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Category: Branding and Social Media

Branding and Social Media

Brand Voice In The Social Media Age

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Brands today obsessively seek massive social followings. The driver of that social activity is content marketing. Today most content marketing is nothing more than disguised brand advertising–and customers and consumers mostly ignore it. To gain a massive following in social channels requires a sophisticated understanding and disciplined application of Brand Voice.

Brand Voice is simply the quality of the brand’s presence in the marketplace. At every interaction with the audience, the Brand’s voice (the manner in which it communicates its purpose, values, reputation and experiences) must be created and managed with precision.

That means, marketers have a greater responsibility to not let the voice of their brand be at the whim of the latest creative or style trend, appear sloppy, inconsistent, and mindless.

Leading brands always consider how customers and consumers will receive their blogs, websites, social media channels, and content creation output. In the social media age, this is one area in the branding ecosystem that must be spot on without compromise.

Brand Voice is everything and the only thing.

In speaking to another person, your tone of voice is not what you say, but how you say it. How well your communication comes across determines how well others will respond to what your saying.  It’s exactly the same for brand communication.

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Branding and Social Media

Brands Are Built On Intensity, Not Volume

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Speculation remains on what a “fan” is worth to a business. In light of that, it’s important for marketers to revisit the difference between volume and intensity when thinking through the value a ‘fan’ brings to a brand.

Many commentators in the social universe it seems to me remain beguiled by quantity. The more liked you are, they seem to think, the more valuable you are potentially. Not so, of course. It costs nothing to say “like”. And in many cases I would venture to add, it means nothing and adds nothing.

Intensity though is quite a different metric – because it speaks to commitment and the bottom-line results of that commitment rather than just impressions. Intense fans buy the brands they feel strongly about. Money changes hands.

Intensity also defies volume. If you have customers who feel intensely committed to your brand, then you can have a much smaller, much less impressive number of them. Apple doesn’t have the biggest market share in a lot of the sectors it participates in, but it has perhaps the world’s most intense fans. And if a good percentage of those committed people only buy your brand or purchase predominately from you, then they are actually worth much more commercially than the hundreds of thousands of people who like you and move on without even a sideways glance at the cart.

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Branding and Social Media

Brand Value And Facebook Likes

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Aegis Media has conducted an interesting experiment to identify the value of the number of “likes” a brand has on Facebook. Its basic conclusion is that a high number of likes do help improve brand perceptions. But that raises a chicken and egg question. Where do the likes come from in the first place?

Aegis Media teamed up with Jon Jachimowicsz and Joe Gladstone, academic researchers from the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, to conduct an experimental design project using a made-up brand called “Ashwood Furnishings.” They created a storyline about the company’s expansion from the UK to the U.S. on the occasion of their 150th anniversary. Research participants in the U.S. were asked to provide their views on the brand based on its Facebook page, but different groups saw different numbers of likes on the page they saw

While the researchers admit that there is a lot of variability in the results, it is pretty clear that more likes do translate into higher brand perceptions and purchase intent. The researchers ascribe the effect to herding and conclude:

This suggests that likes generate an unconscious and immediate effect, similar to any number of cues in the ‘real’ world.

Due to the fact that some analysis of the raw data suggested diminishing returns to the number of likes, the authors further state:

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Branding and Social Media

Brand Advocates Drive Word Of Mouth

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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.

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Branding and Social Media

What Makes A Brand Worth Sharing?

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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:

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