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The usage of social media as a word-of- mouth catalyst lets consumers take control of some (or all) of the promotional activity. A recent study indicates that firms with an existing fan base and positive brand reputation will receive more favorable results from social media than companies introducing a newer brand.

Colgate is an example of a brand that used social media effectively to reach a new, broader audience. In the summer of 2011, Colgate launched the “Smile” campaign with a dedicated Facebook page for consumers to upload pictures of themselves smiling. Colgate then used these images to create collage posters for point-of-sale displays. A recent survey indicates that this campaign made users 2.5 times more likely to discuss purchasing toothpaste with their friends.

The “Smile” campaign also had a positive impact on Colgate’s brand image.

Nando, a casual dining chain, asked customers to upload videos that included the noises they made when someone says the word “Nando.” Nando created a special webpage for the “Nando’s Noise” campaign. The webpage also included an interactive feature incorporating beat-boxer Reggie Watts; customers could add their own clips to play in conjunction with Reggie Watts’ beats. This campaign was successful with some consumers because of the humorous and interactive feel; other consumers used the campaign as an opportunity to highlight the benefits of a competing brand.

Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing retailer, has a “Worldwide fanpage” with close to 250,000 likes. The fanpage is specifically for Uniqlo fans, also known as Uniqlovers. These customers are great ambassadors for the brand. This fanpage is successful at encouraging a positive discussion of the brand and all the related Uniqlo stores and products.

Discussion Questions:

1. How are brands using social media?

2. Do you believe that social media can be an effective component of a retailer’s communication strategy?

Source: “SocNetCrowdsourcing Has Mixed Results,” Retail Wire, October 21, 2011.