While using social media as a marketing tool seems to be all the rage currently, most companies are still just starting to explore how to effectively incorporate social media tools into their marketing mix. While many companies are watching and learning from others scaling the learning curve, several well known brands are making the plunge.
There has certainly been a flurry of Consumer Generated Media (CGM) television advertising recently ... Dove Cream Oil Body Wash aired theirs at the Oscars® and Doritos chips and Chevy cars shared theirs during the Super Bowl.
However, we are seeing more integrated campaigns which incorporate CGM into broader social media sites. MasterCard has a site called "priceless.com" where consumers can add their own visions of priceless moments in the vein of the MasterCard commercials. Although I've not seen much promotion for this site and I still wonder how effective branding MasterCard or Visa is given the similarity between what is offered - the differences coming down to features that vary from issuer to issuer. At any rate, it certainly is effective in reinforcing the image of MasterCard being the brand that enables life's priceless moments by allowing consumers to share their vision of those moments.
Hilton Hotels has a site called "behospitable.com" which I learned of in a print ad in Newsweek and it appears from the site that there is a television campaign as well. Be hospitable is both a tag line and a philosophy of which consumers are invited to share stories. Stories are linked to dots on a map of the United States which is a bit awkward to navigate. However, they've hired Brooke Channon from HGTV to host a show on the site which highlights some of the submitted stories. This feature makes finding and appreciating the stories much more immediate and accessible. I think the value of this is effort is to reinforce the quality of hospitality with the Hilton brands. It doesn't take the place though of the basics of figuring out how to build the individual brands (e.g. Waldorf Astoria, DoubleTree) while still associating them with the parent Hilton brand and of ensuring that the most important features of the hotels are present every time - for example, the bed must be comfortable! Associating the Hilton brand with hospitality and acts of kindness will ultimately mean nothing if the experience of staying in a Hilton brand hotel isn't enjoyable and doesn't meet the traveler's needs.
Country Crock® is requesting "stories of sharing" from consumers. I learned of this site from a television ad. In exchange for every story, Country Crock offers to make a donation to America's Second Harvest. This twist is smart in that it provides an incentive to consumers to share their story at Country Crock's site. Also, it reinforces the long-running advertising campaign that features the hands of a family sharing among them the spread and other Country Crock foods such as their side dishes.
None of these efforts is perfect from an outsider's perspective. They may however be doing exactly what they are meant to in helping each brand achieve its business and marketing goals which is the most important measure of their success. They do offer lessons and guidance to other brands seeking to incorporate social media tools into their marketing mix.