Digital, Sports Marketing | Dec 17, 2014
Social Services

With 13.5 million Facebook likes and 966,000 Twitter followers, Puma is one of the leading sportswear brands on social media. Social media was central to its recent Forever Faster campaign, headed by ambassador Usain Bolt, and the German brand’s new kit supplier deal with English Premier League club Arsenal has been a key source of content for its digital output.

As a performance and sports brand, our target audience is aged between 16 and 25. Social media is where they consume and interact with brands, so our main aim is to connect with our target audience. The objective is pretty simple.

We’re Puma the brand, but we also have a lot of fantastic athletes as brand ambassadors who all have a huge presence on social networks, so this is another outlet for us to interact with our consumers.

It would take one month for my daughter to reply to an e-mail, but if you tweet or Snapchat her, she’d reply within a second. Social media is where conversations happen.

Our key social media platforms are YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, and that’s where we invest most of our time. But there is literally a new platform every day we could use, so our role is to balance our short-term strategy with the long-term. Should we jump on every platform or not?

In terms of reach, we localise our content so we can engage with consumers in China, for example, who don’t have access to the likes of YouTube and Facebook. If we want to reach that huge market, we have to use ‘local’ social media platforms.

Other than that, the content we produce is complemented by a YouTube video – that platform is the centrepiece of whatever we do. I also prefer Twitter to Facebook, because it’s key for live sports. Even though Twitter has less reach than Facebook, Facebook is a closed environment where you can’t really have conversations with your consumers. Twitter, by contrast, is heavily conversational by its nature.

We have become much more professional in measuring the success of our social media strategy in the last couple of years. We have hired agencies to analyse the effectiveness of our content, and we also ask platforms like Facebook and Twitter to send us very detailed statistics. It’s fairly sophisticated now, and we determine our KPIs based on this information. With our Forever Faster campaign that we launched in August, our main objective was to better engage with our brand ambassadors, and looking at the analytics, we have seen an increase in interaction with these athletes by 100 per cent.

Whether we’ve made a direct financial return through our social media activities is very subjective but if I’m honest, I would say no. We see a lot of traffic on our platforms, but we certainly don’t see a direct return on the investment from social media at this stage.

We experiment, run pilots, and see platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter as shopping destinations rather than traffic drivers. However, we are still at the beginning of our strategy.

Investing in social media is the same as financing traditional marketing. It’s also more powerful in terms of engagement. If you look at the huge volume of sports content on social media, you don’t have to justify investing in this area anymore.

Most of the platforms were initially created for people and not brands, but over the past few years, social media platforms have innovated and become more professional.

A challenge is the constant evolution of social media – we have to resist some trends and think of the bigger picture. What also raises a lot of questions is how to localise content in terms of the language used, and what platforms reach the most consumers in different markets. The dynamic between global and local is very difficult.

by Remi Carlioz, Global Head of Consumer Marketing, Puma

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