Today, the use of social media in marketing is such a powerful tool as it enables conversations to be created between the consumer and the product. The consumer then identifies with the brand and is engaged especially when brands are able to convey positive images through their messaging. What marketers are striving for, is to create customer evangelism (Neti, 2011) when they are able to go beyond purchasing the products but are also loyal advocates as explained in the marketing funnel in Figure 1.
The motivation behind this research is to uncover the Social Media Strategy of Red Bull and analyze how their current strategy of employing word of mouth marketing through brand ambassadors and megaphoning can be improved with the use of social media.
Red Bull is known for their extensive reach and coverage in promoting the values of the ‘adrenaline junkie’ and one who seeks adventure (Red Bull, 2016). It has been widely targeting sports enthusiasts as well as young people especially university organizations and student bodies, through the use of student brand ambassadors. Thus, we would like to find out if these brand ambassadors; known as Student Brand Managers (SBMs) and Wings Team Members (WTMs) are able to relay the brand through their own social networks effectively (Bughin, Doogan & Vetvik, 2010).
For the purpose of this research, we have narrowed down this research to study the effectiveness of these Red Bull Brand Ambassadors, SBMs and WTMs, in Singapore and how they have managed to reach out to tertiary schools in Singapore; namely Junior Colleges, Polytechnics, Universities and other tertiary Institutions.
Critical Analysis of social media use
Use of social media analysis tool to evaluate organization’s current use
With the help of marketing tools, we were able to gather insight on Red Bull’s engagement on social media platforms; Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, during the recent period of 24 April 2016 to 23 May 2016.
Red Bull SG Facebook Analysis
Based on a social media analysis, the engagement during this period on the Red Bull Singapore Facebook Account, the growth of fans seem to be decreasing from a 3% growth at the beginning of that month to a -5% decrease at the end as shown in Figure 2. The level of engagement was also low with only a 20% rate of interaction. (Social Bakers Analytics, 2016)
Red Bull SG Instagram Analysis
Similarly, Red Bull Singapore faces a low engagement rate on Instagram with a declining interaction rate within the month from 25 likes to 5 likes and 22 comments to 19 comments (interactions per 1000 followers), as seen in Figure
Red Bull SG Twitter Analysis
While their Facebook and Instagram accounts seem to have some activity, even if the engagement levels are not impressive, the Red Bull SG Twitter account is not an effective platform in comparison with their other social media accounts. There has been no activity in the Twitter Account in that month and the total number of followers seem to have taken a dip as shown in Figure 4. (Social Bakers Analytics, 2016)
The social media analysis on the current use of Red Bull SG’s Social Media Accounts is helpful in indicating the level of engagement and activity within a month which enables us to form a deduction that the local accounts are not performing actively, especially in regard to generating content alongside their Student Brand Managers (SBMs) and Wings Team Members (WTMs).
Analysis of the Global and Singaporean Social Media Accounts
We did a comparison of the Global and Local Red Bull accounts in order to find out how the accounts in Singapore fair in comparison to their Global brand and to see if the reach is as similar. We used the same time frame as well in order to make a fair comparison and analyze the social media activity within the period of 24 April 2016 to 23 May 2016. We also chose to compare between the Facebook and Instagram accounts as they are the more active accounts in Singapore.
The Global Red Bull Facebook account has 45.3 million Likes with an average of 5-8 posts per 24 hours, average of 750 shares per post, average of 14,000 Likes per post and 2% of the comments being replied, (Synthesio, 2016). In comparison, the Red Bull SG Facebook account has 20,610 likes with posts created only during events.
The Global Red Bull Instagram account has 4.6 million followers with an average of 4 posts per 24 hours with likes amounting up to 108,000 the highest in the month. (Synthesio, 2016). In contrast, the Red Bull SG account only has 263 posts and 1552 followers.
