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Editor’s note to the editor’s note – Our social media project with the now glorious Mr Rental came to end in March 2017

We will keep this case study online to preserve the historical record, and in hope that our Deep Method Social team will return home... One day.

Editor’s note – Requests for case study on the Mr Rental Facebook page

We’ve been getting a lot of requests for a case study on the astonishing success of Mr Rental’s Facebook page.

Since we began running the page, it has grown from 3,500 to more than 70,000 likes, and whereas an old Mr Rental post would typically attract half a dozen comments and shares, current posts get hundreds or thousands. The community is so engaged that members create their own Mr Rental fan art, and routinely use Facebook’s direct messaging to send us surprisingly graphic love letters.

EXPAND

This was one of the earliest pieces of Mr Rental fan art. It’s a version of the This Party Sucks meme. What’s impressive is that, at the time of it’s creation, all the products and prices were accurate

Our two-part three-part formula
for social media success

What is our formula for creating such a thriving online community? Other creative agencies will tell you there is no formula, that success is a mysterious combination of art, science and luck. At Liquid Interactive, we do not believe this is true. In fact, we have a defined—almost formulaic process—called BAE, which stands for Brand Audience Experimentation.

BAE means being willing to explore the brand, understand the audience, and continually experiment with content ideas until you achieve Profound Business Results (PBR). The results look different for every brand and every community.

Note that Brand Audience Experimentation is not for the faint-hearted. Both client and agency must be patient, brave and willing to abandon old ideas in the face of new data.

In fact, we have found that BAE is so challenging that it can’t be effectively implemented by standard social media teams, which is why we established a specialised team called Deep Method Social (or DMS for short).

Our Deep Method Social team work in a dedicated facility, a bunker in the weedy no-man’s land beside the railway track just behind the main Liquid Interactive studio. In this holistic space, the DMS team are able to explore the full Brand Audience Experimentation process, without being distracted by the day-to-day running of the office.

A partial account of the Mr Rental Facebook page

Obviously the best people to provide a detailed account of how BAE has been applied to Mr Rental are the DMS team themselves, however they have not responded to repeated requests for a draft case study.

This is not unusual; the absorbing nature of Brand Audience Experimentation means we’ll sometimes go for weeks without seeing the DMS team at all.

However, since a number of industry peers, clients and media outlets have asked repeatedly for a case study, we have pieced together a rough account from old email chains, conversations on Slack, and scraps of paper we’ve found in the recycling bin that the DMS leave outside their bunker door on Thursday afternoons.

This case study is not to be taken as an authoritative account—there are many gaps and mysteries—but hopefully it answers some of the more common questions.

Note: we have ordered email chains chronologically, for readability.

MONTH 1

EXPAND

Here we see the DMS undertaking the first step in Brand Audience Experimentation by systematically exploring the brand, business, audience and past activity. As evidenced by ST's responses, the team's distress is probably an over-reaction. (Successful members of the DMS are often highly-sensitive personalities.)

Sent: 23 November, 2013

Subject: Re New client: Mr Rental

Are you serious? Mr Rental?

Isn't there something else we can work on?

ML

Sent: 23 November, 2013

Subject: Re Re New client: Mr Rental

Take a breath. It’s going to be fine.

ST

Sent: 24 November, 2013

Subject: Re Re Re New client: Mr Rental

Have you been through the Facebook page? What does the average post get? 10 likes? And if anyone comments, it’s to abuse the staff! It’s like a complaints forum. 😩

We are going to get slaughtered.

LD

Sent: 24 November, 2013

Subject: Re Re Re Re New client: Mr Rental

It’s not that bad. Some people really like Mr Rental. They talk to him like he’s a person.

ST

Sent: 24 November, 2013

Subject: Re Re Re Re Re New client: Mr Rental

Why would anyone want to rent anyway!?

ML

EXPAND

The historical approach to Mr Rental Facebook posts was to replicate content from the retail catalogue. We can see from this sample post that engagement was minimal. An important question for the DMS would have been whether that low level of engagement reflected the full potential of the brand and the audience, or whether better results could be achieved through application of Brand Audience Experimentation.

post statistics

2,934

unique reach

71

Likes

10

Comments

15

Shares

96

Total Engagement

#mrrental

5 members


November 28

LD 10:22am

Anyone want to see some Mr Rental sentiment analysis?

ST 10:22am

Yes Please!

LD 10:23am

It’s just a word cloud based on FB comments from the last six months.
It's not super-polished but it gives you a sense of what people think

uploaded a file

MrRental_sentiment-analysis_1-6_2015

1MB PDF

ST 10:28am

ML 10:28am

EXPAND

This word cloud was created using Dakota, our subscription-based data analytics and visualisation service. Interested in using Dakota to generate insights for your business? Talk to us today!

