Friday, October 15, 2010

[The Insider] Schwarze Dose 28

Since the start in 2008 Schwarze Dose 28 (also called "28black" in the US) has been more than just an energy drink based on the açai berry. Right from the beginning the brand stood for quality, natural ingredients and aesthetics. Resulting in a huge success; offline and online. When they hopped on the Facebook-Hype going through Germany last year, they took over a community Fan Page with about a thousand fans. By now they crossed the 20 thousand marker and head for even larger numbers.

Julia Akra, Head of PR at Calidris 28 Germany, met with us and gave some insights about the beginning, the current state and the future of the Social Media involvement of Schwarze Dose 28.

Graph1: Showing the increase in Likes over time
The first time Schwarze Dose noticed Social Media was during the Facebook Hype last year. Back then the Fan Page of Schwarze Dose was community driven and had about one thousand fans. When Julia researched the area she soon realised that this can't be managed by an external agency; it had to happen in-house, giving ideas and insights right from the source. As she was the only person in charge of external communication by that time and a little facebook junkie herself, she took over the community page and started experimenting with it.

There was no bigger plan behind it. She was doing what felt right; posting about internal and external affairs, answering questions and helping people find a place to buy their product. Soon the fan base started growing while service requests decreased: before a lot of people used the contact form to ask common question now they found the answers Julia had given others. But it stayed a part time experiment until they reached bigger numbers. When the Fan Page became more and more successful and the fan base grew over the 10 thousand even the Management acknowledged Julias enthusiasm, putting a link to the Fan Page in the header of the home page.

Around that time she realised there was something bigger going on. Something the Facebook Fan Page statistics confirmed: she created a vibrant and big community without even aiming for it. Giving the company a great argument in discussions with potential business partners like event agencies. But also leaving her with the questions who these people actually are. Sadly you can't get a full list of all of your Fans in Facebook so the only way to find out what topics they like to talk about is try'n'error.

This way she found out that this community likes big cars, party-ing and cocktails while other topics don't create much buzz. Like the campaign for "HalbtagsJob 2010", a creativity contest asking the competitors "what would you do with 4 hours more per day?" where the winners get paid to work on their idea half-time for half a year. Julia had expected more buzz and input from their facebook community. So Julia talks more about topics like the Schwarze Dose cocktail recipes, promotes cooperations and events (like the Golden-Limited-Edition for the Bambi) or the latest products in their online shop. And engages the community with more general questions they can relate to or does puns with the number 28. Doing all this in a forward and direct but still friendly way is how they like it a recent poll showed.

Even though this might not be the main target group the branding is aiming for there are people interested in the brand and the product, being Fans of the it actually. And having fans has its advantages: like the one time when a guy annoyed the community with repeatedly posting about same topic. Julia didn't have to use any moderation features from Facebook herself, other fans told him that they didn't like his way of annoying them so he stopped.

While their Fan base is constantly growing Julia thinks about expanding their involvements, too. Continue to look for the target audience, the Urban Creative Class above 25, and establish Schwarze Dose 28 as an alternative to Coffee and Coke during the day. Maybe with a more elaborated strategy involving twitter this time. We'll see what they'll come up with. But one thing she ensured us: While they might receive creative input from the marketing agency, Schwarze Dose 28 will not outsource Social Media!

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