Are ‘Live’ Social Media Marketing Campaigns Now An End In Themselves, Or Merely A Stepping Stone To Greater Customer Engagement?

How do you attract new customers and then go on to keep them brand loyal?

Well, it appears the method that is de rigeur at the moment is ‘live’ marketing. If you’ve never heard of it then don’t worry – not that many people have, but curiously they’ve all probably experienced it in one form or other. The most recent live marketing campaign to hit the headlines took place in Australia. One hungry customer posted a message on Facebook bemoaning the fact that a brand of cookies didn’t grow on trees. Tim Tams, the firm in question, noticed the post and took steps to ensure that they did, proving to the world that they lived up to their marketing slogan of “we really listen.” To the outside world this looked like a spectacular piece of marketing genius, but the question is was it successful, and if it was, how was this success measured?

Tim Tams manufacture a cookie that is very popular in Australia.

It markets through all of the usual channels and is particularly active on Facebook and other social media sites. One of its customers, Matilde-Rose Marin, posted what appeared to be a flippant message on Facebook stating ‘I’m really craving a candy bar right now – I wish Tim Tams grew on trees.’ Tim Tams noticed the posting and immediately took action. Rather than just claiming to be listening to what its customers were saying about the brand on social media sites, Tim Tams decided to take positive action and demonstrate that it was indeed listening. In fact, the company decided to go one step further and prove that not only did it listen and act, it was also innovative and determined to meet the customer’s ever-changing needs and whims.

Tim Tams put a live campaign into action in Sydney and imported real trees from which they hung cookie bars. Members of staff also toured the square and handed out free samples to passers-by. For added effect they displayed the original Facebook post along with a photograph of Ms Marin alongside posters which stated “we really listen”. Naturally the live campaign was hailed as a marketing success. The only problem with that opinion is how exactly do you judge that?  How do you measure ROI in a social media marketing campaign like this? It certainly brought the brand to the world’s attention, but did it result in increased sales or continued interest in the brand?

The truth is no-one really knows other than Tim Tams and they appear to be keeping tight-lipped about the matter.

The only way you could see it working in the longer term would be if Tim Tams had made an email opt-in a prerequisite for the receipt of a free chocolate bar: choose to receive future emails about the company’s products, and get a free cookie. In that way these customers would be kept in touch with the brand long after the biscuit was consumed. It’s not even clear whether there was a social media call to action, like #TimTamTree hashtag inspiring feedback and conversation about the event and the product, or links to photographs of the event on the Facebook page. The bottom line is that no-one really knows if the publicity stunt will result in long term brand advocacy.

So what does any of this prove?

Well, if it proves anything it’s that conversions don’t necessarily grow on trees unlike some chocolate bars. Live campaigns may be effective at creating publicity and generating interest, but sustaining that interest is much more difficult. In an interactive digital age, it’s far more important for businesses to be able to measure the influence of all marketing campaigns, and to use that measurement to help to build long and lasting relationships with customers. Did Tim Tams do that? Well, only time will tell.

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