For good or bad, people are influenced by their friends. Think of the last time you made a big purchase, like a car, a TV, or maybe your new smartphone. What factors contributed to your purchase decision? Did you get advice from friends and family or read reviews online? According to a recent Nielsen study and WOMMA member Keller Fay, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media sources, such as word of mouth recommendations from peers, friends, and family, above all other forms of advertising. Online consumer reviews are the second most trusted source of brand information and messaging, with 70% of global consumers interviewed saying they trust messages on this platform.
While social media can help brands achieve word of mouth on a large scale, it comes with its own set of challenges. Customers expect the same quality of care on your social platforms as they receive on your website or in your store.
Here are some best practices to help generate positive word of mouth for your brand in the social space.
Having a social presence isn’t a guarantee that fans will talk. But if you invest in your community and focus on providing value and excellent service, they’ll have something to talk about.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a tinkerer. When my mom wants to embarrass me in front of coworkers or friends, she pulls an old leather bound photo album from the bottom shelf of the coffee table and produces a snapshot of me in Superman undies standing over a jumble of parts that used to be our television. I’ve always thought that if something has screws, it’s meant to be taken apart.
This same passion to understand how things work inspired me to study biology and psychology. I wanted to know exactly how a tiny little bacterium could cause illness in a much larger organism. How does streptococcus pyogenes (the bacterium responsible for strep throat) cause a spike in temperature? What are the biological processes involved in regulating health and fighting illness? How do two people with the exact same symptoms report completely different health-states? In other words, what causes an individual to assume the sick role?
Fast-forward 35 years and I’m still tinkering. While my toolset has changed, I still enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together in new ways. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But the knowledge gained from that exploration is valuable regardless of the immediate outcome because it helps me understand the inner workings of the system and how its individual parts each contribute to the overall health of the organism.
About a year ago, I introduced myself to 22squared and to my belief that innovation is rooted in frustration. I’m a firm believer that innovative ideas start with frustration that leads to a desire to change. Frustration is, essentially, a symptom of illness: it’s an indicator that something isn’t working as desired. For some the frustration may be minor, and for others it could be debilitating. Just as a symptom can be interpreted in multiple ways in the assumption of the sick role, a frustration can have varying degrees of impact on an individual. Regardless of the degree of frustration, though, there is a common understanding that any given frustration is a non-normal state, and there is a shared desire to move away from illness and towards health.
Desire is just a feeling, though. A visit to the doctor’s office and the receipt of bad news – for example, “You have to lose 20 lbs. or you will continue to have high blood pressure” – may result in a desire to change, but it doesn’t always produce an action. Desire without action does not move us towards health. Innovative ideas without execution do not move us towards success.
Vijay Govindarajan and Chris Trimble of the Harvard Business Review (authors of Reverse Innovation: Create Far From Home, Win Everywhere) say an organization’s capacity for innovation is reflected by multiplying the organization’s creativity by its ability for execution. They use multiplying instead of adding because if either variable is zero, the capacity for innovation is zero. If we continue with the health analogy, an organism’s health can be reflected by multiplying its desire for wellness by its willingness to act.
As innovation at 22squared moves forward, we have to take the creativity around innovation that we’ve fostered over the past year and start to execute. In support of that effort, we’ve organized innovation and development under a single department that is better equipped to leverage the skills and resources that move us to execution. We’re able to do this because our leadership recognizes that innovation isn’t just about ideas, it’s about ideas that are executed. As a result, we’re moving towards the launch of an internal innovation site where members of the 22squared family can contribute to the Innovation Idea Pipeline and view progress across all active innovation projects. We’re also partnering with other innovation leaders in research and development to broaden our influence and expertise across a wider range of technologies. All of these efforts serve one goal: to strengthen our ability to execute and move great ideas to greater innovations.
Phone usage on the road is admittedly not the best practice to advocate, but let’s face it– we use our phones for everything now. Long gone are the days of printing out directions from Yahoo! Maps in size 18 font for a trip to a new destination– many of us no longer bother with any of the at-home preparation; we grab our phones, make sure we have enough battery life left, and head out the door.
GPS is arguably one of the most useful applications on a smartphone, allowing us the freedom to go wherever the wind takes us. However, one thing GPS navigation systems do not provide is information about the paths we are taking; construction, road blocks, sporadic traffic jams, and police checkpoints often catch many drivers by surprise– leading to frustration, apologies, and a lighter fuel tank.