MONTH 2

Sent: 17 December, 2013

Subject: Does anyone have any ideas for MR posts?

I’m struggling with this post formula of Mr Rental + catalogue item + stock photo model.

For starters I’m running out of things to pull from the catalogue. I’ve done the exercise machine, playstation, Xbox, TV, phone...

What’s next?

Sent: 17 December, 2013

Subject: Re Re New client: Mr Rental

Anyone?

TO DO
WED     THUR     FRI

Tidy folders on M:
Invoicing
Return Bridget's clothes and toiletries
Draft Thursday Mr Rental FB Post
post statistics

20,512

unique reach

32

Likes

6

Comments

2

Shares

40

Total Engagement

#mrrental

5 members


4 December

ML 2:31pm

Did you see the roing machine post?

ST 2:34pm

Roing machine?

LD 2:35pm

*Rowing

ST 2:35pm

No

ML 2:36pm

Stock model on a rowing machine
Mr Rental standing there grinning for no reason
12 LIKES

ST 2:38pm

ML 2:40pm

I can’t keep doing this
It’s not working
Something’s got to change

MONTH 8

EXPAND

Here we see evidence of the DMS engaging in the Experimentation part of BAE. Note that this experiment might not have been well-received by either the client or the audience, but Brand Audience Experimentation requires a certain amount of risk-taking.

Sent: 02 June 2014

Subject: Mr Rental needs to go

Guys, the problem with the Mr Rental page is Mr Rental.

He’s old. He’s daggy. He’s boring.

That character is the #1 thing holding this page back.

We need to get rid of him.

From now on Mr Rental is banned from Facebook posts. We’re trying something else.

EXPAND

Here you can see the BAE process led the DMS to create a series of lifehack posts, which–because of their valuable content–were immediately more popular than the retail-themed posts.

post statistics

56,000

unique reach

126

Likes

39

Comments

116

Shares

281

Total Engagement

ML, ST, LD

Active 17m ago

3:52pm

That’s what I’m talking about!

Nice one

See what I mean?
It’s all about valuable content
Everyone wants lifehacks
Nobody wants Mr Rental

EXPAND

A critical part of Brand Audience Experimentation is accountability and results. Here we see the DMS team being criticised for celebrating vanity metrics and overlooking business impact. Members of the DMS team must be comfortable with receiving and actioning such feedback.

Sent: 15 June, 2014

Subject: Lifehacks content pillar

Hi there DMS team,

I get where you’re going with the lifehacks but it’s not working.

Yes, the posts are popular—and I get the whole relationship to household goods, stress less living, I really do—but none of this content is ownable.

If you saw this in your newsfeed, it could be from anywhere.

There’s no relationship to the Mr Rental brand. You need to change that.

AM

Sent: 15 June, 2014

Subject: Re Lifehacks content pillar

Mr Rental is not going back into those posts!

I’m serious! Don’t push me on this! I know what I’m doing!

No Mr Rental!

ML

Restless night. So sleepy this morning. Sitting on train. Looked out window at the Valley station. Saw a man standing in crowd, thought for a second he was Mr Rental. Got out of train and he was gone, but then I looked back and saw the same guy sitting in my seat. Train sped away into darkness. Dreaming?

Sent: 02 April 2014

Subject: Lifehack sites

Hi guys

Lifehack posts are doing great:

Airplane mode charging 3.1k

Bread tag power cables 2.7k

Xmas lights 898

But does anyone else feel like we’re running out of ideas?

ML

Sent: 02 April 2014

Subject: Lifehack sites

We could do something topical?

ST

MONTH 14

EXPAND

In this post we see the DMS experimenting with ways to re-incorporate Mr Rental into the Facebook posts as topical, branded content without making specific reference to rental goods. Note the continuing improvement in engagement. It is a testament to the effectiveness of BAE.

post statistics

34,400

unique reach

1,063

Likes

16

Comments

11

Shares

1,090

Total Engagement

ML, ST, LD

Active 17m ago

3:52pm

Who put Mr Rental in that Royals post!?
I thought we agreed no more Mr Rental in FB post art!
WHO DID IT?

Not me

I thought you did it.

Are you joking???

It got over 1000 likes. That’s the best branded content post so far.

I think it’s weird. In a good way.
It brings out Mr Rental’s inherent weirdness.
I like it.

I like it too.

Really?
We should hang out together.

AAARGGHH!

Dear Bridget, this sucks. Why won’t you answer my calls? Why can’t we make this work? It’s not fair
I thought we were forever. ML

#directmessages

4 members


22 June 2015

LD 10:05am

Hey dude you okay?
You look stressed.

ML 10:07am

Just tired. Haven’t been sleeping.

