Creating Buzz is not the way to Conversion

by Hannah Tighe on  March 18, 2011 |

The Old Spice Campaign, Social Media Great or Fail?

“How can I create buzz about my business?  How can I get more exposure and traffic to my site?  How can I get people to know about me?  What kinds of social media will help me most? These are questions that as a social media marketer I get asked quite a bit.  Social media is a hot topic and is on the minds of companies and professional worldwide…

These are important questions, but let me ask you another one instead.  What are you going to do with it?  Lets say I get you to the top of Google or I can develop a campaign that spreads like wildfire, gracing everyone’s facebook wall posts… is that really what you want?  Is that what you are paying me the big bucks for?  Of course not, you need the plan,  message, and campaign to create a story about your brand..  You need the viewers or your site, your campaign to not only spread your message but to invest in it and become lifelong loyal fans of your product.  That is where we really need to concentrate.

A perfect example is the Old Spice Campaign. While it has been touted as a huge success from many social media resources, it has not had much in the way of actual engagement or conversion.  As creative as it was albeit a bit disturbing that the managers of the campaign never used the buzz to create relationships with their clients.  They never engaged except to put out screaming messages to watch the new videos or to listen to how great they were. They failed to realize that the whole point of social media is that it’s another tool to build relationships. If you look at their twitter feed there haven’t been any interaction with their community at all.  No @ replies or thank yous or whatever.

They totally missed the point and may not have another opportunity for viewers to become a lifelong Old Spice man (or woman who loves Old Spice men). So while it is imperative to  create good solid, eye catching campaigns, it is also just as important if not more to think through the process so you can engage that community to maintain momentum and drive sales.

Just my two cents..let me know what you think

3 comments on “Creating Buzz is not the way to Conversion”
  1. Dani | | Reply

    I’ve gotta disagree here, in a big way.

    #1, the entire second campaign was built around interaction and buzz – real-time video responses to Tweets [1].

    #2, I’d bet that the primary goal of the campaign was to increase sales, and it did that in spades: one of their products saw a 1900% increase (yes, 1900%) between February and July 2010 [2]. That’s huge.

    #3, I’d also bet that a secondary goal was to change their reputation in the Gen Y age group; folks that used to think of Old Spice as that smelly cologne that dad wore now think of Isaiah Mustafa and Old Spice body wash. Considering one of their primary competitors is Axe, this is a key market to penetrate.

    And hell, even kids are learning about Old Spice in a tangential way, via the Smell Like a Monster parody [3]. Can’t do much better than getting your product linked to otherwise commercial-free programming. The parents watching it with their kids will be reminded of Old Spice, and that sticks in the brains of those parents.

    That spike in mid-2010 was probably just that – a spike – but I’d guess that a year later, long-run sales numbers are still up. Marketing – and that’s what the Old Spice campaigns really were – is only partially about an immediate increase in sales; it’s also about getting your brand out there into the minds, and therefore checkbooks, of your target audience.

    They may have dropped the ball on their Twitter account of late, but that campaign was eons ago in Twitter terms. Twitter is real-time, and it’s live, and what happened nine months ago no longer matters. A smaller campaign, a smaller client, and yes – ongoing engagement matters a great deal, but this is Old Spice – if they decide to pick up with a new campaign tomorrow, the attention and coverage will be there because they’ve laid the groundwork already. It’s not an example – good or bad – for clients with a much smaller budget, campaign, or target.

    Whether or not this campaign was a success is something that can truly only be known to the folks with a copy of the Old Spice marketing plan on their hard drives. Maybe their goal was nothing more than to have a picture of Isaiah Mustafa with a volcano Photoshopped onto his head as their Twitter background – in that case, the campaign was a complete success, because it met their primary goal.

    So perhaps the question should be this: is your goal to build buzz, to convert potential clients, or both? Because building buzz is just as valid a choice if that’s your goal.

    [1]: Mashable:
    [2]: Brand Week:
    [3]: YouTube:

  2. hannahtighe | | Reply

    Hi Dani,
    Great points here! I agree that they did a fantastic job with getting the message out there, and yes, they did see a big spike in sales, but they actually saw a spike of sales before the campaign was launched (although obviously notnearly as dramatic). Some have said that the numbers may have been augmented by an amazing coupon campaign they were implementing at the same time. The increase was in the new body wash which was engaging a younger demographic, not the stick deodorant.

    As far as engagement goes, it was with the star of the commercial who the fans were able to interact with mostly. Which again, great for a while, but did not continue. They cut the interaction, and abandoned their audience. They also ran a risk here, since most of the fans became fans of Isaiah Mustafa, not of the old spice message or product itself.
    My point here is that Unless they continue to top themselves with their very talented videos, I doubt they will continue in long term growth of new products unless they come up with another amazingly creative campaign. In my opinion (not that I am Mashable), if they had done a better job to create an amazing fan experience, they would have a much better shot at creating longer term sales growth and retention. Perhaps what I should have said is that while Old Spice did great work with digital marketing, it did not finish the job or lay the groundwork for long term loyalty.

  3. Manisha Patel | | Reply

    Hannah, Your point is valid and accepted about running campaigns. Nice blog post.



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