Best practice from Immediate Future
Emotional engagement in social media
Good social media relations create an emotional engagement between the brand and its audience - a personal connection that causes consumers to assign a personality to a company, product or service.
Some products and brands are able to ignite emotional advocacy better than others. Chocolate is one of them. Frequently purchased as a gift for loved ones or as a personal treat, chocolate strikes emotional resonance in ways many other consumer goods just cannot match.
An understanding of emotional engagement is at the core of Hotel Chocolat’s marketing. It has resulted in Hotel Chocolat becoming synonymous with luxury chocolate and a household brand name.
Starting primarily as a catalogue-based company, Hotel Chocolat has experienced a huge shift as its customer base moves online. In addition to its growing network of stores across the UK, a significant proportion of its products are now frequently purchased via the Internet.
Maximising online word of mouth
Increasingly aware of the power of networked audiences as social media becomes ubiquitous, Hotel Chocolat met with immediate future to establish what more could be done to build brand equity online. immediate future devised a tailored campaign to increase Hotel Chocolat’s profile and measurably support sales activity over the Easter period.
Engaging with key online influencers
During the research and planning phase, immediate future conducted a full online audit. Identifying clusters of interest, they looked for topics that would enable Hotel Chocolat to enter the conversation.
A healthy ecosystem of chocolate fans was found, alongside diary bloggers, foodies, wine lovers and mum’s networks. Influencers were discovered within each of these interest clusters.
Contact was initiated with influential bloggers and online journalists – offering Easter eggs for review. A resoundingly positive response was received, with bloggers posting hugely complimentary reviews and quickly becoming strong advocates for the quality of the chocolate.
Online Easter egg hunt
Following this initial introduction of key online influencers to the Hotel Chocolat brand, focus shifted to engaging directly with advocates online. This took the form of an ‘online Easter egg hunt’.
Partnerships were struck with influential bloggers and online publications, who were each given a set of Easter-themed questions to post on their site. Readers on the sites had to answer the questions by searching online – the resulting answers forming a code that had to be entered on the Hotel Chocolat site.
Successful entrants were entered into a prize draw for a luxury Easter hamper. Each partner blog or site was assured that one of their readers would win a prize – different codes from each site allowed the different pools of entrants to be divided and prizes to be distributed accordingly.
In total nine sites partnered with Hotel Chocolat to run the ‘online Easter egg hunt’ including Guardian Unlimited. The novelty design of the competition also ensured widespread pick-up in traditional media online and throughout the blogosphere.
A Hotel Chocolat Facebook group was also created as part of the overall campaign – which quickly grew in volume over a short period. Hotel Chocolat web analytics showed that over half of the group’s members made visits to the Hotel Chocolat site as a result.
Search engine friendly PR
Each element of the campaign was supported with SEO PR activity. immediate future drafted consumer-facing releases and worked closely with Hotel Chocolat’s search marketing consultancy to ensure they were optimised with relevant SEO phrases. Releases were posted on relevant wires, allowing embedded URL links to be added, connecting to relevant parts of the Hotel Chocolat site.
A secondary objective of engaging with influential bloggers was to drive SEO ranking. immediate future harnessed the link etiquette of the blogosphere, ensuring that blog posts included appropriate web addresses and key phrases
Blog posts tend to command high rankings within Google results and the aim was to create positive comments and opinion in the Google search window.
Measurable social media results
Over 100 positive online pieces of coverage resulted directly from activity over the six-week campaign period. A large number of influential bloggers placed numerous posts throughout the campaign – becoming powerful advocates for the brand.
SEO PR and blog relations activity vastly improved Hotel Chocolat’s Google rankings – ensuring positive coverage and recommendations were returned on key search phrases.
At the end of the campaign, coverage generated as a result of the online PR activity accounted for 23 rankings in the first 100 Google search returns for “Hotel Chocolat”. The ‘online Easter egg hunt’ proved to be enormously popular, with almost 4,500 entries on the Hotel Chocolat site.
Positive advocacy and reputation
The Hotel Chocolat brand strongly resonated with audiences online. The majority of bloggers peppered their reviews with their own scintillating gourmet photos.
Reviews were frequently linked to by other bloggers, spreading quickly across the web.
Six weeks of online PR activity gave a huge boost to Hotel Chocolat’s presence online. immediate future is now Hotel Chocolat’s retained online PR agency.
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