How to engage #SocialMedia users: #Panasonic Case study

Strategies that enable brands to effectively engage their customers through social media channels were one of the key themes at SMWF Asia 2011. We met a number of companies that are right at the top of the curve in terms of understanding not only where and when to engage, but how.

We caught up with Evelyn Wee, marketing communication manager at Panasonic Asia Pacific;  flushed with the success of her team’s recent social media efforts on two fronts. Their objective was two-fold, gain buy-in from consumers around the company’s core activities; while at the same time engage them with the somewhat more complex ideas around Panasonic’s Corporate Social Responsibility message, Eco Ideas.

“We wanted to establish a communication channel that we could use to convey our Eco messages to our consumers in a relaxed, conversational manner,” says Wee.

Inviting users to design their own eco-advert, Panasonic embarked on the ‘Make a Change” (MAC) campaign, a strategy involving a whole spectrum of social media channels, centred on Facebook, to grow massive online communities for engagement and education.  Once users had designed their advert, compiling their own pro-environmental ad copy, they were invited to share their creation, spreading their eco message. The most popular submission not only earning a prize, but was also published in print.

Aiming to generate around 5000 fans, in three months the campaign Facebook page generated almost 20,000, growing rapidly by 290 people a day, every day for three months; exceeding its eventual target by 290%. Perhaps more importantly, users were actively engaging with the campaign, generating around 362 posts daily, generating an overall reach of around 2.5m Facebook users across Asia.

That was in 2010. Evelyn Wee says her Asia team had a lot of best practice guidelines to follow from Panasonic teams in the US and Japan. But with their subsequent campaign, Channel-e, she says they have now exceeded the achievements of their counterparts.

Building on 2010’s successful Make a Change campaign, Wee’s Asia team wanted to evolve the engagement of their fans and drive recruitment, encouraging ‘richer’ user generated content around the same CSR eco philosophy.

For Channel-e, they wanted to spark the community into a life of its own – self-generating content from the community and leveraging YouTube as a viral video platform. The solution aimed to leverage a number of social media channels for optimum effectiveness.

The team drafted in TV celebrities and influential bloggers to help invite users to make three different types of submission, Beauty Photos, picturesque images of their environment; Beast Photos, images depicting how the environment was being threatened; and Environmental videos, 30 second skits about the user’s environmental dedication.

The winner from each category gained the status of being Panasonic’s very own EJ (Environmental Journalist) or PJ (Photo Journalist) and was given the opportunity to post eco-content over 6 weeks on the Facebook page. This allowed other fans to gain a deeper insight into environmentalism through the eyes of another fan.

The Channel-e campaign netted 91,650 fans to a total of 111,150 fans, exceeding the set KPI of 70,000 fans by 41,150 fans. Close to 500 new fans joined the page daily, contributing to an average of 500 posts per day with each post, garnering 17,000 impressions and reaching 33.4 million Facebook users in Asia, daily.

Evelyn Wee says the thing that surprised them most was the passion with which users took up the campaign message. “It’s so refreshing as a very Eco driven company to see our passion equalled if not sometimes surpassed by our fans, it’s amazing,” she says.

So what did they learn? “I think probably the one thing we’ve learnt is to acknowledge that you’re engaging your audience on their ‘time off’ their ‘personal’ time and to keep that in mind when doing so,” she adds.

“Take a step back, relax and then re-approach it in a casual, personable manner… As soon as you try to force it they’ll shut you out.”