Waze is a GPS application meant to combat the surprises that may pop up, claiming on its website to be the “world’s fastest-growing community-based traffic and navigation app.” Once installed on a smartphone, Waze goes to work gathering real-time data to update its database with anonymized information such as your speed and location. This crowdsourcing method gives Waze users the opportunity to share navigation issues and travel time without having to lift a finger, allowing for effortless contribution.
Users can also report accidents, speed traps, police, and even gas prices so that other users will be navigated accordingly– all hands-free, of course. These reports show up as alert bubbles on the navigation screen, which also displays the avatars of any friends close by (if they choose to be visible). The turn-by-turn voice navigation takes into account the current state of the roads, giving users the fastest route to their destinations– and even re-routing if there is a better path.
Of course, Waze also has social network integration. It connects with Facebook to give you the ability to track your friends and their locations, with a live map keeping all parties posted on each others’ travel statuses. Arrival times for meet-ups become less of a guessing game, as you can watch the progress of those on the road or check to see who has already made it to the destination. New functionality has also been added to help users carpool– a pick-up request can be sent and accepted, which would then automatically route the driver to the rider’s GPS location. If the rider isn’t using Waze, it’s no problem– a URL with a live map can be shared to keep everyone up to speed.
The makers of Waze have latched onto a pretty important concept when it comes to driving: Waze is often used to connect us to others, whether they be friends, family, or colleagues. This mindset has garnered them some 30 million users, all aimed at making mundane trips more streamlined and social. If we were able to, say, facilitate meet-ups in a similar fashion for those traveling to Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) to watch a game, or if we could harness the collaborative carpooling idea to help Red Brick (@RedBrickBrewery) patrons find their designated drivers, we could have something big on our hands as well.
The second important lesson to learn from Waze is that we need to be all-inclusive. All too often we get carried away with the shininess of our newest mobile phones and gadgets, and it becomes easy to forget the fact that not everyone has access to them. Remember how grandma switched back to her rotary phone after complaining about how she couldn’t feel any buttons on her smartphone? She probably doesn’t use any mobile apps, but when we journey onwards, we need to make sure we bring her with us, too.
Controlling a computer system with a wave of the hand may seem like a gimmick reminiscent of the fictional systems in Minority Report and Iron Man, but we may be reaching that technological milestone sooner than you think. At the end of May 2012, San Francisco-based startup Leap Motion (@LeapMotion) unveiled its Leap 3D motion control system, one that is making huge advancements in bringing the aforementioned systems to fruition.
The company claims that the Leap Motion controller is “200 times more accurate than anything else on the market”– and judging by the demo video (and an independent review by Wired), that claim seems to be true. The device features a series of small camera sensors that track the user’s gestures within an 8-cubic-foot space, with accuracy down to 1/100th of a millimeter.
With these incredible specs, you must be wondering how many limbs you would have to pawn off in order to acquire such a system. Surprisingly, all of this amazing technology fits into a controller the size of a USB flash drive, and is offered at the low price of $70 apiece.
Leap Motion solves one issue that has kept gesture control technology from being prevalent in society, namely, the amount of commitment required by the user. Let’s take into account Tony Stark’s J.A.R.V.I.S., for example. Conceptually, it is amazing– but the price of such a customized system would definitely be something to balk at, not to mention that the constant waving of the arms may result in a new variant of “Wii-itis.” With a constrained (yet precise) area of gesture tracking and a price tag akin to that of a fancy dinner for two, the Leap Motion controller definitely has potential to spread.
For one, PC maker ASUS has already jumped on the Leap Motion movement, with a select line of its “All-in-One” notebooks set to come bundled with the controllers later this year. Best Buy has also entered an agreement with Leap Motion, making the controllers available for purchase exclusively in U.S. Best Buy stores and online upon launch this spring.
Finding compatible applications to interface with the device should not be an issue, either– the company received more than 50,000 applications from developers wanting to test out the product and build apps, and roughly 12,000 of them have received their devices.
Let us take a moment to consider the implications of this technology in our own company setting. Not only would the developing applications mean tools for quicker mockups, proof of concepts, etc., for us to provide for our clients, it could be implemented in many of our clients’ stores. This could mean the end of sauce-covered menus at Buffalo Wild Wings, or stations in Publix that could use gesture recognition to translate sign language for those who are having a hard time communicating with the staff.