LD 10:08am

Putting on weight tho

ML 10:10am

Thx

LD 10:12am

left #mrrental

Sent: 11 July 2015

Subject: Re Re Lifehacks content pillar

AM,

Just letting you know I give up

I’ll put Mr Rental back into the lifehack posts

ML

MONTH 16

EXPAND

This post marks an interesting transition in the DMS team's experimentation. While the post itself was of middling performance, the activity in the comments, where members of the DMS respond to FB users in the character of Mr Rental, is significant.

post statistics

52,359

unique reach

314

Likes

53

Comments

31

Shares

398

Total Engagement

#mrrental

5 members


19 October 2015

ST 10:01am

Hahahahaha
CLASSIC

LD 10:01am

?

ST 10:03am

ML did this jam jar lifehack post
Someone commented they had a much better way to do it, using a knife
So ML posted this pic

LD 10:03am

ST 10:04am

LD 10:04am

Taking a stand ML

ML 10:06am

I didn't write that comment. Wasn't it one of you/???

ST 10:07am

Not me..

LD 10:08am

Well it worked

ST 10:08am

So good. More of that please.

ML 10:08am

I don’t even know where the picture came from. Whose kitchen is this?

MONTH 18

Dreamt I was in a dollhouse. Surrounded by mannequins sitting on rented frontloading washer/driers. Went outside to a grassy meadow. Beautiful and green. Moon was resting in a white fairyfloss cloud. Big and round. Smiling.
The moon was smiling at me.
EXPAND

Rigorous application of the BAE process leads the DMS away from their established content pillars of retail offers, lifehacks and topical references, and into a territory that is purely about brand personality. Mr Rental has always had an element of "dad joke" about him. This post is a continuation of that theme, minus the usual retail elements.

post statistics

75,062

unique reach

378

Likes

21

Comments

35

Shares

434

Total Engagement
I see Mr Rental. I see him when I'm awake and when I'm asleep. He's not speaking to me... He's speaking through me.

I'm the puppet and he's the puppeteer.

Sent: 18 December 2015

Subject: What’s wrong with the carpet?

Is it just me or has the carpet gone crunchy?

ML

Sent: 18 December 2015

Subject: Re What’s wrong with the carpet?

Sorry that’s sand. We went to the beach at lunch.

ST

Sent: 18 December 2015

Subject: Re Re What’s wrong with the carpet?

The beach?? That’s an hour away!

ML

Sent: 18 December 2015

Subject: Re Re Re What’s wrong with the carpet?

Worth it. We were just saying how great it was to swim in the ocean.

There were loads of people, maybe a hundred of us. Someone had rented a big fridge and filled it with fruit and ice cream.

You should get out more. Participate in the culture. We invited you?

LD

Sent: 18 December 2015

Subject: Re Re Re What’s wrong with the carpet?

I didn’t know. I was asleep in the meeting room!

ML

MONTH 19

#mrrental

5 members


16 December 2015

ST 3:52pm

Did you notice the sunset?

ML 3:56pm

I saw it through the doorway
(BTW who propped the door open?)

ST 3:52pm

So beautiful
He was smiling at us

ML 3:56pm

Who was?

EXPAND

This post–the most popular to that date–demonstrates an increasingly deep connection between audience and brand. The post also marks a tipping point where audience comments become popular in their own right, and more and more people begin reading and responding to other comments on the post

post statistics

204,966

unique reach

6,087

Likes

1,318

Comments

818

Shares

8,224

Total Engagement
Dear Bridget,
I just wanted to say I am sorry for the way things ended. I don’t understand it. We couldn’t be together we couldn’t be apart. It’s a paradox

ML

MONTH 21

Sent: 29 January 2016

Subject: Re We need space cats

Team DMS, are you sure about the space cats? Client is giving me a lot of pushback.

AM

Sent: 29 January 2016

Subject: Re Re We need space cats

We need them. If client says no we’re doing it anyway.

ST

Sent: 29 January 2016

Subject: Re Re Re We need space cats

Client wants you to test both ways.

AM

Sent: 29 January 2016

Subject: Re Re Re Re We need space cats

Already done it

FYI space cats won

Twice as good as no space cats

#sorrynotsorry

LD

EXPAND

Indeed this is true. The space cats version of the ad sold twice as many beds as the version without space cats. DK's passion shows how the BAE's data-driven analytics leads to an intimate understanding of the audience's deepest needs and desires. Which in this instance was a need for space cats.

Sent: 15 February 2016

Subject: Mehmet Clotard

Hey ST have you seen this?

I read it and felt like I was waking up to something.

ML

Sent: 15 February 2016

Subject: Re Mehmet Clotard

ST? Hello?

ML

Sent: 15 February 2016

Subject: Where is ST?

