Old Spice's advertising agency Wieden and Kennedy over the space of three days. These videos, along with new viewers looking at the original advert have now clocked up an amazing additional 47 million views. The Old Spice YouTube channel is heading for 100 million views.
 
The smell of success
 
There is no doubt this campaign has been a runaway success in terms of attracting attention and interaction with the Old Spice brand. This campaign had an initial surprise element to it; no-one who posted a `generic' tweet in support of the Old Spice television advert would have expected a personalised YouTube video response from the Old Spice Man himself. This sparked off the buzz and excitement across the social media channels. What was the Old Spice Man going to do next? The very clever part was composing a new YouTube video response to within minutes of incoming tweets - and to keep this momentum up for 183 videos over three days. Wieden and Kennedy were delivering television quality adverts with very funny personalised scripts using a famous celebrity within minutes.
 
I'm sure most businesses would like the budget to be able to show their adverts during the American Super Bowl and to pay for a top celebrity, film crew, and script-writing team for three full days. Not every business will have a front-man like Isaiah Mustafa. Not every brand will want to use humour in this way. What we can learn and capitalise on is the way Old Spice has approached social media.
 
They planned this exercise meticulously. They knew what they wanted to achieve. Poor planning and slow response to audience interaction is the downfall of many social media campaigns. Old Spice integrated the main social media channels successfully - Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube were all deployed. You saw the tweet, wanted to look at the YouTube video and then sign up on the Old Spice Facebook page. The most important factor of this campaign was that they monitored and listened to their social media traffic and responded in a way that delighted and amused their audience. 
 
No business has to adopt a gimmicky approach to attract its target audience. The aim is to build a sustainable community where all parties engage in useful, productive dialogue. First step is to define your target audience and begin to locate them online. Which groups do they join? Which social media channels do they use? What are the keywords for your business? Researching the search terms most relevant to your business is the key to accurate online monitoring. Begin to listen to the conversations, the topics that are being talked about. Establish how you can engage with your audience. Monitoring the social media traffic through `noise' monitoring tools will show you what's being said about you and other companies, who are the `top talkers', what are the emerging and hot topics.
 
Many businesses take a scattergun approach to social media, bursting in every now and then. But if you monitor effectively, identify opportunities to contribute and add something useful to the debate, you will start to gain a following and build that community.
 
This is the essence of the Old Spice campaign. They took a proactive stance with social media by monitoring their audience, identifying opportunities to engage - and then adding something of real entertainment value: a personalised YouTube video. Your business can follow this model, perhaps you won't reach the 100 million YouTube downloads which Old Spice will achieve, but you will certainly build your own community online to drive engagement.
 
David Holt is business development manager of social media and search engine optimisation specialist Amplify.
 
This article originally appeared on our sister Web site MyCustomer.com.

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