8 Social Media Treasures We Learned from Old Spice

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If you have been alive for the past few days and have come anywhere near anything that resembles the internet, you probably heard about the latest online campaign by Old Spice. It is being called by many the best use of social media ever, and Google’s CFO even called it “The future of marketing”. If you somehow did not hear about the brilliant campaign, let me sum it up for you.

Isaiah Mustafa, AKA, “The Old Spice Guy” had a commercial, which you can see below, that became an instant hit. The company then released yet another commercial, which took off immediately as well. Then came the brilliance.

They took the campaign to the interwebs and opened an OldSpice Twitter account, in which Mr. Old Spice responded to people’s questions/comments on Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube with a personalized and always hysterical Youtube video. The responses were always prompt, always funny, and never ever promotional (at least not in the traditional sense of the word).

With the growing number of spammers on social media combined with the millions who have no idea how to maximize its potential, I thought I would list some things that the Old Spice guy taught us all about how to use social media. So here goes:

  1. Originality: Twitter and social media in general is a hot trend. Everyone is doing it and to succeed, you need to think out of the box. What Old Spice did, noone has ever done before, but I’m sure many will do after (the spoofs are already starting). Every single video Old Spice made was original, engaging, and just awesome. It’s OK to follow the flock when it comes to trends, but in order to make it in this game, you are going to have to do something different. Take the leap, you won’t regret it.
  2. Dont talk, Just Do: Did you hear the Old Spice guy call himself a Social Media Guru in any of his videos? I didn’t! How about an Online Marketing Expert? No? Yea, me neither. He did not even mention the words social media throughout this campaign, yet he utilized social media like it has never been utilized before. We, and when I say we I mean all you morons who think having “Guru”, “Expert”, or “Specialist” in your Twitter bio impresses anyone,  need to stop giving it a title and talking about the tool. We need to realize that Twitter is a means to an end. Whatever that end is for you is what you should be focusing on and not how many followers you have or how many times you were retweeted today. There, I said it!
  3. Be Human: One of the main reasons this campaign was such a success, is because the Old Spice guy was accessible. People, at least the lucky ones, knew they could write to him and actually get a response out of him despite his new found fame and celebrity status. This is extremely important, and while some people do not spend the time answering their Twitter replies, the more successful people on Twitter, the ones that truly get it, they answer almost all their replies. This brings me back to the main point here, social media is just a fancy way of saying online communication. It is a new age way of carrying out a dialog.  Yes, it has widespread exposure and huge potential for promoting your product, but it all starts with engagement. If you are not talking to your followers, and you are not CNN or Barack Obama, you will eventually see the results in the form of less people talking to you or in some cases actually stopping to follow you.
  4. Mix it up: It is no secret that to succeed online, you need eyeballs on your site/product/service. What better way to get those eyeballs then to get an Alyssa Milano, Kevin Rose, or Chrstina Applegate to promote it? However, you will notice that for every celebrity Old Spice dude responded to, he replied to at least two or three “regular” people. This is an absolute must. If you have been on Twitter, you have probably seen those people who are constantly writing to Kutcher, Shaq, or any other celebrity, and they do not take the time to write to just regular folk. This won’t work for many reasons, but mainly because a person like that is missing the point. They are not contributing anything to their followers, they are essentially spamming celebrities, and they will never see the results they are hoping for.
  5. Don’t be Obvious: One of the reasons this campaign took off the way it did is because people couldn’t wait to see what was next. I saw at least two highly influential people in my stream saying they found themselves on the Old Spice Youtube channel just refreshing the page to see if there was another video. Each video was unique, intelligent, and provided some real entertainment for the viewer, which brings me to my next point, humor.
  6. Humor: Humor sells, people! People like to laugh and that is another reason this campaign did what it did. This dude was hilarious. Now, if I am on the topic of humor, let me say that I follow quite a few comedians on Twitter and with all the tech geeky stuff in my stream, these guys really lighten up the mood. If you are a marketing professional, I don’t need to tell you to use humor in your campaigns, but Old Spice has taught us once again that we need to stop taking Twitter so seriously. We need to stop treating it like it’s rocket science and just be ourselves.
  7. Don’t Sell, Conversions Will Come: This point is absolutely crucial. Did you hear Mr. Old Spice trying to actively sell you his product? Besides a few “You can smell like me if you use Old Spice” jokes, 99% of the video content he posted was completely not connected to Old Spice. Yes, the product was always in the background (figuratively speaking) but he almost never brought it out to the forefront. People, you should know this by now, but just in case, Twitter is great to promote and sell, but do it wisely. Do not try to hard sell your product on social media and do not spam your followers. Dell does a great job selling on social media by offering exclusive bonuses, and Old Spice set the bar with this new campaign. I am not sure if anyone analyzed their sales yet, it might be a little early for that, but I would definitely buy some Old Spice stock right about now if I were you.
  8. Real Strategy: Old Spice announced yesterday (in a video of course) that the campaign was officially over. This was of course disappointing to all of us fans who were enjoying the videos, but on the other hand, it showed that there was a real strategy in place. He could have gone on for days without losing any of our interest, but they decided in advance just how long the campaign would run and when that time came, they pulled the plug. Did that cause them damage? Absolutely not! It showed structure and organization. That is the way to promote your product using social media.

