The Ice Cold Truth

Ben and Jerry’s, the iconic ice cream manufacturer, has decided to discontinue their email marketing programs in favour of their already well established social media channels on FaceBook and Twitter.

This seems to have come as something of a surprise to marketers around the world given the traction, effort and commitment marketing has made in developing email campaign structures and protocols. Ben and Jerry’s are the first major corporation to actively disconnect email marketing from social media and plough the single furrow.

Brian Whalley on the Hubspot blog notes that the US ice cream manufacturer has 1.3 million fans on Facebook  and also communicates through a number of flavour specific Twitter profiles, all of which have an extensive following. He points out that social media campaigns on the scale that Ben and Jerry’s will operate could provide a significant cost saving for the company over email marketing. That’s without the engagement and connection opportunities that fans and followers create in this increasingly connected and ‘Like’ focused world of ours.

The logic seems clear and the metrics speak for themselves. More importantly, their own subscribed customers have indicated they don’t like the monthly email but love the Ben & Jerry’s brand. Who doesn’t …. Apart from the NHS, possibly.

There are big lessons here for IT leaders who still dispute the importance of social media in modern business. It is here to stay and will only intensify in importance over time …. a very short time … as we all increasingly interact with services and environments like LinkedIn,Twitter and Facebook. Thats just at the very simplest level of engagement and without even attempting to drill down into the connection opportunities that emerge almost daily.

We shouldn’t just be blocking social media because we can but instead we should be actively finding ways to encourage its use for business benefit and in partnership with the business who, themselves, need to understand that ‘it’ll never catch on’ just doesn’t cut it anymore. It has caught on and its not going away. Take a look around you. And if you don’t believe me, ask your family.

Its about brand building, brand manifestation and being where your customers are through finding new and better ways to service them and consciously engage with them. Ben and Jerry’s brand has built a community of customers around their products and they continue to grow and benefit from it. Its not about whether or not you make ice cream, but it is about customers and we all want more of those.

Seems to me to be a perfect time to lead by example.