Thursday, December 2

Studying Social Media: A Bacardi Survey Didn't Mix

In what seems to be a solid survey from a least likely source, Bacardi released some interesting findings about social media. The survey, called the Bacardi Together Index, asked 5,000 adults (ages 21+) more than 146 questions to provide a glimpse of online and offline social connections.

But before getting into the release of the study and why you never heard about it, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the findings. Some are surprising; others reinforce what we already know. It was released just just prior to Thanksgiving.

Key Findings From The Bacardi Together Index.

• “Social media togetherness” is not the same as “in-person togetherness.” Social media togetherness is quicker and less emotionally meaningful amongst respondents.

• 64 percent of respondents believe being together with family and friends is important, more so than getting a raise (51 percent), having a career (47 percent), and having the best of everything (30 percent).

• 57 percent of respondents consider holidays as the most likely occasion to get together with friends, including the current holiday season, birthdays, Fourth of July, Mother's Day, and Father's Day.

• The primary circumstances that prevent togetherness include a lack of money (58 percent), lack of friends (43 percent), geographic distance from friends and family (40 percent), and finding the time to be with others (50 percent).

• Those who live in cities (47 percent) or just outside of a city (44 percent) appear to have more physical and emotional togetherness than those living in the suburbs (38 percent) or rural areas (31 percent).

If The Study Is Solid, Why Didn't Anybody See It?

While I can only guess at the behind-the-scenes planning, the outcomes suggest that the effort wasn't well thought out. Specifically, the tactical execution is mostly intact, but the strategic planning seems unforgivingly absent.

The study release included a shareable multimedia address. There, the page includes highlights of the study, a related document, photos, and related links. It also had a content thin video, embedded below.


In addition to related links, there were several additional unrelated promotional links, such as the Bacardi Mix Master application and an additional document featuring the Barcardi Legendary Cocktails list. What this has to do with social connections (despite the painfully thin marketing opportunity kind), we may never know. And, the photos are boring, merely screenshots of the video.

But more importantly than infusing unrelated marketing into the mix, this entire release seems to lack purpose. Media outlets would likely dismiss the source and chuckle at the promotional embeds. Social media experts weren't in the distribution mix so they never saw it anyway (the release was made available through media distribution channels). And the audience, well, they aren't that interested in social media surveys.

At least, they don't seem to be interested. None of the fourteen share buttons caught any real traction. And, even Bacardi's own social network accounts seem suspect. Don't get me wrong. They have followers (147,000+ on Facebook/19,000+ on Twitter).

However, the Twitter account hadn't been updated since October. The Facebook account was updated only five times in November. Neither mentions the survey.

Maybe that makes sense. Why expect a semi-neglected "fan base" to share marketing survey information that hasn't been packaged for their benefit? Or, maybe more apparent, based on usage, Bacardi isn't convinced social works and the agency (sorry) doesn't really get social anyway.

The Likely Path Of Planning.

Chances are Bacardi was conducting the study anyway. It's part of their research for a "togetherness" campaign that many spirits companies have tried to own over the years. Once it was completed, someone said social media experts might be interested. And, perhaps, someone else remembered their PR 101 class that suggested news outlets like holiday-related news and surveys.

Then someone else suggested they put it up for everyone, because you never know who might be interested. (Maybe it will go viral!) So someone else concluded that if it is going viral, they better plant some good old fashioned marketing mix lists in there.

In the end, somehow the whole thing was produced as a social media page with no defined audience or purpose and then announced via a traditional newswire blast with no intended audience beyond everybody. So what happened? Pretty much nothing, despite some relatively decent findings that have been ignored.

All those varied ideas didn't mix. Either that or someone spent too much time sampling the product.

What Could Have Happened?

The study could have been sent to any number of specific media and social media pundits who might have an expressed interest. And while most of them might still wonder about the source connection, it still could have made an interesting story.

In one instance, Bacardi even pinpointed which cities lean toward togetherness and which do not. That's interesting. Of course, it also might have been interesting to have asked people about something related to the product like, I dunno, drinking?

Some tidbits from the study could have also been repurposed and repackaged into little nuggets for consumers who want content (but don't get content) via their Bacardi social network connection. And, at the same time, these people would probably be the most likely to have an interest in the ill-placed promotional docs and apps.

The media and social media peeps would not. Of course, a few spirit-related pubs might have. (Not to mention, a better video, on YouTube, could have captured more views.)

Even more interesting than any of this would have been the release of a new drink for the 2010 holidays. Or, maybe, a mini-contest for the best Bacardi-inspired holiday drink as submitted by their online customers. It sounds like fun, it's engaging, and (what do you know) it fits within the current togetherness theme.
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