Intrigued yet? You should be. If the thought of this little wonder controller sparks any ideas, or if you want to try it out for yourself, let your ideas be known and stop by the innovation lab! We have just received our own Leap Motion controller, and we are anticipating great things to come from it.
If This, Then That. Everyone knows the meaning of this simple catchphrase. Doing one thing causes another thing to happen. It doesn’t get much more simple, right? Well, what if I told you that a team of developers has taken this basic logic to heart for the very purpose of making the Internet an easier place for you? If you are even remotely intrigued, then you may love IFTTT.
IFTTT has attempted to place the simple power of the if/then statement in the palm of your Internet-wielding hand. It uses straight forward metaphors in its branding to effortlessly guide users through its setup. You create a “recipe” by combining actions, or “ingredients,” from any of the 59 channels that they offer. The channels are popular web services such as social media sites, cloud-storage programs, email, and many more. Actions from the first channel (the “if”) then trigger actions from another channel (the “then”). A simple example of this formula goes like this: If I am tagged in a Facebook photo, then download that photo to my Dropbox. You can find thousands of recipes at IFTTT’s very own Recipe Browser. With the ability to create an endless number of recipes, the website quickly starts acting like your very own cyber-secretary.
The flexibility of the system makes IFTTT a very interesting automation device. The pitch makes it feel like a connection system between all of the Internet sites that you visit and use most often. While that is true, I found the most intriguing recipes are those that operate across multiple devices. This includes things like texting you when it is about to rain, finding a phone by emailing to it and initiating a call, and acting as a reminder system connected to a particular date or to calendar events. Smartphones can do many of these things in their own ways, but IFTTT offers a separate system that operates outside of any one platform.
The puzzle piece that may bring this system to full use is the ability for outside parties to create their own channels within IFTTT’s system. This promised expansion could open up the door for companies to launch their own tie-ins that could be used to bring in new customers or keep current customers informed of offers and deals. If companies have online services –promotions, newsletters, weekly ads, etc.– all they would need to do is supply the ability to link to these services in IFTTT. Users could then create recipes that utilize the company channel, linking the company deals and ads to a whole slew of other Internet services. Buffalo Wild Wings (@BWWings) could add channels that update when new sauces or promotions are added, allowing users to receive updates or spread the message automatically. They could even create their own IFTTT recipes, and then advertise them to spread their use and awareness, bringing in a completely new audience. The possible consumer expansion is really promising in this new environment.
IFTTT is great for personal use, keeping track of much of the content that you manage on the Internet. Even greater is its potential expansion into the consumer marketplace. When companies are able to fully integrate their services into the IFTTT ecosystem, it will become an expansion point for advertising and consumer awareness.
A long way we have come from only the top executives at the largest companies holding access to personal assistants. Much envied were these folks for having the equivalent of an extra set of hands to help manage their professional and personal lives.
Free tools like Google Calendar and Todoist have grown in popularity, digitizing the analog organization systems we had in place. As email became a topic of dissatisfaction, savvy professionals adopted the use of advanced email management tools to administer their cluttered inboxes. Beyond that, short of hiring a virtual assistant through Zirtual or outsourcing tasks and errands, professionals have had few options for help managing their increasingly complex business days. But with the sophistication of mobile applications and smarter utilization of data, this has all changed.
Apps like Tempo and Thread essentially fulfill many duties of a personal assistant. Tempo, the calendar app from SRI International, is powered by much of the artificial intelligence technology that was incorporated into Apple iOS’s Siri. Tempo powers the “smart calendar” by parsing through your contacts, emails and documents, then surfacing them in time for your calendar appointments – merely using the information in the calendar invite! (I liken this to an admin printing out all your relevant documents and handing them to you as you step into your meeting, quickly whispering any important details in your ear about the people in the room.) Additional features of the app include driving directions, flight tracking, and Foursquare and Yelp integration, which are again provided to suit the needs of the modern professional, and Tempo’s learning mechanism ensures that your experience with the app improves over time.
How many times have you pulled up an email in the middle of a call, perhaps with a client? Even outside of the office, when I receive a call from an old friend, I jump on my tablet to quickly scroll through her Facebook as we chat, reminding myself of her latest happenings before I ask a silly question. Thread, an Android app that rethinks caller ID, serves up the caller’s latest Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as you and the caller’s latest email and text exchanges, when you receive a call. The richer caller ID experience provides more context for the call.
