Ciao Case Study

It’s official: Cat people are the best people. At least that’s how it looks to a social media marketer. We’ve been working within the pet industry for YEARS, and it’s no surprise to anyone at Matrix Partners how much people love their furchildren. We have entire Facebook albums and Instagram pages devoted to our pets, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. What is surprising, though, is the level of response we see from self-proclaimed cat people versus dog people when it comes to social media campaigns. Case in point: Our new client Ciao Cat Treats is an international sensation that just landed stateside. They’re one of the most popular treats in Japan, where cats are a big part of the culture, so we knew the treat was a winner before we ever hosted a taste-test with our kitties. Once we took samples home, we had no choice but to add more images and videos to our albums – cats love these treats so much that it’s impossible not to have photographic evidence. We started three social media pages for Ciao – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not to give away trade secrets, but the majority of their (moderate) monthly ad spend was focused on Facebook – better return on investment, and you can choose to advertise on Instagram using the same ad campaign and creative. Yay for the Facebook/Instagram partnership! For the purposes of this conversation, let’s keep Facebook at the forefront; the other platforms have done well, but organic growth isn’t so much a strategy as it is a happy side effect of having an awesome product. We did have a decent ad budget, and we focused on building an audience first with like ads and gradually increased engagement spend once there were eyes on the page. After the first month, we backed off of the like ads to focus on website clicks (we also created their American brand website) and engagement with the adorable content we were finding and creating for the page. The hard data (Facebook): We started the page on January 21 of this year; by January 31, we had more than 8,600 fans on the page. Currently (as of posting), we have more than 54,400 fans. Reminder: we backed off of the like ads, yet the page is still growing rapidly every day. Another fun twist – the product wasn’t even available in stores or online when we started social marketing. You may be asking, “Why even bother until the consumer can purchase?” And you’d be a smart cookie. But we thought this out – Facebook and other social platforms aren’t just about selling a product. We were also building a community. And in some cases, distributors look at your communities to determine what kind of popularity the product will bring to the retailers they serve. This isn’t a surefire method to land distributors, but it certainly helps to throw the numbers around when you’re in the final leg of negotiations for a client that has limited availability in the US. Back to the community: Business logistics aside, we’re starting conversations. We have enough samples to host giveaways, and we have all of the branding (because we created it), allowing us to paint a picture of the company and successfully portray a brand voice. Essentially, we’re building excitement and recognition up front, allowing for a much quicker customer conversion when they see the treats in stores. But that still doesn’t explain the rapid growth and popularity. Think about it – studies say that cat people take 4-5 photos of their pet per day and that searching a cat owner’s phone will yield more kitties than selfies. Celebrities like Taylor Swift have made being a cat lady into the new black, and the boom in “adopt, don’t shop” campaigns has made it clear that there are plenty of animals out there that would love to be your Grumpy Cat or Lil Bub. Even further, the age group most likely to own pets – millennials – is the same group that relies on social media and also prefers a low maintenance animal like a cat over something more involved like a puppy. When you add all of those elements together, you have a recipe for a smashing social presence and unparalleled ad success. To be fair, many of the fans on Ciao’s Facebook page are above the millennial age bracket, but Facebook tends to serve a larger population than other social platforms. These fans not only love their own kitties, they adore seeing other cats online. We post images (some sourced, some animated) of cats and receive hundreds of responses from people who are just stoked to see another cat in their newsfeed. Even better, they share pictures of their adorable cats on the page; sometimes, we ask for that user-submitted content, but most of the time, they’re just proud of their furbaby. All of our pet pages do well because pets aren’t just furry foodies; they’re an extension of the family unit. Luxury extends beyond the human experience as far as we’re concerned, and millions of pet owners agree. But no matter how well other pages do, our cat clients continue to blow previous records out of the water – be it in rapid page growth, monthly engagement numbers, or largest concentration of sleeping cat photos. We know one thing for sure – if marketing doesn’t work out, cat treat stocks are always a solid back-up plan.