How P&G is Using Social Media – From BlogWell

Bottom Shape

Krista Neher

Apr 09 2010

I attended the BlogWell conference in Cincinnati yesterday (You can see my live coverage of the event at the SocialMedia.org blog).

In the first panel of the day, Anitra Marsh, Global External Relations manager at P&G Beauty Care shared key takeaways and learnings from several P&G Beauty case studies.  At Boot Camp Digital we did work with P&G (not beauty) on some of their early social media and community management work, and these steps show how P&G is evolving in their thinking about social media.

Step 1: Know Your Consumer

The first step that Anitra talked about was the importance knowing your consumer and what they are doing online.  This is similar to how we at Boot Camp Digital encourage companies to start building their social media strategy.  To do this effectively you have to spend a lot of time getting to know who your consumers really are as a person.  What are their interests and where do they spend their time online?

P&G Examples:

For example with Olay, consumers have more choices than ever and they need help selecting online.  Olay started a new website last year called www.olayforyou.com which takes customization to a new level.  It provides a custom diagnosis for consumers based on behavior as well as skin type.

Another Olay program that highlights the deep consumer insights is Olay Pro-X.  They had a core insight that consumers are very in to health and wellness and spend a lot of time online researching.  Olay Pro-X partnered with WebMD to provide content on SkinCare, since WebMD didn’t have a skin care site.  The result is that WebMD skin care includes editorial content from the Doctors at Olay including blogs and videos.

Step 2: Shift from Holistic Communications to Interdependent Model

Anitra stressed the importance of using an interdependent model for creating messaging between online and offline.  In holistic communications the message is often an advertising message that is shared across different touch-points and mediums.  In the interdependent model the content is created specifically for different channels, and in some cases the web content is driving the traditional content.

P&G Examples

On Herbal Essences this has been used to take consumer testimonials from the web and use them in traditional media.

Hugo Boss presented a unique challenge since the consumer is fickle and there is a lot of clutter.  Hugo launched a contest for consumers to design  bottles for their “Army Flask” campaign – there were over 13,000 entrants and many of the designs have been featured in print magazines and on billboards.  In the new world with an interdependent model the content moves from online to traditional media.

Step 3: Continue Listening and Participate Choicefully

The next step is to continue listening and participate where it makes sense.  Big brands can’t participate in every conversation about their brand.  It is important to monitor all of the conversations but to be strategic about where specifically you are going to engage.

One of the key learnings in creating community managers was that tone and authenticity are key to success.  Community managers must speak in a human tone.  Anitra shared that their experience was that the community manager had to be a passionate brand enthusiast – their specific role or function in the organization wasn’t as important.  It was also important that they could relate to the target consumer and were a legitimate part of that community.

P&G Examples

Pantene is one of the first brands to launch a community manager (the Pantene Beauty Maven).  Her role is to go out, listen and engage with consumers.  P&G learned that it is extremely important to align on the key topics that they really want to engage in upfront.  This helps manage logistics and approval of the content, since you can gain alignment in advance.

The community manager is just one tool but everyone should be listening online.  By listening online P&G can find opportunities to improve their products.  Last year they launched CoverGirl with Olay, and they noticed by comments on blogs that consumers were having trouble opening the containers.  Within 48 hours they worked with Research & Development to create instructions on how to open the containers.  The directions were shared back with the bloggers and there was positive feedback as bloggers were surprised that Olay cared and responded.

Step 4: Build Refreshed Messaging into the Program Up-front

The last idea is building in a refreshed message into the program up-front vs. being reactive after the fact.  Plan to adjust your message track based on events that you can anticipate (seasons, weather, etc) and be open to changes based on opportunities as they arise.

To support this P&G has a conversation calendar and they know what they will want to talk about so they can pre-work those with legal.  For emerging discussions they have a multi-functional team with PR and Legal that can respond more quickly.  Having the team already in place helps speed this up.

P&G Example

A recent example on Cover Girl was a program involving Cover Girl supporting Clean Water.  There were opportunities to refresh the message and the brand stayed nimble enough to incorporate live-time events.  Shortly after the launch the earthquake in Haiti hit, which brought more awareness to clean drinking water.

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