What brands do you know who help cure your case of the Mondays, and require no purchase to do it? Benefit Cosmetics is one step ahead of the game, firing off dozens of smiles to potential customers everyday.
In an era where the pace is rapid, results must be immediate, and the pressure is on, having a long game engagement strategy of “more jabs” and “less hooks” feels increasingly tough to manage. In higher education fundraising, the current panic is the lack of our youngest alums participating in giving at the same rate as the more senior members of the alumni community. Endless discussion has harped on why – even at schools like Penn where students by in large have wonderful experiences – and focuses on factors like high tuition, debilitating student low payments, the cost of living in cities with best career opportunity, etc. More and more I’ve been giving thought to how we can engage students and volunteers to motivate them to participate, and operate, as Seth Godin remarks, like tribes who help create movements on our behalf.
Many brands are providing a perfect example already. In reading the first chapter of Visual Storytelling with Ekaterina Walter, she recalled a rough day, where she tweeted Benefits Cosmetics with the hashtag#BeautyBoost, and received a quick customized virtual and visual pick-me-up Tweet in return. The #BeautyBoost campaign, a response to the “anti-New Years resolution” allows Benefit to make consumers smile while fostering a deeper connection to the company, and build an army of fans to evangelize on their behalf. In 2014, by pivoting away from sales and towards engagement, marketingweek.com Benefit’s marketing director Hannah Webley Smith said the goal was to “act more like a friend”, “encouraging two-way conversations and getting users to generate their own content.”
Their first big digital campaign focusing on that goal exactly led to a 53 per cent increase in sales. They further created an online blog, Friends with Benefit, focusing on the hows and whys of beauty routines, rather than sales. It’s an online community that focuses on education, connection, and conversation. By creating content that has independent value and lacks a direct sales pitch, they build their own tribe, much like the Fiskateers example we saw in class. And as Benefit has seen, the sales follow.
While our risk averse alumni based will continue to be too risk averse to participate in a major way in social media, I remain more convinced that more jabs, more smiles, and more opportunities to connect with like-minded folks online to further their education and careers is the way to draw them closer and become evangelists of our tribe. Now if we could only be as pithy as the sharp Benefits social media team!