Stirring It Up on Social: Lessons From ‘Built With Chocolate Milk’

Handling Comms During COVID-19? We've compiled our best resources.

We often associate happy childhood moments with PB&J sandwiches and chocolate milk. So much excitement came from stirring chocolate powder (or syrup) into a tall glass of cold milk.

But you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy chocolate milk. Adults can, and do, swear by it these days. In fact, if you look to Twitter or Instagram, you’ll see that chocolate milk has gone from a kid’s treat to a serious athlete recovery beverage.

Recently, the Built With Chocolate Milk campaign announced the latest addition to their Team Chocolate Milk team, professional soccer player Kelley O’Hara, in preparation for the Women’s World Cup kicking off on June 6. Last week we spoke with Miranda Abney, marketing director at the Milk Processor Education Program, about the campaign’s social media strategy.

Not every brand has a celebrity athlete like Kelley O’Hara to promote their message, but they can use the tips and tricks Miranda and her team have implemented in making chocolate milk such a hit among professional and aspiring athletes.

Check out what Miranda had to say.

Q: Who do you target on social media? Which channels do you use?

Our target is adults who are physically active. For those in the know and physically fit, using social media is a super important part of their lives, whether it’s for tracking fitness, competing with their friends or reporting on whatever sport they’re playing.

We know it’s really important as a brand to be present on all those channels: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

Q: Which channel seems to work the best for getting the message out there?

We do a lot of real-time monitoring of how our different channels and tactics are performing and we optimize our plans and budget against where we’re seeing the most engagement.

Twitter is probably the best vehicle for our target at this time. It overperforms for us. We see a lot of engagement there.

We have a little bit of a different strategy, though. Our strategy is to be there and support our athletes and folks who are using chocolate milk for recovery. We try to be authentic without being commercial. We want to encourage athletes in their efforts and be there with an authentic real voice. We want to be relatable and talk to the athletes in a way that will resonate with them while increasing our visibility.

Want to expand your brand’s reach? Turn employees into social advocates. Click here to see how with our free tip sheet!

Q: What has changed about your Twitter strategy since you joined in 2010?

Well, for one, seeing the influencers we’re partnering with now, whether it’s a celebrity athlete like Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers or Kelley O’Hara from the US Women’s National Team. Today, it’s all about using these influencers to have a big reach. They can really help communicate our message to their followers and help us recruit new followers as well.

We’re also looking at influencers who are less frequently in the spotlight: nutritionists, trainers, folks who have credibility for this recovery nutrition space are great for us on Twitter.

Q: Compared to Twitter, who do you usually target with your Instagram account?

We’re not doing any paid targeting on Instagram just yet. It’s very organic. We are trying to be a bit broader by appealing to the everyday exerciser, whether you’re a casual pick up soccer player or a tennis player. Whatever sport you’re into, we want to appeal to you.

There’s a lot of response to the “peak behind the curtain” method that consumers like from ad shoots. We also like reposting stuff that our celebrity athletes put up. Motivational messaging coupled with a beautiful image seems to really resonate. It’s a great channel to support and inspire the everyday athlete. 

Q: I see that you have a contest in addition to Team Chocolate Milk to get the word out about chocolate milk as a recovery beverage. How did you develop your contest? How do you promote it on social media?

Yes, we have the #BuildItChallenge going on right now. We’re asking people to share with us on Twitter or Instagram how they recover with chocolate milk after a workout. People have their smartphones on them at all times these days. Using social media is such a user friendly way to celebrate a special moment and share it with your friends and the world.

It was originally developed as a tool to drive and increase engagement at Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon events. Chocolate milk is the official beverage of all the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathons. Athletes love to come in, have a little fun, get their pictures taken… it’s a way to engage with athletes at these events.

We’ve seen a nice uptick in people at home who are just seeing social media posts about it too. We’re not putting a lot of money behind it. We really want it to be a grassroots, organic campaign.

Q: How do use YouTube to help promote your campaign? How do you know that your efforts are working?

Chocolate milk and recovery is still a new phenomenon to a lot of people. The great thing about YouTube videos, that’s not as easy to accomplish with TV or a still picture, is that it gives us a platform to talk to people and tell the whole story about what your body needs after exercise and the ways chocolate milk can meet those needs. In the BECOME ONE series with Hines Ward, there were 13 episodes and people were able to see the whole journey, going from a legendary football player to a triathlete by doing an IRONMAN.

As we’ve gotten word out more, we’re also doing some shorter form content. It allows people to know our athletes more and develop an affinity for our brand.

There’s several mechanisms. Not only “How many views are we getting?”, but “How long are people staying engaged?” You can get an idea of what’s the right amount of time.

We can cut and cater to the video features on Instagram, or longer form on Facebook. We’re literally watching things in real time and making changes as necessary. We work with a lot of distribution partners who provide the data that we look at for measurement.

Q: I saw on your website that the Apollo Ohno campaign was one of your best yet. What specifically about your social media strategy made that campaign so successful?

We had a lot of learning from the previous program the year before, and we optimized the content we were putting out. We tried to keep things succinct. He is such a true believer in chocolate milk and he also is really good at social media. He was very enthusiastic about supporting the stuff we were putting out, so I have to give a lot of credit to him.

When you have the opportunity to put some paid support behind a spokesperson activity, that’s super beneficial. For instance, if we saw that he tweeted about one of the episodes and it was getting a lot of engagement then we would identify that and put some extra dollars behind it to help build on that engagement. Keep an eye on what is resonating with people naturally and then identify opportunities to maximize that.

Q: What’s your advice for someone getting started with their campaign on social media?

I would say there’s a certain amount of focus that you need to have. A lot of brands make the mistake of being too many things to too many people and that can cause your voice and brand to be a bit inconsistent. It’s really important to know who you’re talking to through those channels and addressing them through a way that’s appealing to them and also very authentic to who your brand is. Keep it real. Don’t try to be something you’re not. People will sniff that out. Know what your voice is, who your voice is after, and stick to it.

Tags : social media

About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.

Recent Posts

Cision Blogs

  • Communications Best Practices

    Get the latest updates on PR, communications and marketing best practices.

  • Cision Product News

    Keep up with everything Cision. Check here for the most current product news.

  • Executive Insights

    Thought leadership and communications strategy for the C-suite written by the C-suite.

  • Media Blog

    A blog for and about the media featuring trends, tips, tools, media moves and more.