Brownes milks social media revolt

03/08/2015 - 12:21

Brownes Dairy believes it has benevolently quelled a social media revolt sparked by its move late last year to alter its flavoured milk recipes.

CHIILLED OUT: Natalie Sarich-Dayton hired Joe Ford as a Brownes Chill ambassador. Photo: Philip Gostelow

Brownes Dairy believes it has benevolently quelled a social media revolt sparked by its move late last year to alter its flavoured milk recipes.

Within days of releasing 12 new milk products in late 2014, the company was hit by a storm of protest on Facebook and other social media sites.

Brownes Dairy marketing manager Natalie Sarich-Dayton said the company had reformulated its recipes to have a more full-bodied taste that relied on natural ingredients, after market research revealed its Chill flavoured milk products were losing out to eastern states competitors.

While some consumers responded well to the new drinks, stripped of artificial flavours, many regular drinkers of Mocha Chill in particular were outraged enough to start petitions to bring back the old recipe.  

“We totally underestimated how loyal they were. They didn’t like the new taste and they were very vocal,” Ms Sarich-Dayton said.

“They were almost like trolls. They were not going to go away, and rightly so, they felt like they were robbed.

“So instead of ignoring them we reached out to all of them and invited them to come to Brownes Dairy to help us understand what was so good about the old Mocha Chill and what was not right about the new one.”

In addition, the Brownes marketing team, which had recently increased its online engagement by hiring a ‘mummy blogger’, turned to one of its more opinionated online users for help.

“When we relaunched and a lot of people were being vocal online, either positively or negatively, there was this character who got on there and … he was writing posts that were similar in tone to our radio campaign,” Ms Sarich-Dayton said.

“We were reading his posts and going, ‘oh my gosh, he just got it.”

So the dairy invited Joe Ford, part-time lifeguard and lawn mower man, to write paid posts that would appeal to those in the flavoured milk market, who are mostly young and male.

With Mr Ford’s help and through setting up an online social media strategy, Ms Sarich-Dayton said Brownes had doubled its Facebook likes in less than a year.

“He’s almost building a tribe,” she said.

Mr Ford said while some Perth companies had no concept of how to build relationships online, or only used their sites to push one-way marketing content, he believed those that used spontaneous humour and were responsive would get results.

“You’ve got to interact with your fans, you can’t just put an advert on and leave it. When someone says something, say something back. Make them feel important,” he said.

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