The Blake Project, the brand consultancy behind Branding Strategy Insider, delivers interactive brand education workshops and keynote speeches designed to align marketers on essential concepts in brand management and empower them to release the full potential of the brands they manage.
Category: Branding and Social Media
Brand advocates are vital to social media marketing strategies because of the word of mouth (WoM) they generate. Positive WoM is the most coveted form of marketing because of the inherent credibility that comes with it. When satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product, service, brand, or event, they put their reputations on the line every time they make a recommendation. Others typically know the people making recommendations don’t stand to gain personally by promoting something, therein lies the credibility. How much credibility?
Here’s some important information to provide the proper context:
- Every day in the United States over three billion brand mentions occur in nearly 4½ billion conversations
- Ninety percent of the conversations regarding brand happen offline via face-to-face conversation, or voice-to-voice conversations
- Approximately 70 percent of Americans trust online reviews
- Nearly 80 percent of Americans trust online reviews about hotels and travel
- 4.3 out of 5 stars is the average rating for online reviews of products and services in the United States
- Specific brand names are mentioned 60 times weekly in online and offline conversations by typical Americans
- The majority of conversations taking place around a specific product or service are positive. The chances are good if an individual is talking about your brand, they’re saying something good
- Two-thirds of WoM conversations related to a brand are primarily positive
- Less than 10 percent of WoM conversations pertaining to a brand are primarily negative
What Did They Say?
Consumers become engrossed in hearing about new products that are of interest to them, and pay close attention to what other people are saying about these products. Surveys conducted with over 10,000 American social media users indicated that over 75 percent of these consumers are more likely to try new things based on suggestions they learned via social media. Over 70 percent of these consumers are more apt to get on the bandwagon and encourage their friends to try new products. In addition, 55 percent of recommendations made by consumers are based specifically on the customer service experience they had with a company. And nearly 30 percent of consumers are willing to pay 15 percent or more to outstanding customer experiences.
Clearly, that extra 15 percent could do wonders for increasing earnings. In September 2012, published research conducted by economists at the University of California-Berkeley found that a half-star improvement on Yelp’s 5-star rating made a restaurant between 30 – 49 percent more likely to reach maximum seating capacity during evenings. The researchers at Berkeley concluded online reviews played an increased importance in the consumers’ judgment of the quality of products and services.
Word of Mouth is the Most Influential Driver of Purchasing Decisions
Word of Mouth is the by far the number one most influential driver of purchasing decisions for nearly all categories of products and services. According to the global consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, more than 65 percent of the U.S. economy is driven by WoM! Based on the research conducted by Forrester, 500 billion WoM brand impressions are posted daily on the social web. That’s about 180 trillion online brand impressions in a single year. Forrester also claims 150 people are reached by each WoM post on the social web. This is attributed to the number of friends people have on social networks like Facebook and Google+, and the number of retweets via Twitter. It’s hard to get one’s head around 500 billion word of mouth brand impressions being posted on the social web on a daily basis; 180 trillion annually is mind boggling. What’s crystal clear is the powerful benefits inherent to positive WoM via earned media.
Investing in Word of Mouth Marketing is Very Beneficial
While it wasn’t referred to as word of mouth marketing at the time, WoM mouth and its inherent influence has been around for ages. Fostering positive word of mouth is a very worthwhile investment. Owned media, (websites, blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts), paid media, (display advertising, paid search, and sponsorship), are important, but no form of marketing provides greater returns than earned media. Savvy marketers focus on the positive impacts word of mouth marketing can have on the bottom line and brand image.
Word of mouth marketing is inexpensive. Companies can spend as much money on it as they like – companies that execute the best practices in word of mouth marketing focus on the basics – delighting customers with excellent service and experiences. They also create great products and services worth talking about, their representatives are pleasant, they listen persistently, and engage customers in dialogues. Word of mouth marketing saves companies money on advertising, which is expensive, and consumers routinely ignore.
Public relations can be quite effective at generating awareness and positioning products, but PR isn’t cheap. Occasionally a crisis may occur within a company and PR is required for crisis management to help manage the issue, and overcome the negative word of mouth. However, it’s pathetic when companies need to spend money on public relations to overcome negative word of mouth that stems from poor customer service and lackluster customer experiences.Read More
Everybody wants their brand to be talked about – and most of us have used social media to spread the word. But what would happen if you reversed the process?
I’m fairly certain it was Grenville Main, a master of the memorable phrase, who once referred to Twitter as the “talkback radio of the internet”. I recalled the comment when an article arrived in my inbox referencing research done by MIT into why some tweets do the rounds, and others don’t (thanks Blackland PR). Perhaps by studying what people are most inclined to chatter about, it’s possible to engineer a brand that is simpatico with our very human need to share – or at least to draw some conclusions about what might lift a brand’s social attraction.
The nine key factors that, according to the research, decide a tweet’s success are:
- Brevity – no surprises, given that 140 characters amounts to communications’ fast food. Made to snack quickly and often.
- Attention grabbing – the communication itself talks to something the reader is already interested in
- Inviting opinion – the best messages encourage interactivity. That makes them ‘socially useful’
- Humanity – messages that feel personal and that share experiences and reflections are shared by people who feel the same way or have experienced the same or similar feelings.
