What Should Be The Outcome of Brand Conversations in Social?

Do big brands actually have conversations with the people/customers/prospects that friend, follow and fan them? Before we answer that, let’s talk about the dynamics of what we the consumer “feel” if a brand does talk to us. Happiness? A sense of belonging or inclusiveness? What should happen after the like?

What does a consumer want? Do they want content? Do they want to share what the brand says? Do they want something? Do consumers really want the following conversations?

Tom: “Maybe I should buy Famous shoe brand x shoes and walk to work, it would be quicker!”

Famous Shoe Brand: 2 hours later “Hey Tom, how’s it going today? What’s new?”

Tom: 5 minutes later “Not much, got in late today because of traffic”

Famous Shoe Brand: 2 hours later “Really? You’re in LA, was it the 405? What about taking the Santa Monica (10) Freeway east, the Hollywood (101) Freeway north through the Cahuenga Pass?”

Tom: 5 minutes later “Hey yea I never thought about that! Got any free shoes?”

Famous Shoe Brand: 24 hours later…”Nope sorry, but check out our new video and share it with your friends!”

According to eMarketer, Marketers know that building a Facebook page is not just about collecting “likes” but building relationships with  fans and getting them to share and discuss brand-related content.

Is the above simulated conversation the basis for a relationship? No, but maybe it’s a start. What might be Tom’s impression of the shoe brand now?

Social has created a situation in which brands  are now on the hook more than ever before for creating compelling, sharable, consumable digital content. Yes, at the end of the day engagement wins and brands are competing every day for the eyeballs of their digital consumers who have or haven’t liked their brand. In return they will get the interest and consideration of the user/consumer. Thus brands are banking on  consistent, high level, content posted daily being relevant and interesting; and that in return it leads to what?

Leads, conversions and sales right? Let’s not lose sight on why brands are doing this. But those same brands need to understand what the  digital, social, consumer’s expectation and motivation is as well.

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Talk to people like you would talk to people-It works

I was just looking at recent tweet from someone I follow and was initially going to unfollow him because I thought he tweeted too much about himself. Until I realized after I had looked at a few of his previous tweets, why I followed him in the first place. It wasn’t who he worked for, or that he might be able to help me one day, as a primary reason of why I initially followed him. What it was, was that 1) he had a personality 2) he wasn’t pushing a product and 3) he actually provided some value from time to time. Lastly,  the tweets had a flavor to them, a no holds barred flavor to them. I think I might have forgotten about that.

Brands could learn something from this

There are 2 lines from a piece in Forbes about the why in social marketing that sum up what I’m trying to get to here…

“The mainstream of communications is now controlled by users, not distributors.”  and “You can’t just show up at social conversations with your bullet points and promotional offers. You need to be able to talk to people like, well, like you would talk to people.”

We have or I have talked about and written about these 2 points in the past, but I guess when you read in in Forbes it resonates a bit more. But it hit home when I started to think about the why I follow someone on Twitter. The why of why I engage. It’s not because I want something, well yea I do want something but its not a product or a service, or a gift or a coupon or lastly your ego.

What I want is to talk to someone, to connect with them and be able to call them a friend and a colleague maybe at some point down the line. Nothing really more than that. Whatever happens beyond that is a bonus for both of us. Brings back memories of the line, “Don’t try and make out with me before you’ve even learned my name.”

Brands are you listening? SMB’s are you listening?

There’s a reason Maslow had “belonging” right in the middle of his hierarchy pyramid..We want to connect with people, and with what make them unique. That doesn’t mean we have to force it. We are looking for personalities and their similarities to ours. We’re looking for people we have something in common with and yes the fact of the matter is… We do want to find our tribes.

Recommendations have nothing to do with loyalty!

Just saying that out loud sounds crazy but check this out.

So let’s get this straight. If a brand hooks it’s customers up with coupons, and a customer takes them, because that’s what they are demanding, does that mean they are telling you or us that you can have their business? I think so.  It means so long as you keep rewarding the customer- they will be your customer for life. Or at least until a better offer comes along. What does that have to do with loyalty and recommendations? It means as a consumer I will recommend your product as long as you reward me. It means I will be loyal to you as long as you give me free stuff, or coupons, or a deal. It means that I may recommend you solely on the basis of how much you give me and not necessarily on how good the brand experience was. I may recommend you because of customer service, but loyalty has nothing to do with it. It means and it has meant for quite some time, that loyalty can be bought and our “likes’, our follows and “friendships” can go to the highest bidder.

Social will give you the opportunity to nurture and marinate the customer experience but if you don’t give today’s consumer something, then they will walk. And you thought people on Facebook just “liked” your brand because they liked your brand? Please.

Consumer Empowerment or Why Brands Can’t Afford to Falter

Danny Brown is right.  2 days ago he wrote a post about brands that drive  customers away. Essentially saying/asking, why give your customers, the loyal one’s, a reason to leave. I loved his examples and his post is a quick must read. But let me take his thought a step further.  Recently WebTrends released a whitepaper in which they analyzed the website traffic of Fortune 100 websites based on ‘unique visits’. The study revealed that 68% of the top 100 companies were experiencing a negative growth in unique visits over the past year.

Now we might easily attribute that to the rise of social and particularly to Facebook possibly, but what the research revealed was that Facebook was gaining tremendous popularity as a destination to connect with brands online, and is increasingly chosen over the websites of certain companies. Partly because when customers went to the websites-those sites were still stuck in 1990’s “brochure-ware” mode.

Do you want to give a customer or potential customer, an easy out and an easy path to the competitior? Beyond Danny’s examples of bad customer service experiences, make their initial destination location and landing page user experience a bad one and that should do the trick.

Though there are websites sustaining traffic in spite of Facebook, I’ve said all along that when Facebook catches up with an e-commerce solution that makes the brand experience simple and efficient,  the corporate website is done. This is not an if, it’s a when, and it’s already happening.  When we add mobile and mobile social to the mix, the old adage of you never get a second chance at a first impression will have never loomed more large.

It is time for brands and retailers to understand that it’s not neccessarily about surviving online with a website that has a multitude of itabs that point you to all it’s web properties, it’s more about understanding why people seek out your web property in the first place. What does your user want and expect from your brand online? If you’re a commerce site, or you sell product online, then why complicate the landing page with a corporate look and feel and experience? I don’t care about who your board of directors are! But I do want to possibly buy your product. Make it simple. Want to get ahead of the curve? Then you need to understand, TODAY how mobile and social play into the user experience, you MUST  measure and improve the  performance of all your social, mobile and web entities-KNOW WHAT YOUR USERS WANT AND EXPECT.

Survival for brands and retailers will now be predicated on a customer expectation that is high, seamless, one click in theory, and will eventually be one site in nature. Ok so if we take into account Danny’s post that brands are doing everything they can sometimes to drive their loyal customers away and visits to corporate sites are down-what is happening?

Consumer empowerment is what is happening. Choice is happening.  And brands not recognizing the new age of the educated and enlightened consumer, and moving slowly to adapt, is what’s happening. Stop getting caught up in the minutiae of why you’re moving so slow. Let’s go.

Transparency-Where are you drawing the line?

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Susan (Kang) Nam, aka @pinkolivefamily in Twitter asked the following question late today on Twitter: Point of transparency = where do u draw ur line? I said, The line has been drawn in the sand.  It’s changing fast.  Don’t believe me? Read David Armano’s latest post.