Vodafone is experimenting with Snapchat to drum up interest in its brand and mobile plans during orientation weeks at Canterbury and Otago University, while BNZ is putting a friendly face to its YouMoney offering by sending staff on a road trip to campuses that's documented on social media.
Vodafone saw social messaging application Snapchat, which lets users send photos, video and captions that only last 24 hours, as a way to have a stronger presence than the temporary stand that companies usually occupy on campuses. It was also a targeted way to trial the platform and assess the results for future use, says social media head Mike Wilson.
"We want to engage with students and the opportunity at both campuses there is quite limited. We started discussing what offers and plans are relevant to the students. We said, 'we need to do something that gets awareness up of what we're doing and getting them back into the makeshift stall'."
Vodafone took to its social channels to ask fans to add the company on Snapchat and built its following from 48 to 400 users in a week, says Wilson.
The telco used the application to send snaps to those who added the company, assigning them a task and revealing the location of a lycra-suited 'morph man' carrying helium balloons with prizes in them.
The prizes included high end and basic smartphones and speakers, which could be redeemed at Vodafone's campus pop up store. Vodafone contacted Snapchat in the US to investigate options for companies to use it promotionally, Wilson says.
It's not the first Kiwi company to use the messaging platform for marketing. Last year Skinny Mobile tested Snapchat to give away mobile credit, in a campaign with Auckland agency Young and Shand. That agency was also behind TVNZ's efforts that used the dating app Tinder to target fans of The Walking Dead.
Meanwhile, BNZ dispatched two staff on a road trip to university campuses for orientation week to promote its YouMoney online banking system,
The initiative is a new approach to the traditional promotion banks do on campus during student orientation weeks and the academic year — and is part of the bank's drive to personalise its use of social channels with the help of company personnel.
"All banks have a presence on campus and the key product we're talking about is YouMoney," says social media manager Anna Connell. "We decided this year, because YouMoney is a product our staff love and don't have difficulty talking about, rather than going with an anonymous events manager or someone like that, we'd go out to our staff and put them on the road for three weeks."
"They're definitely not flogging a product," Connell says. "We're hoping people who follow them will see them on campus and may be recognise them a bit."
BNZ wants to equip staff with the tools to use social media for the company rather than just themselves, she says, adding these upskilling efforts began during Closed for Good last year, where staff are given a day off for volunteer work.
"There will always be a role for official bank social media presences, we use Twitter as a customer service channel. But teaching staff how to use it like this is quite light touch and we're keen on teaching people how to use it professionally. They all do it personally," says Connell.
"There's increasingly a personal and professional blur on social and teaching people to manage that is something we're keen on doing."
YouMoney is targeted at a youth demographic, with university students a key part of the audience, Connell says.
Using Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr will allow BNZ to target this niche audience, Connell says, adding the bank hasn't used Tumblr until now. "That's an interesting thing for brands that [social media is] becoming increasingly fragmented."
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