While neither of these tools accomplishes anything beyond our individual capabilities, they do inject a welcome layer of efficiency into our daily routines. One brand currently doing this well is CARFAX. With their new myCARFAX app, they give consumers piece of mind by maintaining the health of their cars and, in the end, increasing their cars’ retail value. This strengthens the relationship between the CARFAX brand and their customer, and increases the value of their core product. As marketers, we need to start thinking about how we can apply this kind of utility to customer experience.
During the recent NHL lockout, the common theme amongst pundits was the league had alienated the fans (yet again) to the point that it could trigger an inescapable downward spiral to oblivion. Curling will take over as Canada’s national sport. USA market teams will crash and burn. Contraction! The end of hockey as we know it!
That talk all stopped when the first post-lockout game on NBC delivered the best regular-season rating in a decade. It wasn’t a fluke either. According to Nielsen, ratings are up 76% for 21 US franchises on various regional broadcasts. Fox is killing it more, posting ratings boosts of up to 108%. Nationally, viewership on the NBC Sports Network is up 36% vs. last year. This bonanza comes a year after the shortened NBA lockout season posted similar ratings jumps over previous years.
What all this means is very simple: Sports is everything proof.
Regardless of the issue- player scandals, slow economy, lockouts or pestilence- sports leagues are continuing to thrive. The reach of sports brands into society is so broad and touches so deep personally, it engages people in rare ways. Sports have the power to unite and divide on the scale of politics and religion. It’s not a passing trend or the next new thing. It was, is and will be an important and visible part of life.
That connectivity is where the true power lies in sports marketing. Building that bridge of transitive goodwill from brand to team to consumer via multiple mechanisms creates a long-term equity that is worth the investment. I’ve seen this personally with Buffalo Wild Wings. This past season we ran a sweepstakes for the Big Ten Football Championship (inclusive flight, hotel & tickets). The winner wanted to reach out personally to BWW to thank them for making it possible for them to go to the game. The resulting goodwill from that one interaction has now rooted a positive correlation and the long-term ability to influence behavior.
The key to remember as advertisers, though, is you need to be as invested as the fans. Sports marketing is all about harnessing passion. So, one-offs and jumping on bandwagons will not get you there. There are times when a team performances dip and certain indicators wane. But, brands shouldn’t question their commitments (maybe how much they are paying for a partnership, but that’s another issue). Whenever those questions pop up, my answer is always that regardless of ups and downs, brands should be looking for opportunities to engage fans through sports sponsorship and continue to build that equity. It is what leads you to that commonality with fans and paves the way for brand advocacy. Only then are you really tapping into the full potential of sports.
Robocop was incredibly efficient. An automated creation portending the future of a time-tested industry (police work).
The ad agency landscape is attempting a similar transformation, with various agencies merging the human art of brand storytelling with the power and speed of big data. Digital agencies are building up their skills in consumer insights and craft; these haven’t always been their strength. Meanwhile, traditional agencies are building up their analytics, development, wireframing and digital production abilities; these haven’t always been their strength. The robots are trying to become more human, and the humans are trying to become more bionic.
Iron Man. The Six Million Dollar man. We’ve always idealized the power of man and machine coming together.
In reality, some things can be automated, and some things can’t. We can automate a Facebook publishing schedule; we can’t automate the gorgeous Instagram photo that gets 1,000 likes (or a TV script, for that matter). We can automate affinity metrics to see what else our brand fans like; we can’t automate a good focus group that reveals surprising insights. Those kinds of conversations and breakthroughs are entirely human. We can automate ongoing KPI reports; we can’t automate the takeaways and implications we see in those numbers.
But each side can learn from the other.
The human side is slow, and can learn to be faster. One way to do this is to apply code logic to our workflow: IFTTT. “If this, then that.” Simple and instantaneous, IFTTT logic can accelerate our human processes, like when we decide to increase paid media to support a piece of content. It can eliminate case-by-case approvals that would normally take a day or two. The world moves faster than that. So our slow human decisions (and meetings) need to become more automated. IFTTT policies can help a brand keep pace consumer activity: real-time marketing.
On the flip side, the science of it all can get more human. If the “quantified self” movement has taught us anything, it’s that not every number matters. (How many yogurts did you eat this year? Who cares?) Determining which numbers matter and what they mean is pure judgment and prioritization, provincially human tasks. As my friend Brandon Murphy likes to say, “A brand planner will see something very different in the data than a media planner will,” or a social media expert, or a CFO … exact same data, very different insights. Big data’s only value is in how we humans use it.