Evidently, Red Bull SG accounts are not performing as well as their Global counterparts. This calls for higher active participation and engagement via social media for Red Bull Singapore. Moreover, the content on the two social media platforms mainly drive the user back to the Global page and only covers local events. The idea of engaging the local consumers is not explicitly shown in these Red Bull SG accounts.
Analysis of Red Bull Singapore’s Hashtags
In order to find out the level of engagement in the area of SBMs and WTMs on the Red Bull SG social media accounts, we analyzed the current use of Hashtags used by these Red Bull Singapore ambassadors. We analyzed 3 hashtags related to the ambassadors and 1 hashtag for Red Bull Singapore. The former, consisted of #beststudentjobintheworld with 2972 posts, #wingsteamsg with 275 posts and #sgsbm with 174 posts and the latter, #Redbullsg had 2175 posts. It is very apparent that these hashtags, while they seem to promote the word of mouth marketing element to the brand, has low levels of engagement. As such, more can be done to increase the activity on the local accounts.
After understanding the low level of engagement rates on the Red Bull Singapore accounts and the use of their hashtags, we were able to conclude that the local social media accounts needed more attention and retention from local consumers. Moreover, there is little emphasis or exposure of the SBMs and WTMs in the various Red Bull SG social media accounts. The content in these accounts are mainly driven by featuring professionals and extreme sports influencers, based on the Global Red Bull pages. Therefore, we have come up with a research question in order to bridge the gap in the content of the Singapore and Global accounts and at the same time, increase the level of engagement in the Red bull SG accounts, by finding out;
How does Red Bull utilize their Marketing Strategy in integrating Student Brand Managers and Wings Team Members through the use of social media in Singapore Tertiary Schools?
Moreover, we would like to build up on the content used in the Red Bull SG accounts by making it more localized and suited for the Singaporean population. By localizing the content, we are able to reach out and find a common ground and understanding in the Singaporean context, and in turn, be able to engage students in Tertiary Schools in Singapore and bring about the awareness of our local Student Brand Managers and Wings Team Members.
We conducted qualitative interviews by meeting up with 2 Wings Team Members, 1 Student Brand Manager and 1 Regional Marketing Manager individually in order to find out their sentiments toward the brand and understand how Red Bull has been able to employ the word of mouth marketing strategy through the use of SBMs and WTMs. These interviews were conducted face-to-face and they were recorded for an accurate analysis. Questions asked were mainly around the program and activity of the SBMs and WTMs and we found out that these ambassadors are usually tasked to engage in school events and actively reach out to various student organizations in order to create collaborations and sponsorships for events and activities. They are usually involved in mostly sports clubs in the schools and provide Red Bull products during sports matches and sports events. On top of that, the SBM who was interviewed included that in order to reach out to the whole student population, he distributes Red Bull drinks in the school library and study areas during exam periods and posts about them on social media, garnering a lot of mentions and likes. The WTMs that were interviewed also mentioned that on top of visiting school events, they make regular trips down to the campuses in Singapore on normal school days in order to increase awareness of the brand and allow students to try the drink.
This concludes that the reach that the SBMs and WTMs are trying to achieve is not only in the consumers who are interested in sports but also the general student population. The brand is being advocated to them as a lifestyle mirroring around the idea of being youthful, fun and adventurous. Hence, they reach out more to the general student population and engage them through social media so that they can garner a community of students who can identify with the brand.
On top of finding out about the activities that the SBMs and WTMs do in order to engage consumers, we also asked them about their own personal sentiments towards the brand. We see generally positive sentiments towards the brand and that these ambassadors have a high identification with the brand as seen in Figure 5.
These SBMs and WTMs feel a positive inclination towards their jobs as they feel that they have been able to reach out to the community and have brought about positive feelings along with the brand and the drinks that they provide. They also highlight that their jobs allow them to create conversations and relationships with the consumers that they interact with.
