Cadbury’s future marketing campaigns are going to have a stronger focus on social rather than traditional media.

In a talk at Facebook Marketing 2012, Dairy Milk brand manager Sarah Lindley said that the company’s new Joyville marketing activity would seed content on social to build buzz among its online community before turning to TV and print channels.

It is a tactic that Cadbury has used successfully in the past by launching its Bitsa Wispa and Bubbly bar on Facebook and Google+.

Lindley said that a Dairy Milk campaign to celebrate achieving 1m Facebook fans was a big factor in convincing the company of the value of social.

Cadbury realised that although it had almost 1m fans only 16% of them ever saw content that the brand posted on Facebook.

The challenge was to increase the engagement among its fans, as well as reaching friends of fans and the wider Facebook community.

To test what content users would engage with, Cadbury decided to build a giant Facebook ‘like’ thumb out of pieces of Dairy Milk.

“It was about saying thank you to our fans and trying to test how much engagement we could get from it.”

To build excitement it posted teaser ads on the Facebook page with a counter hinting that something was coming to celebrate reaching 1m fans.

“We didn’t expect people to share that content, instead wanted to see whether people were coming back to see what was going on.”

The build was then live streamed in a studio decorated with user-generated content and photos. The team also responded to user requests and comments in the video to prove that it was live.

As a final reward, one fan was invited in to place the last chunk of chocolate on the giant thumb.

“It was a way to show that it was real and that we aren’t just a brand team of marketers, we are people that want to interact with you.”

Lindley said the experiment achieved good results for Cadbury. It gained 40,000 Facebook fans and more than 350,000 people were actively involved in the campaign. Some fans even left the live feed running for hours on end.

“A lot of people like a brand page and don’t go back, but this shows that they will come back if you give them something to come back for.”

Perhaps the most important result was that more than 33% of fans engaged with the campaign, which created “a highly engaged community that Cadbury can now tap into for future marketing activities.”

Cadbury also found that the best way to increase reach on Facebook is to offer fans a big reward for minimum effort on their part. While core fans may engage with all your content, to get their friends to become engaged it has to be extremely easy for them to interact.

Lindley said she would highly recommend experimenting with Facebook to see what can be achieved, but it should be supported with media buys to see raise awareness and see how far it can be pushed.

Therefore we can expect Facebook and social to be central to Cadbury’s new Joyville marketing activities, but it also means we won’t be seeing any more drumming gorillas.