Startup scoops up Australia's doggy doo problem with social media smarts

Marketing leader for Australian startup, Oh Crap, shares how social media and search management are helping grow brand awareness and sales

A homegrown company focused on scooping up Australia’s dog poop problem has seen sales and brand reach exponentially increase off the back of improving its social media management approach.

Oh Crap was founded in Victoria, Australia four years ago with the aim of delivering more sustainable options for dealing with dog poop. Incredibly, 1.2 tonnes of waste is produced by Australia’s 3 million dogs each day, translating into 4 per cent of landfill when picked up in non-recyclable plastic bags.

Having gone through a number of materials, the group in the last 18 months settled on marketing cornstarch-based products. These biodegrade within three months and therefore are a much more environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional plastic bag.

While the initial focus has been on serving customers in its local area, the group is already seeing interest from consumers as far afield as Canada and France.  

Having kicked things off with a website and PayPal purchasing capabilities, the group worked to build awareness through local dog shows, talking to friends and gaining word-of-mouth. A year ago, it upped the ante on social, building out both its organic as well as paid content approach with an emphasis on Facebook and Instagram.

“Facebook is where social change and ideas get shared in more detail, which is why we put the emphasis here,” Oh Crap marketer, Henry Reith, told CMO.

Alongside social, Oh Crap has been investing in select and targeted paid search, focusing on environmental and sustainability terms in order to tap into consumers searching specifically for niche biodegradable and sustainable dog poop solutions.

“We have found another great channel with a few thousand now a month switching that way – if people are searching for it and want it, we’re there to help,” Reith said.

From the first day, the group has also been running Facebook ads. Reith noted how far the platform capabilities have come since then. “Over the last 18 months, as the platform became much more targeted, we have seen solid results. You really can be a lazy marketer,” Reith commented.

“The platform figures out a lot of the audiences for you and taken a lot of guesswork out in terms of paid advertising.”

But it was clear having becoming sophisticated in social and digital marketing was key to scaling engagement. Having worked with Digivizer across both his own businesses as well as in his marketing career, and now looking for a way to better tune into social sentiment and lift engagement, Reith opted to adopt Digivizer’s SaaS management platform.

As part of this increased emphasis on social as well as its growing brand presence, Oh Crap has also recruited a dedicated social media manager.

“We’ve grown enough now to have enough people talking about us on social media, that we can’t see what’s going on all the time,” Reith said. “Also, we brought on a social media person in September… from that point, and although I’m the marketer, I wasn’t in control of everything. We needed a better way to check if the money being spent is worth it.

Example of Oh Crap's Instagram content
Example of Oh Crap's Instagram content


“It’s also valuable to see how much engagement we’re getting and what’s working versus what’s not.”  

The Digivizer tool allows the Oh Crap team to understand how the media budget is performing in real time across social platforms, data that’s then used to direct marketing budget to campaigns and creative driving the most impact. An example is tracking hashtags for ‘share and win’ competitions, allowing staff to break down who shares the hashtag, every month, in order to allocate prizes and better market its products.

The results

Within the first six weeks, the company saw engagement across both Facebook and Instagram increase by 25 per cent, with impressions on Facebook doubling over the past 12 months. Since October, Instagram followers have tripled.

“Part of being able to grow our performance has come from being able to see which parts of our program work,” Reith said. “It’s great to see all our numbers in one place inside the Digivizer platform, without having to struggle with each social and search channel’s own analytics.”

Importantly, the technology is also helping track sales to social. Oh Crap has saved 3 million bags from landfill to date, helping just over 10,000 Aussie dog owners to embrace compostable dog poop bags.

Reith noted sophistication around social media has become increasingly vital as the brand steps out of its local market. It now chalks up over 350,000 impressions per week.

“The social conversation can get completely out of hand and you need to jump in to clarify the truth, which has happened to us on one occasion,” he said. In one instance, Oh Crap experienced this around a branded photograph featuring a dog with a baby. The subject matter proved contentious and negative commentary via the hashtag was immediate.

“That post got a lot of very negative comments which surprised us slightly,” he explained. “It shows there are a lot more people invested in what we’re doing. And it showed us we’re not actually going to know every person we interact with.”    

Oh Crap has since built out a checklist to better verify the types of social posts and content the brand should be distributing in order to align better to its core values.

As a company, Oh Crap’s ambitions are big, with a lofty and overarching goal of changing 1 per cent of the Australian market dog poop problem in the next six months, and eventually erradicating the 4 per cent of landfill it represents.  

Read more of our social media marketing case studies:

 

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