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Social media put to the test

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The owners of brands including Kelloggs’ Krave cereal and Dr Pepper are harnessing the power of social media as they find new ways to promote their products. But the true test will be whether successful online campaigns are rewarded with increased and sustainable sales.

Dr Pepper owner Coca-Cola has just announced it’s to launch a social media campaign for the brand. With the tagline ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ it will ask members to risk embarrassing themselves in exchange for ringtones and money.

The news comes within days of Kelloggs’ launch of its own social media site to promote chocolate cereal Krave just a week ago. The Choc Exchange offers members the chance to bank virtual chocolate chunks that can be used in auctions for gig tickets, games and gadgets.

Members can gain chunks by talking about the brand, including by signing up to the site’s Facebook page. It’s a formula that’s evidently working since Krave already has 39,449 Facebook fans on a page that’s only been going for less than two weeks. Just to put that into perspective, the Conservatives’ Facebook page, at the time of writing, had 29,533 members while the Labour Party had 7,064 and the Liberal Democrats 6,597. On the other hand, on the less promoted Twitter site, Krave has just 48 followers.

But the big question is, will this translate into cereal sales? That remains to be seen. We carried out a quick search for Krave which showed that while the campaign has already succeeded in generating a lot of talk about the cereal, it’s very mixed. Some have tried Krave and like it – but others really don’t.

Our view: The aim of social media is to get people talking about your product online – and as the Krave example shows, it can work to achieve that tremendously well in a very short time. It’s certainly likely to have raised awareness and we have no doubt that sales of this product will rise in the short-term. But in the long-term the question will still be that fundamental, old-fashioned one: do people like it enough to buy? We shall be watching with interest.

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