How to approach communication on social media in the midst of a pandemic? Growww Digital came up with an unconventional approach that helped Kifli.hu go from a new player on the Hungarian market to a lovebrand that saved the day. Let’s take a closer look at their award-nominated strategy.
New player turned lovebrand during the pandemic
Kifli.hu is a local subsidiary of Rohlik.cz, a Czech startup unicorn that’s aiming to become one of Europe’s top players in grocery delivery and is currently valued at 1 billion EUR. After successful expansions on the Hungarian and Austrian markets, the founder of Rohlik.cz, Tomáš Čupr secured an investment of 190 billion EUR and is heading to Germany, Romania, Italy, France, and Spain.
“The investment proves the trust of the investors in the fast growth of the group. Now we are perceived as a European company capable of fast expansion on the very demanding western European markets. The new investment helps us grow even faster than we expected,” stated Čupr in his interview for Forbes.
Launching on the Hungarian market wasn’t without major challenges as the company entered the market only a few months before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. At Kifli, they had to quickly adapt to the situation.
Ultimately, the newcomers hired Growww Digital to come up with an effective communication strategy based on understanding their customer’s needs.
“Hungarians are so tired of ‘social media perfection’: what they want to see more of are real people, real faces. They are craving real, normal human stories. COVID-19 has made the longing even stronger: fans simply wanted to see the people behind the business and engage with them before making the purchase as well as during the shopping process,” Alexandra Mezei, the Head of Social Media & Brand Communications at Growww Digital, explains.
Proposing an unorthodox strategy, which went against the industry standards (both Tesco and Auchan have rather standard brand presence), wasn’t the only bold move from Growww Digital. When Laszló Szabó, Co-founder and Head of Growth of this results-first oriented digital marketing agency, heard about Rohlik.cz’s expansion on the Hungarian market he was excited. As a big-time fan, he proposed that they approach the management and negotiate a collaboration. Unfortunately, the pitch wasn’t successful as Kifli’s management preferred to have an internal team taking care of their social media profiles.
A few weeks later, the pandemic hit and Kifli’s social media profiles went silent similarly to their competitors. Alexandra approached Kifli’s people once again, expressing her concern for the new player on the market making a bad first impression on their customers with that silence. Being cheeky paid out – she heard back from them quite promptly stating that they are facing some challenges and are in need of someone to manage their communication, starting immediately.
Alexandra and her team basically had the weekend to create a brand new strategy and get up to speed on how the company currently operates.
Convinced that being real pays off, Growww Digital proposed people-focused and transparent communication. Unlike the established competitors who were inactive on social media during the beginning of the pandemic, Kifli shared two posts per day and up to 20 posts per week.
The strategy was based on stories of Kifli’s employees – covering everyone from the warehouses, delivery guys, to HR and management. This approach showed the human side of the business which led the customers to see Kifli as a family business rather than a corporation. “It happened to me several times that the customer recognized me from a Facebook post. They knew my name, greeted me with a smile, and I even received small gifts to help me get through the long working hours,” said driver David at Kifli.hu.
He is one of many. “It all came at the right time: Kifli’s competitors have just had to postpone online orders by 3-4 weeks due to high demand, and so fuelled by the commitment to serve people in need (because no one else could) Kifli’s employees went all in. New to the country, they secured delivery in 72 hours,” Alexandra recalls, adding that she had mothers and young mothers in mind when creating some of the creative campaigns, because after all, they were the most concerned at that time.
Just like employees at Kifli worked around the clock to make sure they deliver food to all customers, the Growww Digital team had to adjust their working schedules to collaborate with the client. Swamped with operations, the Kifli’smanagement and Alexandra Mezei talked before or long after working hours as well as during weekends to discuss posts for the next few days. Alexandra, having both the photography skills and the equipment, volunteered to visit the warehouses and offices to capture all sorts of photos used for the campaign.
Just as Kifli showed resilience by quickly serving as much of the market as they possibly could, our social media director Alexandra worked around the clock, including taking the behind the scenes photos so crucial for a transparency campaign.
The Growww Digital team needed to be self-sufficient and go beyond the initial agreement to make sure the campaign is a success and their client gets the results that were promised – to make Kifli go from a new player to a lovebrand.
Growww Digital’s strategy focused on organic reach and creating content that would go viral as an indicator that it truly resonates with the target audience.
When the Growww Digital team took over Kifli’s Facebook and Instagram profiles, the average organic reach was around 150,000 which they managed to skyrocket to 2.5 million in just two months. It remained above this number for the rest of the 6-month collaboration. On average, the organic reach was 2.7 million.
This means that the campaign reached far beyond the potential customer base in Budapest where Kifli was able to serve. It paved the way for future expansion to deliver to customers beyond the city area.
A living proof that results come first when you strategize smartly, but even a great execution needs time to spread among the users. Source: Growww Digital
The campaign contained two main series of posts; a transparent communication of what’s currently happening in the company and a 50-episode-long series called “People of Kifli” where they featured not just leaders and management, but mainly drivers, cleaners and of course delivery guys. Later on, they added a series of posts called “Save The Food Programme” sharing Kifli’s values.
Sharing safety measures and going the extra mile.