Based on further investigation, Red Bull has been rated 3.9 out of 5 as a great brand to work for and that 76% of its employees would recommend having a career with Red Bull to a friend (Glassdoor, 2016). This highlights that Red Bull not only focuses on the positive brand image to consumers but to their employees as well.
In order to develop more insight into the local sentiments towards the brand and how consumers generally view the brand, we used a social media analysis tool to derive at the overall brand sentiments (Rambocas & Gama, 2013).
We have found that 55% of the mentions of the brand on social media was negative and 45% was positive (Sentiment 140, 2016). However, after developing more insight into these results, we attributed that a majority of the negative sentiments mirrored in the tool could be due to false analyses based on phrases such as “I’m tired” or “I’ve been all day without a Red Bull”. As such, we decided to streamline our findings by eliminating these phrases and found that majority of the conversations on social media are neutral 60% and 30% positive and 10% negative (Synthesio, 2016) as seen in Figure 6.
Case Study: GoPro’s Brand Marketing Strategy
GoPro strongly promotes personal heroism among its consumers, by empowering users to feel professional with their cameras. It uses its camera as a means to create content. With a small and durable camera, it can be attached to almost anywhere. This brings about innovative videos as videos are shot from creative angles and with the highest quality. Apart from investing in amateur content, GoPro simultaneously encourages professional’s input too. With the large quantity of user generated content, it enahnces cultural citizenship through the constant sharing of one’s home community. Furthermore, it also emphasizes on users’ strong preferences to share knowledge and culture in communities. The strong participatory engagement shakes up power relationsihps between the media and users. It has also evolved from being a tactic to promote GoPro cameras, to a brand that cultivates innovation in its community.
Comparing GoPro’s Branding to Red Bull
GoPro has comparable social media reach, as comapred to Red Bull. It has millions of followers on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. These platforms help to reinforce brand loyalty by getting users to sell and promote products to other users. Both Red Bull’s and GoPro’s target audience are not confined to the sports community alone, but it crosses over to several spheres of interests. GoPro dazzles its crowd with durability of products and the new angles that videos are taken form.
As of 2016, Red Bull and GoPro has formed a mega media house. They work together to products, distribute content that does cross-promotion and encourages product innovation. With GoPro as its exlusive provider of point-of-view imaging technology, content can be easily amplified on their social media channels. This amplifies their collective international reach.
Therefore, based on the extensive research done through evaluating the use of social media on the Red Bull Singapore accounts as well as interviewing the ambassadors in Singapore and evaluating their marketing strategy alongside GoPro, we have concluded that what Red Bull Singapore is in need of is to increase awareness and engagement of consumers on its social media accounts and at the same time, develop a brand community within Singapore.
An imagined community has the ability to bring people together and create a sense of belonging and pride among the people in the community. Thus, by developing a brand community within the Singaporean consumers, we are able to promote the Red Bull lifestyle and uphold the brand identity as youthful, fun and adventurous. This may take off well with the youth who are actively engaged on social media and if we develop Red Bull SG into a brand community, we are able to generate local hype around the brand and its target consumers.
Increase Social Media Activity on Red Bull Singapore Accounts
Currently, there is significantly lower activity on Red Bull Singapore’s social media accounts, as compared to the Global Red Bull accounts. Although the size of the target audience of Red Bull Singapore is smaller, there is a lower frequency of posts on the accounts. The current lack of activity on these social media accounts causes Red Bull to lose out on the engagement it may possibly have with its customers. Engagement translates into customers feeling more involvement and a greater association with the brand (Albert M. Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001). With increased activity, it will also increase awareness for the brand and its activities in Singapore.
Connecting Brand and Users
This would be done through creating a platform for creative exchange of ideas among consumers. According to the Psychological Ownership Theory, the ability and empowerment to contribute to the larger Red Bull community will give users a greater sense of ownership and loyalty to the brand (Pan & Crotts, 2012).
