Customer engagement perspectives shared at Kellogg marketing conference

By Christy Lu

Social media engagement was a top theme at the conference Marketing Outliers: Growing Outside the Comfort Zone, on January 25 at the Kellogg School of Northwestern.  

I was impressed by the keynote speech by Jorn Socquet, vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch, in which Socquet talked about how to engage customers in reflecting on the value of a brand in social media campaigns. Socquet gave examples of customer engagement and co-creation from the social media contest #whateverUSA that Anheuser-Busch implemented last summer.

The contest provides examples that correlate to the study the Spiegel Research Center just completed, which examined the relationship between a customer’s engagement on social media and subsequent purchase behavior. SRC found that prompts tied to the brand meanings can motivate social media contest participants to post more (both length of social media post and frequency) and these customers went on to purchase more (both in frequency and greater value of products). After researching several social media contests from the Air Miles reward program, SRC found that posters spend more in both short term and longer term. One week after participating in a contest on the Air Miles social media forum, customers increased their spending 42 percent over previous spending. Four weeks after participating in the contest, posters still showed an increase in spending by 35 percent. SRC also found that without relevant prompts, there was very little customer activity, providing evidence for the need for companies to come up with relevant and engaging campaigns to get their customers to take notice of their brand and boost sales.  

In Anheuser-Busch’s #whateverUSA campaign, users posted about their experiences with Bud Light to be selected to join a small-town carnival and then become part of the Bud Light YouTube videos and TV commercial. Not only did the trip audition collect tons of creative content for the brand, the ad campaign highlighed the core values of the brand: fun and freedom, and generated long lasting impressions on social media by using the #whateverUSA hashtag. The success of the #whateverUSA campaign also gives evidence to the SRC insight that tying rewards to brand meaning creates a win-win situation for both consumers and the brand. Customers have fun with the process and create user generated content that boosts sales.  And, according to the findings of the SRC Air Miles study, both the customers creating content and those that view it increase spending.

Socquet also shared Anheuser-Busch’s social media tactics during the Super Bowl. One of the unique features of their social media campaign during Super Bowl night is that one person takes charge in orchestrating all content and media to keep the consistency and tone. One “voice” provides greater potential risk, but also greater possible reward in the ownership of the campaign. This year Budweiser planned to continue the #BestBuds story, a campaign launched in during the 2014 Super Bowl that portrayed the friendship between a Clydesdale and a puppy, integrating Twitter and the live game in the "Lost Dog" campaign.  [Author’s note: As this piece was written before the Super Bowl, this year Budweiser did return to the story about the horse searching for his lost puppy friend. The commercial was the most watched advertisment of the Super Bowl. Budweiser also played a strong game in interacting with influencers to encourage more user-generated content on Twitter].   

Relevant study and insights:
Social Media Contest: Do consumers who engage in social media contests buy more?