Assistant Digital Marketing Manager
Ben & Jerry's
Mike Hayes, assistant digital marketing manager at Ben & Jerry’s, a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever, is responsible for overseeing digital marketing programs in the US, which include the company’s social media platforms for both its packaged and retail businesses, including 300 scoop shops. He spoke with eMarketer’s Tobi Elkin about the ice cream brand’s involvement on Instagram and Pinterest and opportunities to bond with consumers via social media.
eMarketer: Can you tell me about your involvement in Instagram and Pinterest?
Mike Hayes: We’re on both Instagram and Pinterest. We’ve been on Instagram for about 14 months and are up to about 70,000 followers now. It’s an awesome community. People love indulging in our products and sharing pictures of themselves eating our products.
We always try to love our fans more than they love us, so each Friday we run a program that features our fans’ photos. We call it Fan Photo Friday. We’ll take one photo that a fan has hashtagged “Ben & Jerry’s” and feature that on Fridays. But we’ve done all sorts of different stuff on Instagram. We’re on Pinterest with a bunch of different boards.
“We want to reward our fans and say thank you for sharing all these photos that are often really amazing.”
eMarketer: Fan Photo Friday sounds like it’s a way to actually showcase and use the content that consumers are creating.
Hayes: Yes. We always need to post stuff on Instagram, so we need photos—there’s that aspect of it. But we also want to reward our fans and say thank you for sharing all these photos that are often really amazing. It hits on a couple of different points.
eMarketer: Do you ever use any of those images in campaigns, marketing collateral or on the website? Are there ways in which you leverage some of this content internally and externally?
Hayes: We’re working on an idea. One of the problems that we’ve encountered with Instagram is that it’s hard to understand what our community is, who’s following us and where they live. If we wanted to do any sort of contest or program, it really needs to be a global program and to involve all 35 countries we’re in. That has a lot of challenges. But it is something that we are working on right now.
We definitely want to do something with Instagram to reward our fans and to use the great content that they’ve been producing. It’s still up in the air right now, but it involves loving our fans more than they love us and saying thank you to them for the content that they’ve been posting.
“Our best ideas and some of our best photos have come from our fans.”
eMarketer: What are some best practices or opportunities that you would suggest brands pursue when they’re trying to work closely with their fans and bloggers?
Hayes: The most important thing is probably just to listen. Our best ideas and some of our best photos have come from our fans. Don’t think you’re just going to hop on social media, send out your status updates and tweets and everything is going to be honky-dory and that you don’t have to listen to anyone. It’s a two-way street. You have to listen to your fans, engage and talk with them and create relationships.
We had no idea what Instagram was going to be like for us when we started, same thing with Pinterest, Google+ and Tumblr and all these emerging platforms. It’s all about testing and just being there. And the Fan Photo Friday thing was just a random idea I had. I had no idea it would have any traction or go anywhere, but it has actually picked up traction and it encourages people to share.
A longer version of this interview is available to eMarketer Total Access clients only. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Total Access client, click here.
Check out today’s other articles, “Reduced Estimate for Facebook Revenues” and “Social Networking in India Rises Quickly Among Web Users.”