Surprisingly creating and managing social advocacy still seems to be a largely ignored by brands. I could count the amount of times a client marketer has asked me ‘how will this idea drive positive conversation’ on one hand, maybe one finger. The focus is always on whats going to be said to consumers. Funny when the answer to the question ‘Do you want people to talk positively about your brand?’ is always yes.
To illustrate why social advocacy is important, consider these 5 thoughts;
1. Ground swell
Social advocacy marketing is driven by the consumer in a bottom up approach. Traditional communication operates in a top down fashion. By populating both sides of the equation a brand can create and deliver a more holistic and immersive message to market.
According to Nielsen 78% of people trust peoples online opinions on brands where as only 14% trust advertising. So imagine if you are a hotel chain marketing how wonderful and comfy your beds are. You may advertise on Trip Advisor. Unfortunately TripAdvisor also carries a ton of negative consumer reviews saying that sleeping on your so called comfortable beds is actually akin to laying on a bed of nails! All of a sudden the advertising has no credibility. The opposite is also true. Creating positive conversation that supports a marketing message delivers much stronger brand credibility than just advertising alone.
The recent Gap logo debacle, where outraged consumers took their feelings to social media and managed to reverse the implementation of a newly designed logo by the fashion retailer, got me thinking.
Are consumers gaining influence over brand decisions? Having spoken to the peeps around the agency it seems that opinions are split pretty evenly between yes and no. Since a yes/no answer is akin to sitting on the fence I thought I’d pick a side.
First up, if consumers are gaining influence over brand decisions then lets be clear about one thing – its not a new phenomenon, but it has become dramatically easier for vocal consumers to be heard and rally others behind their cause. The key culprit driving this change being social media.
Lets jump back in time 25 years. Its 1985 and Coca Cola is about to introduce a reformulation of its classic Coke recipe. Product testing has been positive, consumers like the new taste, and the roll-out has been confirmed. The problem though was as soon as new Coke hit the shelves and traditional Coke disappeared consumers realized it was a substitution not an addition to the Coke line and they went nuts! So fierce was the consumer outrage that the original formula was reintroduced as Coke Classic. Interestingly consumers managed to influence a brand decision without access to social media. No YouTube, no Facebook pages, no twitter, no internet.
First there was the attention economy, snappy to the point communication for time starved consumers, and now people are talking about the socialization of brands, ensuring a brand and their proposition/messaging is social media ready. For me these ideas are one and the same, with the only change of note being the addition of a defined parameter. Prior to social media a concise or snappy communication idea was evaluated by common sense and the ability to deliver it in an elevator ride! Pretty subjective guidelines. However with the rise of social media we have a much more precise way to evaluate a brand and what it stands for. 140 characters to be precise! If a marketer can’t explain their brand, product, communications strategy in 140 characters or less then its too complicated.
A great example of this focused approach came from FedEx albeit before the rise of social media, but I believe it would have been no less effective today then it was then. Originally when FedEx launched in 1971 their brand and communications strategy was to be ‘better and cheaper than their competitors, focusing specifically on heavy packages’. ‘Better and cheaper’ may sound succinct but it needs further context to be relevant and trying to align specifically with ‘heavy packages’ adds a whole other level of ambiguity that would have tweeters breaking out in cold sweats.
Retailers have led the way in social media innovation in recent years with some of the most innovative campaigns and long term initiatives coming straight out the shopping malls and high streets. In reality its not a surprise that an inherently social activity is being transported onto a more socialised web but that doesn’t mean that the innovation is any less compelling.
Below is a list of what I believe are 5 of the best retail led social initiatives and where possible video case studies;
Ikea Malmo Store Opening:
The very best marketing can change things, and in this case Ikea’s ingenious Facebook campaign actually caused the platform to re-evaluate its advertising policies. A wonderful guerrilla style initiative that exploited the standard photo tagging feature. The idea was brought to life by Gordon Gustavsson a fake Malmo store manager that had his own Facebook profile. Over the course of the campaign Gordon uploaded photo’s of his new store showrooms, all of which were naturally full of Ikea furniture. Then the first person to tag their name on a particular piece of furniture won it! So tag a lamp and get that lamp! The wonderful thing about the campaign, and the ingenious Facebook exploitation is that as soon a person tags themselves in a picture, that picture is added to their activity feed! So almost immediately the campaign became a Facebook viral sensation. As word spread about the free furniture, Gordon Gustavsson’s profile was inundated by eager Swedes begging for the next showroom picture to be uploaded, new pictures beget new exposure beget new interest and so the cycle continued. Unfortunately a brand can no longer create a fake profile so we won’t see any further innovation in this space but that doesn’t stop this being the best social retail initiative I have seen.