In conclusion, the Old Spice campaign will probably be talked about in companies around the world for a long time to come. It will be a hot topic on social media well into the coming weeks and months, which basically means that Old Spice has accomplished its goal, and then some. I am very interested to see what the 6 million YouTube views, the 70,ooo Twitter followers, and the 22,500 comments will translate into when it comes to sales, but I don’t think there will be any surprises there… Most important though? They accomplished all this without calling themselves a “Social Media Guru”, using a provocative avatar of Britney Spears, and even replied to people with less than 100 followers.

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Hillel Fuld is a global speaker, entrepreneur, journalist, vlogger, and leading startup advisor. He brings over a decade of marketing experience with leading Israeli and Silicon Valley startups, and currently collaborates with many global brands in an official marketing capacity including Google, Oracle, Microsoft, Huawei, and others.      Hillel covers the dynamic local tech scene for many leading publications including Entrepreneur magazine, Inc, TechCrunch, Mashable, The Next Web, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Venturebeat, and others. Additionally, Hillel mentors startups across Israel in different accelerators including The Google Launchpad, the Microsoft Ventures accelerator, Techstars, The Junction, and more.    Hillel has been named Israel’s top marketer, 7th top tech blogger worldwide, has been featured on CNBC, Inc, and was dubbed by Forbes as “The Man Transforming Startup Nation into Scale-up Nation”.       Hillel has hundreds of thousands of followers across the social web and can be found on Twitter at @Hilzfuld. You can learn more about him on his website: www.hilzfuld.com


24 thoughts on “8 Social Media Treasures We Learned from Old Spice

  1. Awesome post Hillel! Revisiting the awesomeness of this campaign and outlining the reasons we love it and will soon be loving Old Spice again as a brand! I actually have that cute little whistling song in my head from back in the day….yeah, I’m THAT old 🙂 (but I still have spice – oh hell that was corny…) lol Great write and read. Thank you for this – I am forwarding it to my business-owner sis who is just starting to appreciate the wonderful, dynamic and powerful potential of social media. Cheers! Gina

  2. Hillel, the only thing you left out is that the Old Spice twitter account only had several thousand followers when this whole thing started. Now that it has 70k+ followers, if they were to pull this stunt again in a short while, just think how much MORE viral it could be!

  3. Hillel, bringing the fury with another solid post.
    If I had to summarize this post or what the campaign was all about it was “caring” the folks at Old Spice cared enough about the people they were talking to and interacting with to turn that care into success…

    The downside? We’ll now be faced with an endless barrage of imitators and spoof videos for months and months to come 😉

  4. I was late to watching these, but found them mesmerizing, a brilliantly executed campaign from start to finish, and like you so no mention of social media expert anywhere!

  5. Excellent post! You hit on specific reasons why the campaign was successful. I found the copywriting on all the videos to be hilarious.

    Many people I’ve talked to gripe about ROI or say “but how many units of Old Spice did this really sell?” To that I would respond it doesn’t matter. Old Spice is now top of mind for anyone paying attention to social media these days. The buzz around the brand and its place in the zeitgeist are secure. Is that’s enough to sustain the company? Well they certainly weren’t losing money before this campaign! And I don’t think anyone is going to stop using the product because of it, so it looks like a win to me.

  6. It seems to me that there is an *obvious* ninth lesson to be learned, and it is related directly to the timing of the campaign’s end: the end came on the morning after Alyssa Milano’s “challenge” video, in which she calls on Old Spice / Proctor & Gamble to donate $100,000 to the Gulf recovery effort. Ms. Milano is known for her philanthropic efforts, as well as for her use of Twitter is those efforts…and once Old Spice engaged her in conversation, something was bound to happen. Thus, lesson no. 9: be prepared.

  7. Very well summarized! I enjoyed this campaign immensely. It warmed the cockles of my advertising school heart.

  8. Great post! Everything about the campaign was amazing. The same day, Old Spice bought a promoted trending topic on Twitter, which was an incredibly smart thing to do. The people at W & K were really thinking. The only other thing they could have done would be to put the deodorant on sale and had displays up in the major retail stores (which they could have done, I just haven’t been to a store in a while).

    This is a campaign that is probably going to be talked about as the moment when the population learned how social media could be leveraged. This is an entirely new level of engagement with the consumer, and I expect to see quite a few copycats in the near future.

    And you’re right, it was hilarious! That brand of humor connects with today’s internet user; that over-the-top, knowingly ridiculous humor is very valued by my generation.

    Tom Miesen

  9. First off, this is a great summary of a wonderful campaign. I enjoyed it enormously and hope that this truly is the future of marketing. I blogged about this back when it first came out (http://bit.ly/91nCvK) and have only come to love it more.

    However, the real measure here is if this campaign ignites the brand and ultimately sells the product. I know that sounds crass, but it’s what it’s all about. As trusting as Old Spice has been and as well as W+K has executed it, this is all just fascinating pop culture talk if it does not sell. And I truly hope it does.

    Thanks, Hillel.

  10. I found the techie conversations on reddit around the setting up of the old Spice messaging service particularly interesting. This beyond the fact that advertisers and agencies making way for social media experts to get more engagement out of their work.
    Voice mail piece part of the campaign built by crowd genius: http://oldspicevoicemail.com/

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