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October 20, 2009

Bacardi Rum, 80 Million Bucks & Facebook

Bacardi recently launched its latest campaign, called “Islands,” which is poised to make a splash (pun intended) in the world of social media — but in the end, what is the company trying to accomplish? Like any successful marketing campaign, a social media push should do two things: build the brand and sell more rum. The real question social marketers want to know is, how does Bacardi go about dropping a good amount of marketing money in social media and drive sales?

From what I can tell, company strategists have decided to spend the entire budget (which is probably less than $80 million) on a one-minute commercial and then post it on YouTube and Facebook. It would be unfortunate if that was the entire scope of the campaign, because the video is fantastic and the possibilities for engagement on Bacardi’s behalf are huge. For that to happen, however, strategists need to take a few more steps.

First of all, as of Oct. 14 the rum giant had 32,187 fans on its official Facebook page; compare that to the more than 432,000 fans Absolut vodka has, and it looks like the “Islands” campaign has its work cut out for it. A heavy digital campaign skewed toward social media ramping up the fans should be Bacardi’s No. 1 priority.

Of all the social channels, Facebook fans are your most important brand advocates; this is Bacardi’s loyal army of enthusiasts that serve as the gateway to the rest of the most valuable social network we have. One way to the think of these fans is to to consider how online marketers place a lifetime value on each email address they collect. While calculating the value of a Facebook fan is not as straightforward, I’ll bet you money their worth is at least 10 times that of an email address.

Also, thanks to the free analytics section available on corporate fan pages, a big digital push can be looked at in terms of how successful each post was in driving engagement. What are fans reposting, how many people click “like,” and what are the fans sharing?

Of course this begs the question of how you get more fans. Obviously dropping a ton of cash on a new campaign offline helps — but there are some easy ways to drive this number. The first one is the most obvious: Take the channel (Facebook) seriously. Putting your TV spots up there is probably not going to cut it. Bacardi needs to create a voice that the brand inhabits, one that speaks specifically to this audience.

Additionally, no one can become a fan if they don’t know you have a fan page. Drop on some of the tchotchkes that get handed out at clubs; also, some Facebook ads probably wouldn’t hurt.

Another great way to ramp up your fans is to offer them something they can’t get elsewhere. I’m sure Bacardi, like most liquor companies, sponsors a night out where drink specials and trinkets are featured — so how about one just for the fans? Absolut recently offered 10 of its Facebook fans the chance to win tickets to a Jay Z concert it was sponsoring, showing that the company both takes its fans seriously and offers something unique for their friendship.

Having a conversation with your Facebook audience goes to the heart of what makes social media the best marketing channel to come along since email. This is permission-based marketing with a built-in viral component, complete with a full set of analytics going out to a demographic that most advertisers would kill for.

Jared Stivers is a founding partner and the CEO of San Francisco-based Walker+Stivers Analytics, a social media analytics firm. Contact him here.