[tweetmeme]Lightening didn’t strike at the recent announcement, but soap opera fans must have shuddered when they learned that Procter & Gamble, the company from whom soap operas got their name, is dropping their sponsorships after 77 years. Why? Because for a lot less money they’re reaching a lot more fans on social media.
That’s where the action is now and not in the juicy, but predictable, plots of soap operas. It was bound to happen. More working mothers, a shift in where people go for entertainment (online), the explosion in popularity of reality TV shows, and the movement of women and men to communities that form on social networks. P&G’s move was widely reported by the media. The last P&G-produced soap opera, “As The World Turns,” went off the air in September, according to an article via AP in The New York Times, having lost two-thirds of its viewers.
Social Media as a Sales Channel
As P&G pioneered soap operas in the heyday of broadcasting, it is a leader in the use of social media. It has a variety of promotions on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and smart phone apps. The company has 36 “Favorite” pages on Facebook. But I can’t imagine why 382,212 people would “like” a simple product page for Gain, a soap detergent.
What’s intriguing is that companies are selling directly from their social networks, Facebook in particular. In the case of P&G, they are using Amazon, a third-party vendor to process orders. When you order a product you get sent to Amazon.
Walmart probably still has a few years before it has to start worrying, but consumer products companies have found a new sales channel and they’re jumping on board big time.
Not that Walmart is a social media slouch, I just found a good price for vacuum cleaner on their Facebook page. However, I’m not crazy about the company’s crowdsourcing program, which they call “CrowdSaver.” You only get a good price if enough people “like” a product. Customers are warned in the rules: “The CrowdSaver price is only available if the required number of “like” votes is met.” Sounds almost punitive to me. You want to know if your promotion is working, but…
Back to P&G which says it’s still exploring new uses for social media.
“It’s kind of the oldest form of marketing — word of mouth — with the newest form of technology,” said P&G marketing chief Marc Pritchard in the Times article.