- Positivity – everyone loves good news
- Useful – people want to pass on information that helps others for all sorts of reasons – not the least of which is that it raises the estimation of them with their peer group
- Saving money – people want to see others benefit.
- Relevance – references to what’s happening “today” have an immediacy and a currency that suits this tweet today, gone tomorrow medium
- Narrative – we all love stories for their truths, their drama and their ending.
It’s interesting isn’t it to compare what people want to talk about and what companies want to talk about. You look at the list above and much of what emanates from the corporate world lacks the simplicity, humanity and optimism that is clearly so valued here.
The Blackland guys are absolutely right when they conclude that, “The results … show that the most successful communications are those that help people personally or socially.” So how should we conclude that brands need to communicate overall if they are to succeed socially? Here’s how I see it:Read More
One can use the Internet to:
1. Increase brand awareness
2. Reinforce the brand’s unique value proposition
3. Tell the brand’s story
4. Identify customers and build lists
5. Create a dialog with customers and potential customers
Here are the top 15 actions to take to build your brand online:
1. Create and actively maintain a blog to significantly increase search visibility, establish expertise and build a community, brand trust, and subscriber lists.
a. Close to 60% of the people seeking out a branded product online use a search engine to do so.
b. Make sure you include the most important search phrases in your posts. (Google keywords can help you with this.)
c. You must carefully think through how you will add meaningful content to the blog on a regular basis. Blogs need to be fed constantly or else they die.
2. As you build subscriber lists, send the subscribers email with meaningful content and links.
a. Develop a regular distribution schedule and stick to it.
b. Make sure to include your brand’s signature and web link in each email.
3. On the Internet, visuals/images matter. Make sure you use appropriate and powerful visuals to reinforce each blog post.
4. People watch 4 billion YouTube videos every day. 68% of video watchers share links to the videos. Create highly compelling videos that tell your brand’s story and post them on YouTube.
5. Use RSS feeds to distribute headlines, new content and notifications more broadly.Read More
There are two kinds of interaction in social webs – asking and telling. The traditional view of social influence is all about telling. The new view is more about asking, and carries with it a particular implication for what brand marketers want consumers to do. Ask, don’t tell.
Google is emblematic of this new view. A search on Google returns a list of Web pages ranked by relevance. The algorithms of relevance are proprietary, but a few core principles are known. Chief among them is the number of other Web pages that link to a page in the list – the more links, the higher the rank.
In measuring the number of links to a page, Google is applying the idea of asking. Google is not looking at how many times a page links itself to other pages, or ‘tells’ other pages about itself. Rather, Google is looking at the number of other pages pointing to a particular page, or ‘asking’ that page for information. Relevance is a function of inbound ‘asks’ not outbound ‘tells.’
Contrast this with an older idea that is the cornerstone of word-of-mouth as traditionally understood by brand marketers, that of two-step flow. Two-step flow posits that opinion leaders follow mass media to form their opinions, then along their opinions to followers who rely on them for guidance. Two-step flow doesn’t rule out asking as a conduit of influence, but it is mainly about leaders telling followers. Consequently, for years, brand marketers have focused on identifying and persuading opinion leaders, who can, in turn, tell others about their brands.
There is nothing wrong per se in trying to win over tellers not askers. A strong network of people with influence to spread the word is useful. Past word-of-mouth successes are testament to the impact of this approach. But whatever the past successes, this is not the best approach for the future.
For one thing, recent research has challenged the traditional understanding of how social contagion works. As network researcher Duncan Watts has put it, the contagious spread of influence “depends far more on the overall structure of the network than on the properties of the individuals who trigger it.” In other words, contagion happens because people are asking for it not because tellers are pushing for it. A breakout phenomenon satisfies what people are asking for, and once people are asking for it, anybody, not just highly influential tellers, can trigger a contagious outbreak of social influence.Read More
Many believe that brands will become less important as digital technology marches onward. They will surely be disappointed.
In fact, it is likely that branding will become more important in the digital age. With more media and more brands, consumers have to more to filter out. In order to cut through the clutter, marketers will have to work harder to build brands that inspire loyalty.
To understand why, let’s start at the beginning…
Creative Kings in a Consumer Age
After World War II, most of the globe went through several decades of seemingly boundless economic expansion. Consumers had ever more money to spend and business expanded to meet the demand. It was the dawn of the branding age and marketers strove to make their products popular with consumers hungry to join the consumer culture.
It was also an era of mass media. There was a limited amount of TV stations and programming was geared to mass audiences. Popular broadcasts like The Ed Sullivan Show in the US could reach more than 50% of the population.
In this environment, creativity was king. Advertising pioneers such as David Ogilvy and Leo Burnett developed powerful brand images that transformed the landscape of commerce. Great creative work combined with mass audiences proved to be a powerful combination. Brands evolved into consumer icons and built enormous profitability for the companies that owned them.
The Media Revolution
Cable and satellite technologies transformed media in the 80’s and 90’s. New, thematic channels chipped away at mass media, making it harder to reach audiences and increasing clutter. With the exception of special events like the World Cup and the Super Bowl, advertisers had to cobble together mass audiences by aggregating smaller ones.
In the new media environment, brand messages became harder to get across. Media fragmentation emerged as the new reality.Read More
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