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Social media is very popular these days. But is it effective at bringing in revenue? Yes. This week, Josh Bernoff spoke at IAB's Social Media Conference to show how not only can social efforts increase sales, they can do so more effectively than traditional advertising.

On Monday, Forrester Research's VP and Principle Analyst took a moment to present a case study of Procter & Gamble's community building site BeingGirl. (AdAge has video of his talk.)

Bernoff chose the site because of the difficulties that surround discussing personal hygeine products. He said:

"If you don't want to talk about tampons, 13 year old girls really don't want to talk about tampons."

So how do you market a product no one wants to talk about? P&G  used an indirect approach and created a community for young girls to discuss the issues that usually plague 13 year old girls. And it worked. By providing health facts, a discussion forum, and youth oriented culture items on a site with Tampax and Always branding, P&G greatly increased sales. 

According to P&G, this strategy was four times as effective per dollar spend as advertising. And they've duplicated the site in 21 different countries.

But Bernoff used the P&G example to make a larger point: "Most products are like tampons. People don't really want to talk about your products....what you really want to talk to people about is their problems. And that will give you the opportunity to talk to them about your products."

Meghan Keane

Published 21 May, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

721 more posts from this author

Comments (6)

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Bernoff makes an excellent point that most people just want to talk
about their problems and not your products. The traditional marketing
and advertising are not working the same as they used to.
There is a great post about the weaking aroma of advertising (http://www.pilmerpr.com/blog/pr-strategy/utah-business-blog-ads-texting)
that talks about some of the same ideas.  Companies
have got to be creative like P&G to allow their customers to
actually talk. The key to remember is you communicate WITH somone and
not TO someone.

over 7 years ago

Jonathan Moody

Jonathan Moody, Freelance at Language4Communications

Absolutely, Thansen. We're working with Arbora & Ausonia (Evax, Tampax, Dodot daipers, Kandu etc) to provide them with insight and actions relating to their entire social media space (not just the communities like BeingGirl that they have set up). In fact, that's about 40 or so media that also contain competitor product comparisons, reactions to new launches/promotions and early-warnings of  possible problems.

over 7 years ago


Jeff Molander

Ok.  I'll bite.  So how do they KNOW that it increased buying activity?  Isn't that the big story here? 

I've heard P&G preach this stuff time and time again and in the end there's a lot of voodoo math (or no math) involved.

over 7 years ago



P&G did a great job addressing an issue a lot of marketers are facing: how do we find new ways to connect with our audience? This strategy can be effective regardless of the topic. It's all about building relationships that inspire sales, not direct selling in social media.

over 7 years ago



The formatting of this website does not bode well for printing. You can fix that relatively easily, by using a specially formatted print.css file. Please talk to your development staff about making Econsultancy more effective in its dissemination of content.

over 7 years ago


roofers west yorkshire

many thanks for the post

about 7 years ago

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