Marie Callender's test on Whrrl during November produced 3,200 "Society" members on the geo-social platform. According to its social media agency, Collective Bias, the ConAgra-owned frozen meals brand is pleased with that statistic as well as other engagement metrics.
"This is a platform that we plan on building off of and growing throughout 2011," said Brad Lawless, director of communications for Collective Bias, Bentonville, AK. "There are plans being made."
In early November, Collective Bias sent 50 members of its "Social Fabric" team of shoppers into the frozen food aisles of Walmarts and Targets around the country to check in on Whrrl. They were supposed to seed recommendations and tips, which are integral peer-to-peer communication features on the geo-social platform. The shoppers were given money to buy Marie Callender's products.
"No one likes to be the first one at the party," Lawless said, explaining the seeding effort. "[The shoppers] were not instructed to write anything specifically in their recommendations or tips, though. They could decide all of that on their own."
Then, Marie Callender's ran a print ad on Nov. 7 in USA Weekend magazine, distributed nationally by USA Today/Gannett. The ad copy pitched the opportunity to win a $25 grocery gift card for people who joined the brand's group on Whrrl's "Family Meals Society" platform.
Over the next few weeks, 3,200 signed up. There were 5,400 recommendations by the brand's society members during that time. And based on a survey conducted by Whrrl last month, 61 percent of those members said a recommendation affected their purchase behavior.
Lawless commented on that particular statistic: "The whole idea of these programs that integrate social media with location-based services like Whrrl is that it moves people to action. So when people hit the button and make a recommendation…that is someone making a personal statement, 'I do want to interact with the brand.'"
Thirty-two percent of the members surveyed said the Whrrl platform helped bring their family closer together. Additionally, 52 percent stated they would recommend the "Family Meals Society" to friends. Since the test ended, Marie Callender's has picked up 400 additional society members.
Lawless said 3,600 total members for Marie Callender's at this stage is a good number because "it's a society that didn't exist until very recently. It's good especially since you are translating a traditional media reach with a print ad into something more visceral and online… And people are continuing to join the society and continuing to make recommendations to it."
Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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