Now that brands are climbing fast into the interactive space, some different approaches to the same apex are evident—especially concerning social media. While some continue to eschew social networking as a direct marketing tool, others are embracing it wholeheartedly.
At first glance, marketers can see brands that simply have a presence on established networks; a few, like Skittles.com, that merge their sites with social networks; and still others, such as Merrell.com, that not only have a presence on Facebook, but have a branded networking area for the Merrell "tribe," or consumer fans of the Rockford, Mich.-based footwear and apparel manufacturer.
Merrell's "tribe" can find its community in the "Let's Get Outside" site section, which features brand ambassadors, events and a link to the Facebook page. In the final subsection of "Let's Get Outside," itself dubbed "Where Have You Been," customers share their outdoors stories in order to win monthly prizes, up to a grand prize of an outdoor adventure for two in Bend, Ore. Marketing Manager Stephanie Tully shares more about the newly designed site launched at the beginning of February.
Target Marketing: How, and through what channel, did Merrell discover there was customer demand for this type of site?
Stephanie Tully: We've been conducting consumer research and focus groups to find our target consumers. The Merrell brand represents the active outdoor passion in everyone ... We wanted our Web site to reflect ... this outsider in everyone and provide them with a venue to communicate together, learn more about outdoor adventure and find the appropriate gear for their favorite activities.
Our consumers have been telling us that they would like a place to hang out together online; Merrell.com is one of the only places that currently provides this type of experience. It's a great paradox—getting outside by going online, but we think it works for our consumers. We've gotten great feedback since we relaunched the site.