With well-represented brands like Axe, Dove, and Ben and Jerry’s, each of which has a strong online following, Unilever has proven itself to be a social media veteran. With so many strong sub-brands residing under the Unilever umbrella, a certain level of consistency and organization is necessary to maintain order, eliminate waste, and create a cohesive vision. Unilever uses social media for a variety of purposes across the entire organization to support several important functions.
Customer Co-Creation (R&D)
Very early on in the age of social medias, Unilever recognized the power and importance of consumers, and how they have increasingly strong voice with respect to what they want and how important certain product elements may be to them. (NMA Staff, 2010) Many companies have begun to replace traditional broadcast mediums (T.V., radio, print, etc.) with social media platforms; however, the transition has not completely transformed the media content, and social media has overwhelmingly become a new platform for broadcasting advertisements to the masses. Instead of broadcasting, Unilever seeks out online communities, such as HeadBox, which allows companies to include their customers in their marketing process and use their target market as an extension of their own marketing department. (Bowser, 2007) To Unilever, it is important that social medias are more than just a one-way stream of information, but are a platform for dialogue between their organization and its customers.
Unilever’s recruitment activities take place in a number of mediums, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, on their own corporate website, and even Twitter. (Sundberg, n.d.) By reaching out through a variety of platforms, Unilever has better access to candidates from all demographics and with a diversity of backgrounds. Unilever is one of the most followed companies on LinkedIn , with a large number of their employees acting as ambassadors of the organization on the platform. (Sundberg, n.d.) There is also a significant amount of consistency between the information, organization, and design of the recruitment pages on each social media platform, which contributes to a more clear illustration of the brand and its sub-brands.
Sales Impact (Marketing and Operations)
Historically, the sales impact of social media efforts has been widely debated, but Unilever’s marketing team has done their research and has been able to prove that, when done right, the data collected from social media activities can teach the organization a lot about their customers, which can ultimately be translated into improved sales performance. Furthermore, when using this collected information, focused advertisements can increase the likelihood that a view or exposure will lead to a sale, proving that social media investments can reduce waste through improved targeting. (Neff, 2015)
Lessons for Others
Whether or not a functional area of a business is involved in marketing, branding, media, sales, hiring, supply chain management and integration, or anything in between, social media is often being employed throughout the entire organization. From traditional media like email, to complete enterprise resource planning systems, internal communications take place between several functional areas of a business, as well as between said functional areas and the company’s customers and other stakeholders.
With so much data, and so many chains of communication, a plan is very important when implementing and participating in enterprise social media programs. Unilever does an excellent job of maintaining consistency of design and vision between each of its medias, and between each functional area that employs these social medias. When a plan is in place, there is much less wasteful overlap and disorganization, resulting in a well-oiled and efficient social media machine that can spend fewer resources duplicating and researching data, and instead can create greater value for their customers, employees, and stakeholders through social enterprises.
Industry: Consumer Packaged Goods
Name of Organization Contact: N/A
Authored by: Lucas R. Coady
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.
- NMA Staff. (February 25, 2010). Cover story: Unilever to use social media to aid product development. Econsultancy.com. Retrieved from https://econsultancy.com/nma-archive/45223-cover-story-unilever-to-use-social-media-to-aid-product-development
- Bowser, Jacquie. (June 4, 2007). Face launches youth research community Headbox. Campaign. Retrieved from https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/face-launches-youth-research-community-headbox/661646
- Sundberg, Jorgen. (n.d.) How Unilever uses social media to recruit. Link Humans. Retrieved from https://linkhumans.com/blog/unilever
- Neff, Jack. (September 18, 2015). Unilever finds social-media buzz really does drive sales. AdAge. Retrieved from http://adage.com/article/digital/unilever-social-media-buzz-drive-sales/300426/