Our proposed plan revolves around the engagement of users by the Student Brand Managers (SBMs) ad Wing Team Members (WTMs) through the use of social media. This would require the creative exchange of ideas among the various players and users of the Red Bull community. According to the Psychological Ownership Theory, consumers feel validated by being heard and sharing their views in order to influence other people’s decisions or ideas (Pan & Crotts, 2012). With the shift to having more user generated content on Red Bull’s social media accounts, there will likely be a more personal brand image created too (Albert M. Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001).
Currently, most content on Red Bull pages are posted by the company and features strong influencers and professionals. Undoubtedly, this has helped the brand to raise awareness of itself and build its attractive brand image. However, to go a step further in this engagement, there could be opportunities for users to put up their own content as well. This will help to cultivate a brand community, where users can ride on one another’s innovations and ideas. With the opportunity to contribute to Red Bull’s community, users will fosters a greater sense of belonging and connection to the brand and other users in this community too (Albert M. Muniz & O’Guinn, 2001).
If it is not attractive enough for one to be associated with Red Bull, users also stand the chance of having their videos and images featured on Red Bull’s social media accounts. Having more than 45 million followers on Red Bull’s Facebook page alone, users can be assured that their creations will go further than before.
Red Bull TV
Tapping on the existing digital platform that showcases global events, lifestyle, sports and music entertainment, there would be an existing fanbase that will view the footages put up. When there are events organised or supported by Red Bull, SBMs and WTMs can be mobliized to shoot interesting footages of these events. An additional category for these videos could be created on the platform. With GoPro cameras, high quality videos can be taken anywhere and anytime. It will be fresh to see videos taken from a different perspective as compared to the usual perspective of current videos on Red Bull Television. This may potentially help the brand to appear to be more relatable to the crowd and customers
Red Bull YouTube
Red Bull has an existing YouTube channel that has over 5 million subscribers. This initiative could be carried out on this existing channel. Alternatively, if it may cause too much disruptions or clutter for the existing fanbase, a sub-channel could be created. Singaporean YouTube celebrities have gotten on the bandwagon of creating listicles and short drama series. Red Bull could ride on that trend and create hype for themselves through their very own online reality series. An additional advantage of having the online series posted on YouTube is that Red Bull will be able to better engage with viewers and get them to voice out what they want to see on their channel.
Red Bull recently organised an event called “Can You Make It 2016”. This was an exciting event where participants got to travel around Europe without their phone, cash or Internet. They were supposed to use Red Bull drinks as their currency. This event created hype among the young and adventurous crowd. Modelling after this successful initiative, there could be an adaptation of this challenge in the Singapore Context. More specifically, it could take place in Polytechnics, Junior Colleges or Universities too. This could be part of an online series that features participants completing various tasks.
Other than the main event, short and impactful videos and listicles could be done by SBMs and WTMs. These videos would contain content that is related to the life of a typical or ideal university student with an interesting twist.
Clutter Existing Social Media Channels
Red Bull’s social ecosystem is made up of specialized social media channels that appeal to the adrenaline junkies. As most videos and photos are made by professionals, the shift towards greater user generated content may cause a fluctuation or decrease in qualities of videos. Furthermore, there is little guarantee that consumers will put up relevant photos or videos.
However, there could be a filter system put in place, where photos and videos are vetted through before it is published on the official Red Bull Pages. This will ensure that irrelevant media will not clutter the social media channels.
Additional Workload For SBMs And WTMs
The initial hype that is created on the Red Bull Singapore Channels will have to be sparked off by SBMs and WTMs. This is to encourage the users to generate content on their own. These SBMs and WTMs have to be more proactive in sharing this initiative to other users.
Even though the start may be more taxing on SBMs and WTMs, once users have gotten used to interacting in the Red Bull community, the workload of the SBMs and WTMs will be back to normal. If necessary and able, Red Bull Singapore could consider reimbursing the managers with money, based on their level of engagement.
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