A battle is brewing. The current tech behemoth Google, has already severely hurt the old guard in Microsoft and is readying itself for a fight with the relative new kid on the block, Facebook. In the 3 or so short years that Facebook’s platform has been publicly available there is no denying the tremendous growth it has experienced. With over 500 million active users worldwide and time spent statistics in many countries reaching unimagined heights, such as Australia where almost 30% of all time spent online is spent on Facebook, its clear something has shifted. And it’s that shift that will propel Facebook to internet dominance.
Let go back to 1975. That was the year that an unknown kid by the name of Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen made a big bet on a platform, the personal computer. The rise of that platform has propelled Microsoft toward world domination. These days Microsoft is a multi-billion corporation who’s Windows operating system powers roughly 95% of PC’s around the world. The problem that Microsoft faces though is that the personal computer market is fragmenting, or at the very least the reasons people need a computing device are. The rise of the smart-phone was the beginning of a more pronounced trend which is now being extended through the tablet. So as the needs of consumers has changed, so has the PC, and Microsoft have so far failed to exert its dominance across the ever increasing number of devices used by consumers.
I spend a lot of time both using PowerPoint and listening to people present from it. It’s not something I’m proud of, that excites me, or I even willingly do, its just part and parcel of the job. And I’m sorry Keynote users, your fancy slide builds aren’t enough, this includes you to!
Over the years I’ve heard whispers & comments, and recieved constructive criticism that led me to formalise 5 presentation principles, or rules of engagement that have held me in good stead the last few years. Here they are incase you were wondering;
PowerPoint is a tool to assist a presentation, not be the presentation
K.I.S.S, preferably pictures over words
Always add value to every slide you present
Control the delivery (seating, ambience, screen) and engage the audience (questions, theater)
If you can avoid PowerPoint, then avoid it!
However it seems that we have reached an interesting intersection when it comes to presentation creation and delivery. Presenations, in my mind at least, have always been developed with the attending audience in mind. Those that weren’t present for my captivating presentation delivery could waste their time stumbling through meaningless images and cryptic notes, hopfeully then, they would attend next time! Read more…
Foursquare is one of the fastest growing social platforms worldwide. As it moves from early adopter status to early mainstream many businesses, especially those in retail and services have started to think about how they can leverage its concept. The most obvious feature is that of Mayors. The majority of business’s listed in Foursquare will have a Mayor (the individual that checks in most frequently), and that Mayor represents something that is very valuable to any business, loyalty. In fact Starbucks is currently trialing a reward program where the Mayor of each of its coffee shops receives a special offer thanking them for their custom and loyalty.
The problem is that many businesses will have at least one tech savvy employee that has been checking in to there place of work everyday for the last 6 months. What does this mean? Well it means you won’t be able to reward your actual customers, as one of the most frequent visitors (a staff member) has the Mayor-ship locked up!
The recently announced partnership between Amazon and Facebook is immense! As the social web continues to mature we can expect to see more and more of these socially enabled shopping experiences.
From a brand point of view the partnership is totally win win, Facebook are able to showcase their connect capability on one of the largest platforms online, while Amazon have a killer feature through their ability to bring friends together around the products they sell.
What really sets this partnership apart though is the value the consumer receives, the key benefits that I see are as follows;
Explore friends and families likes and interests giving you a more valuable gauge on a product
Access to more personal recommendations based on your interests and favorites from your Facebook profile
Integrated birthday reminders, thanks the lord!
Ability to easily access wish lists and gifting recommendations making those birthday reminders easy to action and Christmas shopping less painful
The concept of tribes is nothing new and has been covered in depth and from many different angles before;
New Marketing author Seth Godin spoke to the power of the tribe and the ability of any one person to make a difference by uniting and harnessing the power of people in his book called “Tribes”. While William Earls, author of Herd, focused on the shift from individualism to tribalism, arguing that humanity is not a species of individuals but a species of herds where consumer behavior is dictated by the collective rather than by the individual.
Whatever your belief or point of view though, there has been a significant shift in the way brands are approaching and reacting to tribes. In the past, consumers had difficulty finding other like minded people en mass and relied on brands to facilitate that connection