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Ben and Jerry’s Social Media Strategy

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I’ve written this quick analysis about Ben and Jerry’s for my Advanced Social Media class in my Digital Marketing Masters. I’ve chosen this brand because I considere myself an advocate, I really didn’t know ice cream could taste that good before I tried B&Js. Simply ♥ the brand.

Ben and Jerry’s is a global ice cream brand, originally from Vermont, United States. The brand has build different communities around each country, especially because of language, cultural and distribution issues. I’ve analyzed their UK community, where their main platforms are Facebook, Twitter and their UK website.

Global UK
Facebook Fans – 3m Facebook Fans – 200k
Twitter Followers – 10k Twitter Followers – 4k

Interesting to notice that although the regional community has a smaller number of followers, it generates more interaction compared to the global. I believe people are more interested in joining a group where deals are more targeted and members are from the same region. This way there’s more room for conversation.

Fair Trade – Overall Theme

Ben and Jerry’s is currently running a campaign about Fair Trade. At first, by the way they are advertising it, it seems that the campaign is about bringing new flavors from the US to Europe. With a bit of investigation, we can figure out that Fairtrade is actually a foundation that the brand supports. According to the website, Ben and Jerry’s “will be going 100% Fairtrade in the UK and throughout Europe by the end of 2011 and globally by end 2013 – which means that every ingredient they use, from sugar to nuts to cocoa, that can be Fairtrade certified, will be.”

They could have done a better job trying to make this more clear to the customers, since it represents the kind of brand Ben and Jerry’s is in a very positive way. Interestingly, Ben and Jerry’s decided to use Fairtrade as a theme for various campaigns in Social Media, which seems to be working very well.

Unfairly Desserted Flavors Facebook App

  • Goal: Vote in the new flavour for the UK
  • Best interaction bit: Flavour personality test
  • Best aspects: Fun, engaging, sharable and informative

First, the cuteness of the app is great. The brand has a very distinct style and this is well represented in the app. The attention to detail is great and the layout is very easy on the eyes. The app opens with an introduction explaining (in a fun way!) that some flavours from the US have never arrived in the UK, and now its up to the users to decide which flavour is going to make it.

The users should vote in their favourite flavour. In case he has any doubts, since all of them look yummy, he can choose to take the personality test. This is a very fun test (I almost forgot to take screen shots, because I was really enjoying it). There are five very simple, and again, fun questions to be answered. At the end, the ‘Doctor Cow’ shows the user what flavour suits best his personality. The user can easily share the flavour with his Facebook or Twitter friends.

Fairtrade Arcade Facebook App

  • Goal: Play games and have fun
  • Best aspects: Fun, wide audience reach, interactive

The user has five game options. Some of them are inspired in well known arcade games, which makes it easier for the user to interact and start playing. All games are easy and fun, attracting a very wide audience. Again here they don’t forget to add the social bit by allowing users to share their game results on Facebook and Twitter. Even though the app is not about the ice cream itself, everything is very well branded. Several bits are inspired in the brand’s main characteristics such as – fudge brownie, nuts, and milk.

Fair Tweets Campaign

  • Goal: Promote the World Fair Trade Day
  • Best aspects: Supports a good cause, easy to spread, creative

Ben and Jerry’s launched Fair Tweets to celebrate the World Fair Trade Day, which happened on May 14th. By entering in the campaign’s website or using its browser extension, the user could tweet as he normally would and the application would use the characters left to promote the fair trade day, together with a link to an article about the fair trade movement. In this campaign Ben and Jerry’s didn’t promote the brand as much, except for a few details highlighting the logo and a link back to its website. The campaign has its own Twitter account, and even though the day has passed, the application is still running and people continue to tweet about it.

SWOT Analysis


  • Brand is seen as informal and fun which helps with their social media presence, making it a natural environment for the brand
  • Global brand, higher reach
  • The community is segmented by country, which allows for easy content targeting and meaningful conversations

  • It relies on third party platforms
  • The country segmented community should be better advertised in the main page, so customers understand which page they should like in order to receive more valuable content
  • It might be seen as a childish brand, diminishing the brands reach

  • Customers tend to be brand advocates
  • Brand could invest more in brand awareness
  • Promote more in Social Media the Fairtrade Foundation, so the brand can be instantly perceived as ethical
  • Give a better reason for customers to interact with the brand (aka: prizes)

  • Change of seasons can increase/decrease the amount of participation in the community
  • Malicious users can get in the middle and ruin the positive community’s atmosphere
  • Other game apps on Facebook could steal potencial users from the Arcade Game app


Ben and Jerry’s is definitely a successful story with lots of good cases to tell. They are doing an excellent job by interacting with their customers in a fun and innovative way.  It was very smart to create an overall theme around fair trade, which is a global cause that says a lot about the brand’s values and quality. It also helps to connect each separate campaign and channel, giving almost like a narrative feeling to the customer’s journey through the campaigns.

The customers’ response has been very positive, and there’s been a lot of engagement with the brand. Most of the campaigns are aimed at brand loyalty and they do the job by either empowering the customer or engaging him with the brand’s content. Even though the campaigns have a lot of social sharing features, they should go beyond and focus more in brand awareness in order to acquire new customers and followers.


Written by Cristina Dresch

June 2, 2011 at 11:16 PM

Posted in Social, Strategy

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