What Ben & Jerry’s teach us on start up social media strategies

Recently, I read an article on start up social media strategies. You’ve probably read one too. The basic reasons given, it being cheaper, easier and on trend. The day before that, I read an article talking about social media being utterly useless for the start up brand. Start ups haven’t got the big advertising budget, the social media arena is far too noisy to be heard and consumers aren’t interested in what the ‘smaller, yet to be known business’ has to say. Start ups should focus on email marketing. Urm, makes sense I suppose. BUT, terribly limiting if you are building an online brand.

The idea of building an online brand is easier that the reality. Whilst you figure out how to run the business and what works for it online, can leave you with very little time and money to manage the social media side. On top of that, platforms like the ‘one time easy to market on Facebook’, are giving smaller brands a tough time. You’ve now got reduced reach and Facebook users have become bored with promoted posts. Facebook users will ignore you or just plain ‘unlike’ you faster that you can say it. It also costs a bit to get your posts seen. And that’s just  a couple of reasons you might be finding start up social media strategies hard to get right.

Ben and Jerry’s the loveable and delicious ice cream brand started out in 1987, small, in a gas station and in Vermont. And now last weekend, you or someone you know, had some effervescently named Ben and Jerry’s ice cream whilst watching a film  that evening. They grew because they were social offline. They connected with people through their ice creams. They shared the free love and peace personalities of the founders through the causes they supported. They shared the core brand values through the names they gave the ice creams. We’ve grown to know and love them before their message was translated online.

When they did go online in 1995, they were still personable, inviting hundreds and thousands of visitors to have ‘virtual licks & voluminous laughs’. They maintained a strong and fun personality. Whether on or offline, they had a clear strategy, a strong purpose and a distinct personality. With or without social media, get these things right and you can build a successful brand. but let’snot sit on the fence here, if you are an online brand, you need social media. You don’t even need to have huge amounts of money to spend on advertising.

Consumers are more trusting and loyal when they know and understand what your brand stands for. They’ll stick by you in and through the bitter times. They’ll be there to celebrate the sweet successes.  Having a strong defined brand strategy. That and turning fans into loyal long term customers should be your focus.  You can’t survive long term wanting to merely sell to shoppers. You need to develop a brand and a community that people enjoy belonging to.

How have you found building an online brand through social media? What have you found works for you? What parts of your plan will you  be ditching?

Blog Comments

Building a brand through social media absolutely works for some while it is not so effective for other types of business. For me personally it is an absolute must. I think the key is to really understand your objectives and have a strategy for online vs. off-line. Good food for thought!

Social media can be a great way to build a brand if it is done correctly. It does take time and diligence. Sometimes, people want to to just set up their social media channel and watch their business grow. I have to tell my clients that it is not that easy. It requires building relationships, creating a reputation as an authority and the ability to tell your story.

Thanks for sharing this thought provoking piece.
Social media is simply a platform for engagement and connection and it should fit into a holistic marketing strategy to work for any business, big or small.


There is a really a lot good tips and tricks about social media marketing. Kepp going with blogging!

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