“People of Kifli.hu” was launched with photos taken by Alexa as a means to capture the employees authentically and in their natural work environment. This lifestyle photography approach has been particularly popular both on Facebook and Instagram as a powerful employer branding tool. “Long gone are the days of stylized photos that have a better use for a company website or in media press releases. On social media, these photos tend to be perceived as inauthentic,” the social media team believes.
“Not only did this spark inspiration. We made more than 16 million impressions in a month while there are less than 3 million people who belong to their demographic target audience,” Alexandra adds in an important context.
Going viral and gaining 20K followers instantly
Kifli opened up about their values smartly, at just about the right time. After introducing the “Save The Food Programme,” they went viral in no time and gained more than 20,000 followers on Facebook without any paid ads. “Upon checking the demographic data it turned out some of their fans were located outside of their service area. They have constantly been demanding its extension because they wanted to be part of something extraordinary that social media highlighted,” dedicated social media expert adds.
Overall, people became very active in engaging with the posts. When Growww Digital took over, there were about 30,000 engaged users, and Hungary-based CEE digital marketing agency managed to grow it to approximately 170,000 active users. “The number of engaged users shows how many users found the content interesting enough to click on it: like, share, comment, or engage in any way. When it is relevant, people are sharing it and spreading the word about the company for free. It is like the KPI of a digital word of mouth,” Alexandra explains.
The campaign got nominated and shortlisted for CMA 2020, a prestigious Facebook-communication-focused award. It wasn’t necessarily a surprise nomination as the campaign got highlighted and praised in industry-related Hungarian media. Digitalhungary.com writes that according to Neticle’s media research “online ordering was one of the hottest topics talked about amongst internet users. Interestingly, the opinion formed about it tends to be negative, as with the only exception of Kifli.hu.”
Neticle’s media research proved Growww’s assumption that showing all the effort made in order to improve the way you do business is something that won’t stay without appreciation on the customer’s side. It also confirms that no matter how many restrictions had to be done during the state emergency, transparent communication made everything understandable and led to empathy.
“Kifli chose a well-built strategy when they focused on something else: even though they were communicating about these topics as they were important to customers, they did not put all the focus on speed or safety of delivery as other food delivery companies did,” Alexandra reads the statistics, “instead, we chose to entertain, humanise and packed everything behind in a very positive way of thinking that leaded to a positive atmosphere on the social media platforms” and also, hopefully, in people’s homes.
As people spent over a year in front of their screens, they started to be very selective about the content they want to consume. Most businesses were forced to start selling online, which increased the overall amount of content advertising various products and services.
People quickly turned from excitement about the support of a local business to become fatigued by the sheer volume of content prompting them to buy something. Combined with the uncertain situation, ever-changing restrictions, and worry-some economic impact of the pandemic, businesses have a harder-than-ever time capturing the attention of potential customers and selling to them online.
We believe the current trend gravitates towards more authentic, relatable content rather than perfectly polished content that screams “advertising.”
Here are the 3 key takeaways from applying a more authentic content strategy:
Transparency builds trust. While admitting to mistakes and challenges opens the company up to public criticism, staying silent and not communicating is simply not right. Being up-front and offering an apology together with a solution makes people see the human side of the business, which helps build trust and loyalty. Our apologetic posts admitting to mistakes were met with much understanding from the customers and we faced very little backlash. “We can say 90% of the comments were positive despite the fact that we needed to make a statement of severity or restriction about the service or the products, including stock shortage or delivery delays,” Alexandra breaks it down, “the remaining 10% still stayed neutral. Less than 1%)negative comments came and the company did not have to be involved in it, other customers defended Kifli by highlighting all the positives.”
Real people over actors and models. Customers want to recognize themselves in the content. This is why we’ve talked to Kifli’s employees and found over 50 volunteers who were willing to be the faces of our campaign. The most important part was to explain the big idea behind this campaign, so the employees know the intention behind it. This motivated them to want to become a part of the campaign as they also wanted to see more real people on social media and feel better after consuming the content.
Unusual situations require an unusual approach. The timing was everything in our campaign. Instead of waiting for how the situation pans out, so we could apply methods that were tried before, we took a risk with an unconventional strategy. We believe that the best marketing comes from listening to people and serving them with content that resonates with them. This is what set Kifli.hu apart from their competitors and won the hearts of their customers. The people-first approach will always stay on top of changing trends and preferences no matter what’s the current situation in the world.
Recently, Kifli reached out to Growww Digital for a tailor made TikTok campaign. “During the pandemic it became crystal clear that innovation in communication and marketing is a must when you want to become a lovebrand. There is no louder innovation now than TikTok presence and advertising,” Alexandra explains the next steps.
She believes the booming short video platform is the way forward in B2C communication. “As Kifli.hu is part of an international chain, their communication has to be consistent in the long run. As they came out from the pandemic period, they do not need unique strategies on Facebook and Instagram, it is better to follow their international standards. However, Hungarian Kifli.hu customers are thrilled to get behind-the-scenes glimpse and there is no better platform for this than TikTok. Over the first weekend of our 2021 cooperation, they gained almost 2,000 followers. The growth continues with an ongoing collaboration on TikTok,” Mezei is confident about this new venture as Growww Digital was one of the first agencies offering TikTok Advertising in Hungary and the CEE region, and therefore has already gained a track-record.