Lidl surprised consumers in the UK recently with its new TV campaign that aimed to alter perceptions of the brand.

Popular opinion suggests that you get what you pay for at Lidl, so the products match the low, low prices.

However the #LidlSurprises ads play on that image by showing consumers who are pleasantly surprised at the quality of the retailer’s various produce.

The campaign comes as the grocery chain is plotting a £220m UK expansion that will help it to further capitalise on its already soaring sales figures, with revenue expected to reach £4bn in 2014 up from £2bn in 2010.

It’s rival for the crown of the people’s favourite budget retailer comes in the form of Aldi, which achieved sales growth of 35.3% in Q1 2014.

Both retailers have been trying to reinvigorate their marketing with a focus on digital and social media, so I thought it would be interesting to see what Lidl and Aldi are up to on Facebook and Twitter…

Facebook

Looking purely at the number of fans, Aldi has its nose in front with 720,000 compared to 660,000 for Lidl.

But as we know, it’s not all about the size of your fan base. So how do these two retailers keep their communities engaged?

Well Aldi sticks to the age old social media tactic of tricking people into liking its content by offering incentives and rewards.

It’s a fairly cynical way of artificially generating activity on your brand page, and Facebook was supposed to be clamping down on this tactic.

During the spring and summer months Aldi posted a couple of updates each week, but that has now increased to daily posts which nearly all beg for ‘likes’ and comments.

It’s pretty lame really, and an expensive way to run a Facebook page as it means Aldi is constantly giving away vouchers. On the plus side, it frequently receives more than 10,000 ‘likes’.

Even the posts that don’t explicitly incentivise engagement try to suggest that people should hit the ‘like’ button.

The most interesting thing Aldi has done recently was to accept a nomination for the Ice Bucket Challenge, after which it nominated M&S and Waitrose.

Lidl also does its fair share of asking people to ‘like’ its updates, though it’s not as persistent as its rival.

Much of the content is focused around product or recipe suggestions alongside questions aimed at getting people to comment and share.

This gets much lower levels of fan interaction, with typically only a few hundred ‘likes’ and shares on each post.

Lidl does a pretty good job of responding to user comments, particularly if they’re making a complaint.

The exact operating hours are laid out in the ‘About’ information, which includes weekends. In contrast, Aldi doesn’t appear to monitor user comments and only responds to users if they have won a competition.

Finally, though the #LidlSurprises TV campaign has generally been well-received, there are only two references to it on the brand’s Facebook page.

On 28 August Lidl posted a sneak preview of the ad, and has subsequently used the hashtag only once.

This doesn’t reflect well on Lidl’s claims to be making a greater effort to use social media as part of its marketing strategy.

Twitter

Aldi’s Twitter feed is also very much focused on promotions and competitions.

In the past week it has hosted three different giveways, with prizes including a £50 voucher, baking items and a high chair.

Each competition involves a different hashtag and a request to submit an idea or an image.

For example, the #MessyFace campaign asked mums to tweet a picture of their baby’s face in return for the chance to win a high chair.

It becomes a bit repetitive, but is also guaranteed to keep the brand’s 97,000 followers engaged.

Aldi also mixes in a lot of product suggestions and recipe ideas, though it doesn’t tweet many links as it doesn’t yet have an ecommerce site.

Over at Lidl the Twitter stream is largely made up of the same content that it shares on Facebook.

There’s nothing especially wrong with this tactic, though it does fail to take into account the different features of each network.

Lidl frequently retweets other users who mention the brand or use the #LidlSurprises hashtag. It also responds to a huge number of @mentions from other users, both positive and negative.

This ranges from questions about products, complaints about service in-store, or just people mentioning the fact that they’ve shop in Lidl.

As with Facebook, Lidl stipulates the social team’s operating hours, so people aren’t left wondering why they haven’t got a response.

 

In fairness, Aldi also does a good job of responding to its followers, so both brands are clearly aware of the importance of interacting with their customers via social.

In conclusion…

In my humble opinion both of these brands need to do some work to improve their content marketing efforts.

They’re both maintaining active social channels, which is a good thing, but incentivising ‘likes’ and shares is a very old school tactic and one that most brands have moved away from.

There’s little that people would want to share if there wasn’t a prize on offer, and none of it seems to tie into the brand’s wider marketing activity.

Lidl has just launched a £20m TV campaign, but barely mentions it on its social channels.

On the plus side, both Aldi and Lidl are quick to respond to brand mentions on Twitter, so clearly they are making efforts to be more engaging on social. 

But there’s still some work to be done on the content front.

Econsultancy’s Festival of Marketing event in November is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, FT.com and more.