Analytics and reporting firm Simply Measured celebrated National Ice Cream Month in July with a case study: Why Ben & Jerry’s is the Most Social Ice Cream Brand.* Simply Measured observes that “social is a core component” of the ice cream brand’s marketing and that “with a seamless flow between their website and all their social channels, this isn’t just something they ‘have to do.’ It is something they fully embrace and reap many benefits from.”
The report lays out the method behind Ben & Jerry’s engagement with audiences across its social media platforms, leading with more than 4 million fans on Facebook.
The brand’s secret for getting so social? A huge helping of personality, a serving of attitude and a strategy that’s far more simple than it may first appear.
Celebrating the Product, and the Fans
Simply Measured highlights one of Ben & Jerry’s basic formulas for driving fan engagement: the new flavor. A key ingredient? The tantalizing product shot. “Given how ‘tasty’ these look in a Facebook feed, it’s not surprising that the most recent new flavor announcements averaged 23K engagements per post.”
Fans also post their own photos to the website, with a Fan Foto of the week honored on Facebook with comments from the Ben & Jerry’s team such as this one: “Now how many of you just licked your screen?” The result? An average of 300+ engagements each.
Here’s a quick summary of Simply Measured’s more in-depth Ben and Jerry’s Facebook Content Analysis (there’s also a deep-dive Twitter Account Report), showing the level of Facebook engagement with the three simple content types that the marketing team creates on a regular basis. The first, multimedia posts, account for 84% of all Ben & Jerry’s posts — and for 98% of all engagements — according to Simply Measured.
- Multimedia posts (photos, video, etc.) — these include the basic new flavor announcements
- Status posts — as simple as “We’ll eat you up – we love you so!“
- Posts with links to content such as a special allergy alert for a specific flavor, the brand’s Fair Trade page, etc.
Connecting Online to Drive Real World Engagement
That “seamless” flow from website to Facebook or Twitter may end up on the road. One example? The brand’s 2012 Truck Tour, delivering samples of its Greek Frozen Yogurt — Tweet us! We’re on the road giving away our new Greek Frozen Yogurt & might be coming to your neighborhood! explains the Tour’s web site. The fan engagement and excitement is apparent with a quick glance at the truck’s Twitter stream. @PhophetOne tweets: “I sent a tweet to @BenJerrysWest 25 days ago asking them to come to my work. They’ll be here Aug 28th! Probably coincidence but very cool!“
The @BenJerrysTruck tweets often link to Flickr galleries showing the action.
The Ultimate Hub For Fan Engagement: Basecamp BenJerry.com
Ben & Jerry’s fan engagement methods all converge on the brand’s basecamp for the ice cream social: a website that is beautifully designed, with content that is plentiful, relevant and written in real English (“activism,” not “social responsibility” for example).
Here again, there are lots of ways for fans to engage: Purchase a gift card. Check on the 2013 Global Free Cone Day date. Locate a shop. Locate a shop that caters. Become a VIP taster. Enter a contest. Watch a “Flavor Story” video and post your own. Plan a factory tour.
And the brand’s personality continues to shine through: Read Ben & Jerry’s mission statement and smile. Read what the brand is up to on the political front: from a straight-shooting “To Those Who Occupy: We Stand with You” statement to links to the company’s recent testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Human Rights, and Civil Rights and details about the Get the Dough Out of Politics campaign.
Ben & Jerry’s social media engagement strategies are as simple and all-natural as its over-the-counter social engagement was when they opened their first store in a former gas station on May 5, 1978. And that’s a recipe that keeps on working for them.