Social Brands 100 Q&A: Tetley

Tetley has been shortlisted in this year’s Social Brands 100. Find out the results and download the report tomorrow morning from 9am GMT at www.socialbrands100.com. Join the conversation at #sb100.

Drinking tea may be a fundamentally social activity, but how to replicate that experience in social spaces? For Tetley, the world’s second largest manufacturer and distributor of tea, it meant bringing back the animated characters that are the Tetley Tea Folk after a 10-year break to provide a human and emotional connection to the brand.

Anand Gandesha, Tetley Marketing Manager, talked to us about how the brand approaches social, 2 years after the return of the Folk.

1.     What do you think makes yours a social brand?

Sociability is an inherent quality of our product – people coming together over a cup of tea. We saw social media as an extension of that quality and use it as an extension of the values of our brand across multiple platforms. It breaks down the barriers between the brand and the consumer and creates an emotional connect with them.

2.     Can you tell us a little about how social fits into your communications mix?

We wanted to use social as a new way of reaching our audiences in a category that’s got little differentiation and is very promotionally driven. So we made it a key channel in the mix of TV, media partnerships, print and digital. It’s our opportunity to communicate daily with our consumers and very valuable.

Through research, we realised that people, in general, talk to characters more naturally in social spaces than they do brands. So after a 10-year hiatus, we found a new purpose for Tetley’s Tea Folk characters – as social media hosts. With their built-in brand equity, they were actually a softer and warmer channel of communication, yet a new voice that consumers wouldn’t mind sitting down with.

It had been 10 years since the Tetley Tea Folk were in the public eye. Consumers felt they were old fashioned but these cheeky characters had other ideas. Their leader, Gaffer, became the active spokesperson most ardent supporter for a better tea break.

The Tetley Tea Folk social personas took hold, prominent on Facebook, posting on YouTube while Gaffer tweeted about all of it. The content we created was aimed to invite young women to sit down and have a cuppa with Gaffer and the Tea Folk, digitally speaking anyway.

Followers and fans shared their favourite tea break stories. There were giveaways and games. We invited British music, sports and comedy celebri-teas to join the conversation. The Tea Folk are not only timely and fun, but make tea breaks better.

We also support our company CSR initiative through Facebook with the ‘Tetley Farmers First Hand’ page, allowing customers to talk directly to the farmers who pick our tea. Although for a completely different purpose, the engagement levels are up to 8 times the Facebook average and legitimise this as a communications choice for CSR.

3.     What are you most proud of achieving in social media over the last year?

Our customers are used to supermarket loyalty cards and receiving rewards for participation. We used this as inspiration to develop the Tetley Loyal-Tea Club and to motivate users, we made it into a game.

The rewards were digital (facebook badges) and real (product and merchandise). Participants were rewarded with points in four ways: by inviting their friends to join the Page, when their friends converted to fans, by sharing content, and by entering a daily prize quiz.

On launch, we had no idea how the public was going to react to the initiative. It was great when we reached our 6-month KPI in seven days and sustained engagement levels well above the Facebook average.

 4.     What’s changed for you over the last year in social media?

There are many, many more brands in social media now, including our competitors. We have to continually come up with new and different ways to engage our users. The business challenge is monitoring and ROI. We’re doing a lot of work to define the value of these communications and the ROI to the business as we grow and develop.

 5.     What do you see changing over the next 12 months?

ROI is still key. There are many ways of monitoring engagement, buzz, purchase intent etc, but none are universally followed. As social media develops, we need to be able to measure the impact of the investment on the brand and business.

With regards to strategy, we will continue to develop our social media strategy in line with the wider business. We want to look at linking Facebook activity to purchase (both directly and indirectly) and how social media can facilitate real life connections of people coming together for a cuppa.

 6.     Any last thoughts?

After all this, it’s time for a tea break.

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