Striking this balance is the future of the integrated agency. The emotional campaigns we create can be told faster and better. So the mass of data we have at our fingertips – from social media data, to custom segmentations, to Simmons (or MRI) runs – can reveal not just facts, but human truths.
Story plus science. Message plus mechanics. “If this, then … make your customers smile.”
If you’re a data person, show your reports to the storytellers; they’ll see something you don’t. If you’re a storyteller, ask for more info; the facts may surprise you, even inspire you. This combination will make your projects better and faster, and your campaigns more talk-worthy.
Sure, everybody marveled at Robocop’s abilities. But if you remember the ending, his greatest victory came when he made a decision based on emotion.
(PS – If you’d like to automate your own social media behaviors, check out this simple site, appropriately titled “IFTTT.” https://ifttt.com)
On Monday, March 25, Facebook launched a new feature that claims to improve the quality of conversation on brand pages. Much like YouTube’s current commenting system, the comments with the most interactions will be pushed to the top of every conversation thread. It will also be easier to reply to specific comments and therefore have smaller conversations within a broader post without having to tag the user to indicate the response is for him/her.
This “Replies” feature will help community managers stay on top of comments that are getting a lot of buzz and attention by other fans, and will highlight the most relevant conversations.
Currently, all users will be able to reply directly to comments on Pages that have opted in. Although this new feature is only available on desktop now, it’s rumored to be implemented on mobile in the future.
Here’s how to opt in:
1. At the top of your Page, click Edit page
2. Go to Manage Permissions
3. Select Turn On Replies
You can opt in to Replies through the Page admin panel. Once you opt in, you can still opt out, but all Pages will have Replies enabled on July 10, 2013.
If you don’t want to opt in yet but would like to check it out live, here are a few examples:
Have you turned on your Replies feature yet? Tell us what you think!
You think you’re busy? Meet Elon Musk.
For the uninitiated, he was a co-founder of PayPal to make his first billion. Now, he is the co-founder and CEO of three – THREE – companies that are tackling enormous breakthroughs. Tesla, which is manufacturing the sexiest electric cars on the planet (IMHO). SolarCity, which is one of the largest manufacturers of solar panels in the country. And SpaceX, which is building private rockets to service NASA space stations, with the goal of eventually colonizing Mars. Sound crazy? Only a little.
I saw Elon’s keynote interview at SXSWi earlier this month in Austin. He spent most of his time talking about SpaceX; obviously the project he’s most passionate about. He has the mind of an engineer, combined with a restrained, measured, deliberate, yet disarmingly frank manner of storytelling. He’s obviously very in touch with the day-to-day details of his businesses, and has a knack for making audacious dreams seem realistic. Especially SpaceX.
He has an almost comically lofty goal. Most CEOs have a 30,000 foot view; he has a 30 million foot view. He’s concerned that 500 million years from now, humans won’t be able to live on earth any more. He thinks we need to become an inter-planetary species. This is non-fiction. And oddly, not a joke. At all.
At SXSW, Elon Musk was a rock star. The 1,000 person capacity room was jammed, and his talk was simulcast in two other rooms, each seating 1,000 plus.
Here are three takeaways from Mr. Musk that might apply to our own terrestrial lives, jobs, and brands.
1) Think big. No, bigger. An audacious goal like colonizing Mars inspires people to dream. When you think “what’s the vision” for your company, think as big as you possibly can. It inspires your own people, and gets legions of fans dreaming, talking, believing, and working. You may say to your team, “On this project, we’re shooting for the moon!” – but that’s not good enough anymore. You need to shoot for Mars.
2) In the Q&A part of the interview, someone tweeted in a question that stumped him. “What has been your biggest mistake?” Elon Musk, and thousands of viewers, sat in awkward silence as he considered his answer. (Would he talk about his first three rocket launches that each crashed into the rocky shores of the Pacific? Or something more personal, like his three ex-wives? No …) His final answer had to do with hiring people. He said his biggest mistake was over-valuing brilliance of the mind, hiring for brains and not accounting for the heart enough. In other words, in the past he had underestimated how much it matters to hire good-hearted, passionate people. He has learned how critical that is to success. A company is its people. A brand is its people. Fans will talk about great organizations, filled with passionate, true-hearted people. Great people build great teams, capable of great things.
3) Oh, and he ended with this: have kids. They’re ok with having a busy, multitasking parent. They see the world anew, and strike joy into the heart. It seems that inspiring people need to find their own inspiration. Even someone as busy as Elon Musk.