How Tootsie Pops cooked up social media buzz about its new flavor

Call it the sweet taste of success: Brand managers created an online giveaway involving taste testers from its audience, building awareness and getting crucial feedback on its latest product.

Do you use social media platforms to talk about your products? If not, you should, because it makes perfect sense to talk about your products in places where your audience already is.

Building brand awareness is an important marketing strategy that can be executed with the help of social media.

Tootsie Roll Industries leveraged its Tootsie Pops brand page and used a giveaway to raise brand awareness, as well as gauging interest in and receiving feedback on a new product.

Here’s what you’ll take away from this case study:

  • Why the people at Tootsie Pops decided to run a giveaway for their digital audience.
  • Where they hosted their giveaway to increase traffic and engagement.
  • How they created and maintained buzz around a new product.
  • How they increased giveaway entries by 702 percent over a previous campaign.

Here’s a step-by-step look at what Tootsie Pops did to accomplish its goals, along with tips on how you can apply them to your own campaigns.

Step 1: Pick a goal

Setting defined goals is essential to running a successful campaign. Decide: What are the top one or two things (three at the most) you want to achieve?

Here are some common goals we see among ShortStack users:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Promoting a new product or service
  • Boosting user engagement
  • Gathering user feedback
  • Gathering user content (photos, video, etc.)
  • Developing brand advocates
  • Converting followers into leads
  • Converting followers into sales
  • Expanding a social media presence

Tootsie Pops’ main goals were to increase the brand awareness and gauge interest of a new Tootsie Pop flavor. The special pop was available in a limited number of stores, and brand managers were interested in getting customer feedback and generating buzz about the new product.

“Our social media goal is almost always to keep our fans engaged and obviously to grow our audience,” says Austen Huth, social media analyst for Tootsie Rolls. “We decided to take the opportunity to make some buzz about a brand new pop flavor by asking people and our fans to become taste testers for the brand. In theory it would create fun and excitement on the page and, since it’s candy, we want to keep it fun.”

The takeaway: If you’re looking to increase brand awareness or create buzz for a new product, consider a fun giveaway that makes your fans feel that they’re part of your team.

Step 2: Create an engaging campaign

Once you’ve narrowed your goals, it’s time to determine what type of campaign will help you reach those goals.

Because Tootsie Pops was looking for customer feedback, it decided that a giveaway asking fans to taste the latest pop was the perfect way to drive engagement. Tootsie Pops chose to use a ShortStack form to collect the names and email addresses of fans interested in becoming taste testers.

Tootsie Pops placed its form on a branded campaign that was published as a landing page. Although the Tootsie Pops staff was looking to engage only with its Facebook audience, it wanted entry to be as seamless as possible. Publishing the campaign as a landing page ensured that mobile and desktop fans could participate in its giveaway with no barriers from Facebook.

“Our website traffic was down because of ‘construction,’ and we were looking for a way to drive people to the redesigned website,” Huth says. “Previously we would only use Facebook to reach our audience, but this time we used ShortStack so our campaign could be promoted everywhere, including Facebook. With the ShortStack campaign, we got way more traffic than we thought we would.”

The Tootsie Taste Tester Campaign allowed fans to enter for a chance to be one of the exclusive taste testers of Tootsie’s latest pop, a flavor that had not yet reached the global market. It enticed visitors with an exclusive and fun offer.

The takeaway: Building a campaign as a landing page allows you to brand the campaign with your business and drive traffic to your website.

Step 3: Promote the campaign

The most important step in executing a campaign is promoting it. The “build it and they will come” theory does not work for most marketing campaigns.

Wanting to interact mainly with their Facebook audience, Tootsie Pops marketers promoted the giveaway only to the brand’s Facebook audience. They posted organic status updates and invested in Boosted Posts.

“We wanted this promotion to be more exclusive and also have some incentive for our fans to give us real feedback,” Huth says. “What better way to get this feedback than by actually adding them to the Tootsie team? We also gave them something that wasn’t truly available yet, so there was some exclusivity there.”

By paying to promote the post, Tootsie Pops marketers increased its reach by 587 percent.

Having a small advertising budget to support a marketing campaign can help you extend the reach of your campaign beyond your organic audience. There are cost-effective ways you can promote just about any campaign.

The takeaway: To boost engagement and interest, offer something exclusive to your fans.

Step 4: Collect and analyze the results

Analyzing the results of a brand awareness campaign is a crucial step in the execution process. Results determine whether goals were met and can help determine whether the product will be a success.

Tootsie Pops received 43,292 entries in just three days. This was a 702 percent increase in entries from a similar promotion it had run previously. Tootsie Pops’ Facebook post reached more than 495,000 people, and its promotion as a whole reached more than a million people.

“The promotion was a success, and people were writing in and calling, even after it was over, asking if they could become taste testers,” Huth says.

From the 43,292 entries, Tootsie Pops secured 400 taste testers, exceeding its original goal of 100. The 400 Taste Testers were mailed a Tootsie Pops sample pack that included a printed insert with a QR Code that took testers to a ShortStack-built survey with 10 feedback questions about the new pop.

It received feedback on its new Tootsie Pop flavor from 265 (roughly two-thirds) of the 400 taste testers.

The takeaway: Use a follow-up survey to gauge your audience’s interest in your new product.

Sara Piccola is the mistress of propaganda for A version of this article first appeared on Smart Blog on Social Media.

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