malibuWith two thirds of adults now connected to at least one Social Media platform, its rise over the past few years has been staggering.

It’s hardly surprising therefore, that companies have followed consumers on to these social platforms in an attempt to engage with them and get noticed.

What is surprising however, is that some brands don’t seem to have put much thought into their social engagement strategy; they’re more about being social for social’s sake, rather than being social by design and really understanding what it is they want to achieve by connecting with existing and prospective customers via Social Media.

Social media platforms can provide unparalleled rich, up-to-date information on consumers that can significantly augment the data an organisation collects via traditional marketing channels, CRM activity and customer service touch-points.

Large social networks like Facebook provide a mechanism for brands to permissibly access user data from Facebook via an API protocol called Open Graph. This protocol, if considered and executed properly by brands, can bolster the wealth of data insight for existing and prospective customers which should improve their overall marketing effectiveness.

In reality many brands limit their social strategy to creating a branded timeline on Facebook in order to broadcast widespread communications in an attempt to respond and engage individual users that have ’liked’ their page. This, however, doesn’t grant them the right to access the full, rich Open Graph data for those users.

The Facebook app is the gateway to this rich information, allowing brands access to opted-in user information for people who connect and sign up to the app.

And the benefits for brands don’t stop there; Communication, content and user interaction will appear higher up a user’s news feed, rather than a post on a brand’s timeline, because the platform’s algorithms are more favourable to this form of interaction as they consider the content more engaging. This, in turn, often provides a ripple affect across that user’s social graph highlighting the content to a much broader audience.  

Organisations that understand this have been able to connect with their customers and harvest a wealth of additional data and insight to feed their marketing and communications. Despite this reality, many organisations have still yet to grasp the fundamental principles of what constitutes a fair value exchange with users who interact via social media platforms.

Brands that have successfully produced and promoted apps as genuine value propositions understand that the app must create at least one of the following key value drivers; exclusivity, entertainment or continual utility.


Malibu VIP is a great example of an app that encourages users to unlock exclusive content by earning points each time they visit. Malibu offer value to their 30,000 monthly active users in terms of articles and drinks recipes, as well as access to competitions. In return, they’re using their social platform to directly target and interact with women as part of their wider Malibutique campaign.

Entertainment have taken a completely different approach with their Fruit Picker app, which has seen them top the Social Brands 100 rankings.  It’s one of the best examples of an app that delivers value through entertainment.

As a brand, they’ve ended up delivering a highly engaging game that users can share with their friends, stemming from a simple concept of picking fruit.

The aim of the game is to make sure the numerous fruit pickers don’t bump into each other, which proves infuriatingly enjoyable whilst emulating their brand nicely.


Whilst Unilever haven’t developed a game, there’s certainly an element of ‘gamification’ to their VIP app that aims to provide a longer term utility and relationship with consumers directly.

Their app engages with users by allowing them to continually propose new product ideas for some of their favourite brands (Domestos, Persil, Flora, and PG tips to name but a few) and rewards and recognises those ideas across their VIP app community.

There’s a clear value exchange here; users get to connect with the brand by helping to directly shape the products they use every day. They also get rewarded with access to offers and discounts.

Unilever benefits by strengthening their numerous different brands and acquiring greater insight on their customers. They have created a mechanism for interacting and engaging with their consumers more directly, frequently and effectively.

It’s important to highlight that the use of apps may not be right for all brands; these propositions require careful consideration and must align with the existing brand values. However, for those that do choose to employ this form of social engagement, it’s vital to deliver something that will be valued.

The value exchange is a concept that is so central to all forms of marketing that it’s amazing that some companies don’t seem to understand that this too applies to social media. By offering the consumer something they want, they’ll interact with you, which is ultimately what the very term ‘social’ is all about. In return brands will gain permissible opt-in access to the rich social data linked to the consumers of their products and services.