LD have you seen ST this week?

ML

MONTH 24

Dream. Caught a boat across the sea. But not alone. Everyone was there. The moon above us in the tropics. It was only a fleeting dream, but for a moment it was perfect.

The posts come easy now.

It’s almost like I do them in my sleep... Or like he does them in my sleep. 
EXPAND

Around this time, the DMS renegotiated their deliverables so that they were free to create content when and where they saw fit, without regard for schedules or quotas. Their only objective was to continue using BAE to grow the audience.

post statistics

106,740

unique reach

1,257

Likes

459

Comments

178

Shares

1,893

Total Engagement
Walked to work this morning and the morning felt bubbly, like the whole city was champagne. The sidewalk was fizzing, the buildings were afoam. We are billions of bubbles, blinking in and out of existence.
PS I’m sure I heard MR on the radio today!
post statistics

346,725

unique reach

5,625

Likes

1,857

Comments

368

Shares

7,843

Total Engagement

Sent: 13 March 2016

Subject: Timesheets

Hi guys

I know you’re busy but can you please straighten out these timesheets. We have weird hours, unknown job and activity codes, someone’s writing in French, and several of you have stopped submitting altogether.

Please get on top of this.

JT

post statistics

80,072

unique reach

2,975

Likes

653

Comments

162

Shares

3,790

Total Engagement

Sent: 13 March 2016

Subject: Re Re Re Re Case study

Can someone please get back to me about this case study. We are getting questions.

AM

EXPAND

The culmination of 18 months' brand audience experimentation, Waddup Washing Machine was the most popular Mr Rental Facebook post of all time, smashing all previous records for views, shares, reactions—and most importantly, comments. It is evidence of the profound effectiveness of BAE as a transferable process that any brand can use to create deep engagement and genuine business impact.

post statistics

320,095

unique reach

3,463

Likes

4,240

Comments

731

Shares

8,434

Total Engagement

MONTH 25

Sent: 1 April 2016

Subject: Hey

Hey you

I haven’t heard from you for so long. No text. No email. Maybe you’ve been crazy busy.

How are you? Are you okay? Please don’t read too much into this message. I’m just checking in on you, that’s all.

Bridget

Sent: 2 April 2016

Subject: Re Hey

Hey you too!

I wrote you a note a while ago—like an actual paper note—but I must have forgotten to send it to you. Probably put it in the recycling bin or something.

Everything is great! Really! 😊 Sorry I haven’t been in touch. Been busy at work. Lost track of time and space, you know? 😊

I’m so glad you emailed me. I want you to know it’s all good. I was holding onto the idea of us for a long time, but then I realised there’s nothing in life we can ever really hold onto. Ownership is an illusion. Everything is changing, and you and I are like bubbles in a stream.

I’m feeling really good, B. I hope you’re feeling good too.

ML

I wake up from a dream in which I am a caterpillar crawling out to become a butterfly. I feel as light as light. I am a gradient, rising into the heavens over the bunker, which is nestled in the grass below like an abandoned cocoon.
 
There is the studio, the Liquidites at their desks, writing, designing, coding, testing, and beyond them are the offices and homes of the city, full of whitegoods and small appliances, both rented and owned outright, all of it seemingly in miniature like a diorama beneath an orange and lilac sky.
 
The stars are out, and the planets Mars and Jupiter, and beyond them the froth of the Milky Way. The galaxies wheel in their clusters. The vastness is cool and bright and shimmering. I can feel something vibrating, like ancient laughter beneath the fabric of the cosmos, a joke from a father who will never grow old.
 
And then somewhere beyond the stars I hear a thousand fridge doors opening. I look and… Oh my god… They are full of cocktails and–
post statistics

128,446

unique reach

980

Likes

683

Comments

110

Shares

1,773

Total Engagement

Editor's Note


And that's all we have to date. Assuming anyone from the DMS gets back in touch, which they will have to because these timesheets really are a mess, then we will update this patchwork account with a more definitive story about how Mr Rental has evolved as a brand over the last year and a half.

Certainly it is a fascinating story and a great testament to how a patient and courageous client, working with a committed team who truly understand the Brand Audience Experimentation process, can work together to produce an amazing result.

And let's not forget the audience, since the real success of Mr Rental has been the enthusiasm and participation of a dedicated fan-base who seem to genuinely love rental, whether it’s a longterm lease of a fridge, phone or sofa, or the short term rental of, say, an Xbox or a rowing machine.

While the correspondence above might convey an initial sense of uncertainty among some staff, it's worth noting that this is not unusual for Liquid Interactive projects in general, and DMS projects in particular. However, we are always confident that the process will lead to good results eventually, as it has not just with Mr Rental but with many other clients...