CAMRA, let’s get engaged

Posted on May 10, 2012

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CAMRA have got a lot on their hands just now, not only have they got the upcoming Great British Beer Festival to plan they are trying to get another 60,000 signatures on the Save Your Pint e-petition, part of their ongoing campaign to lobby Government for the duty escalator to be abolished.

Their efforts should be much applauded and supported, the escalator of a 2% + RPI rise has seen beer duty rise 42% since 2008 (including another 5% in the 2012 budget) resulting in British drinkers paying a whopping 40% of all the beer duty raised across Europe despite only drinking 13% of the beer.

With beer volumes suffering from 40 years of decline and pubs continuing to close at a steady rate never has the need been greater to scrap the duty escalator. The e-petition needs just 100,000 signatures in order to trigger a high-profile Parliamentary debate which will put pressure on the Government to abandon the beer duty escalator in the 2013 Budget.

Just a 100,000 signatures. Should be easy right – CAMRA alone have over 130k members and c500k people signed the pasty tax petition so getting people behind beer, our National drink, should be a veritable walk in the park shouldn’t it?? Sadly no, at the time of posting the e-petition is at 40,990 signatures, a good start but nowhere near good enough.

Having faced criticism in the past for not doing enough to get their members and the general public at large to sign the e-petition CAMRA have upped their game of late and had some great results – not only are they on the radio 1 website but the story ran across the day on every news update, a cracking result.

But for some strange reason the public don’t seem to be nearly as incensed that the Chancellor takes a 3rd, yes a 3rd, of the price of your pint in tax as they are at paying more for a hot pasty. So this week CAMRA, in need of a push went in search of celeb support with a series of tweets to various famous faces that also blocked the feeds of every one else that follows @camra_official.

Using twitter to gain support is a good idea, getting celebrity endorsement is a good idea. Making that happen by sending spam messages that fill up the feeds of their members is not. Did it work for them no – in fact it led to an almost immediate out cry from their followers for it to stop and spawned an unfollow CAMRA hashtag. So what went wrong?

Well, there’s a lot CAMRA (and anyone that thinks Twitter is always the answer) can learn from  ExactTarget’s excellent Subscribers, Fans, and Followers report. Winning followers for your brand or organisation is no easy job and once you’ve got them you need to love and nurture them to keep them in the fold – it’s no surprise that it’s much easier to lose followers than win them in the first place. It’s also no surprise that no 2 Twitter followers are the same and everyone is looking to feel special and build some level of affinity with the brands they follow – the clue’s in the term “social” but Exact target have identified the following reasons : –

  • To obtain new, authentic perspectives on companies and to find out what they really stand for.
  • To receive insider information about upcoming products and services. Many consumers who FOLLOW representatives of a brand—and not the brand’s corporate Twitter account—hope that important information might be leaked.
  • To get to know the personalities behind a company. For example, if a B2B company is deciding whether or not to purchase from a supplier, Twitter is useful in helping them get a behind-the-scenes look at who runs the company.
  • To receive freebies, samples, and discounts, which are sometimes offered to consumers in exchange for their input.
  • To see how a company responds when its brand is publically criticized (testing time for Diageo today!). Both individuals with Twitter accounts and those without often keep tabs on companies to see if they’d want to support that brand

Nothing ground breaking there and on the surface you’d think maybe CAMRA haven’t done anything too bad. Until you look at the reasons people stop following brands on twitter – and there lies the problem. By multi tweeting the same message CAMRA employed all 3 of the top 3 reasons that people stop following a brand on twitter. Not forgetting that all the chat was about CAMRA’s faux pas rather than the campaign itself which got lost in the melee. With 60,000 signatures still needed I hope it didn’t lose them too many followers.

CAMRA have made the fundamental miss that social media marketing is not about reach, exploiting celebrities and their many followers, social media marketing is about engagement – reaching the right people with the right content. To keep hold of your hard won followers you need  to talk to them. Listen to them. Answer their questions. Inform them. Social media  allows you to build real relationships with your followers which is very powerful meaning you can earn their trust and, crucially, influence how they talk about you to others so you can make more new friends.

So what could they have done differently? People hate promoted, spammy tweets, would you talk to your mates that way? If they’re following a brand for a new, authentic news a much more effective route would be to set up a feed for a campaign / event and then tweet news and info that actually explains what it’s about. CAMRA have that set  up – they have a feed on the website which sits on almost every page bar the homepage – make the most of it guys, get it on the  homepage (it would be much more engaging than the nasty Mr Osborne – we know what he is, do enough know about the escalator?)  promote the hashtag  and then tweet people’s news and views, a much more effective way to engage.

And if you wonder does engagement matter then these 2 tweets from Brian Dickson tell you all you need to know. CAMRA did nothing to make him want to share the news and help close that 60,000 signature gap. Just a few hours later a few well-chosen words from Tap East had him spreading the message, let’s hope more people saw the latter RT!

A great start from CAMRA but they can, and I hope will, do better when it comes to understanding social media. It’s a crucial tool for the campaign and, used well, a very powerful one.

Get signing people – your pint needs you.

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