Will A Mascot Help Your Social Media? (Probably)

Brands, brands, brands….what’s your brand? Whether you’re in the beginning, intermediate, or advanced stages of your social media strategies, developing and nurturing your brand has to be at the forefront of your mission. Why? Because people love to love. When it comes to branding, your job is to give your company it’s own version of personality so there is a little more there for people to connect with. You want your brand to become a character, so to speak, in your customers’ lives. And that, our friends, is how a mascot can boost your social media campaign to the next level.

IMAGE: Global Vision

Once you add a mascot to your brand, you have just provided another anchor in your customers’ brains  (and hearts!) as to who you are and how you can be remembered. Mascots are such a large part of the branding component that you may have forgotten all about them. Consider Wheaties without the athlete on the box, Snuggle without the fluffy bear, or Aflac without the duck; it’s hard to separate them, isn’t it?

Are mascots really that important in social media branding?

In fact, mascots are such an integral part of major company’s brands that they can easily be ranked in order of popularity based on the repetition of their names in tweets. In order to get an idea of just how important mascots were to a brand, that’s exactly what Synthesio did. Over a 30-day period, they took the number of tweets that included both the brand name and a mention of the endorsing celebrity (or mascot!) and divided it by the number of total tweets mentioning the brand. The resulting percentages give us an indication of the social buzz generated by the mascot her/himself.

While celebrities can create quite a buzz, it’s the mascots that really seem to pack the branding punch in Twitter. Consider the following list in order of popularity:

  1. Pillsbury Doughboy – 22.14%
  2. Danika Patrick (GoDaddy) – 12.72%
  3. Duck (Aflac) – 11.82%
  4. Flo (Progressive Auto Insurance) – 6.85%
  5. Gecko (Geico) – 6.15%
  6. Rihanna (Covergirl) – 3.19%

Hm. So what does this say to you as a business marketer? It says there’s no need to budget for a celebrity mascot because the fake people, animals, and personified lumps of dough seem to do just fine.

How should our company use a mascot to develop our brand?

This, then, is the million dollar question. If you evaluate the brands listed above, you will see there are some general trends. Here’s how you can work to suss out the inherent Mascot in your brand:

Company Name. Does your company name lend itself to anything obvious? We have a sneaking suspicion that the Geico Gecko is no coincidence. If your company name rhymes, or forms a fantastic alliteration with, an inanimate object (such as the DropBox box or the Android Robot) or animal that can be personified then that might be the ticket.

Product or Service. Obviously, Mascot Number 1, the Pillsbury Doughboy, wasn’t hard to conjure up. Mama’s have been personifying baked goods for years. We always wondered a bit about eating Pillsbury Products – seemed a bit cannibalistic – but hey! With a 22.14% social buzz rating after all these years, who are we to judge?

Sales Persona. Let’s take a moment to honor Flo. Do you remember when you saw the first Progressive Auto Insurance commercial, starring Flo? It didn’t necessarily move you. Then, they made another, and another, and pretty soon, we all wanted to hang out with quirky, average-good-looking, funny Flo. What other agent could give you the help she could? Good work, Progressive! Perhaps you can invent a sales persona of your own to start making his/her way into the minds of your followers.

Logo. Maybe your logo already involves a mascot of some kind, be it animate or inanimate. You can begin to generate blogs, tweets, videos, etc. that will get your mascot out there and winning the hearts of present and future customers. Make them laugh, say, “aaaaaaw, cute!”, or whatever, and keep at it so the mascot and you become interchangeable.

If you have the money to buy a celebrity endorsement, awesome (and you probably don’t even need to read this, really…), otherwise, take heart in the aforementioned statistics. As Synthesio CEO and co-founder, Loic Moisand, said, “In traditional marketing, celebrity endorsements are extremely valuable, but for social media purposes, they don’t appear to be. Our research seems to confirm that mascots are the way to go online: they are popular, have no competing agendas and they work for free.” Fabulous! Who doesn’t love free advertising.

Does your company currently use a mascot as a component of brand development? Do you feel like your mascot is working? We’d love to hear your thoughts or stories, so please leave us a comment.

Published June 17, 2013 by David Kaufer.
Categories: Branding, Social Media