Are you constantly looking at the number of fans / followers you have on Facebook and Twitter? Do you compare yourself to brands like you? …fretting that Brand X has 10,000 more fans than you? Do you constantly check your YouTube analytics to see how many subscribers you now have?
You’re focusing on the wrong metrics.
Get yourself away from the playground mentality of “I’ve got more friends than you” and starting thinking about what social media marketing should actually mean for your brand. It’s so easy (and human!) to fall into the trap of thinking that just because people ‘like’ you that they are engaged with you. We’ve all been there.
So, go and make yourself a well-deserved cuppa and take a look at a research study of American consumer brands in the social media from Vivaldi and Lightspeed. They looked at more than 60 companies and assessed customers’ brand affiliations, advocacy and sense of community. Their aim was to discover how the brand’s social media marketing activity did or did not create true value for the companies.
They have distilled the research into five main areas for consumer brands in social media. There’s a handy infographic (all the rage these days – check out the first ever Market Research Society infographics showcase, hosted by us!) showing the areas at the bottom of this blog post.
1. Advocates Trump Followers
The brands that had the most fans and followers weren’t necessarily the ones that were truly connecting with their audience. For example, Dunkin’ Donuts has 80% fewer Facebook and Twitter followers than Starbucks. However, Dunkin’ Donuts fans are 35% more likely to recommend the brand.
Whereas Starbucks spends its energy telegraphing its superiority (and by extension, its fans’ good taste) — “If it’s still not perfect, you must not be in a Starbucks” — Dunkin’ takes a more advocacy-driven approach.
2. Context Matters
Don’t just talk about the finer points of your new product format and expect your audience to care. Think about why it is relevant to them? People have limited time to interact with you and will only come back again if you are talking to them about something they care about. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? It’s amazing how many brands on Facebook lead with a custom tab talking about their product is now in a squeezy bottle.
“Product and packaging innovations do not help create relevance in this consumer’s daily life,” …What’s important is the bonding or “social context” during consumption.
3. Not Every Brand Should be Social
Mass-market brands that are positioned based on functional superiority, such as Gillette, aren’t likely to see much upside in social currency. The shaving brand inspires great loyalty: 96% of respondents in the Vivaldi-Lightspeed study tout Gillette’s good quality and reliability. So what more is there to say?
That may be a good thing for the Gillettes of the world. “Conversation might lead to a discussion of downsides such as price and alternative products and brands,” says Markus Zinnbauer, a director at Vivaldi. Yet Gillette has succumbed to the siren song of social tools in a series of supposedly humorous YouTube videos featuring cartoon characters giving tips on how to “manscape” your nether regions. Social isn’t for everyone.
4. Social Tools are a Means, Not an End
The study compares men’s deodorant brand Axe to beauty brand Clinique.
Axe knows how to push the pulse points of hormonal young men, from posting “censored” print ads of sexy women to virtual prank shows.
…but Axe’s attitude affects its audience deeper than is probably intended. They know that it’s all just a joke and don’t take it too seriously. The content gives them a laugh, but doesn’t affect their brand loyalty as much as Clinique do with their activity.
Clinique have a much more instructive approach, with YouTube how-to tutorials on how to apply makeup. This has earnt the brand a much stronger social currency.
“Educating and empowering users is part of our process,” says Emily Culp, VP of Clinique global digital. To do that, the company also chooses 20 “insiders” a year, customers who post candid, unedited product demos and critiques. The results more than speak for themselves.
5. Gimmicks Marginalise Trust
The study showed how Burger King’s infamous Online PR stunts to drop 10 friends on Facebook to get a free hamburger and the subservient chicken of a few years back haven’t really translated into loyal social media followers. They compared Burger King’s activity to Wendy’s “you know when it’s real” campaign (highlighting how its never-frozen patties are cooked to order).
BK’s ploys, created by ad stars such as Crispin Porter + Bogusky and the Barbarian Group, may do more for those agencies’ social currency than Burger King’s. “The BK campaign might be funny,” says Joachimsthaler, “but it doesn’t motivate me to have a hamburger at BK today.”
“Social currency is information shared which encourages further social encounters”.
“Social currency is the extent to which people share the brand or information about the brand as part of their everyday social lives at work or at home.”
We’ve been talking about social currency for quite a few years at Brass. Your brand’s information needs to be relevant and of value to be passed around. If you are talking to 16-24 year olds, you need to either make your content funny or make it exclusive (ensuring the person passing it on looks good to their friends).
The study by Vivaldi had some interesting findings about social currency:
• Our study shows that social currency significantly drives brand loyalty. Moreover, brands with a high social currency command a price premium.
• Social currency is a means, not the end; nor is it just about buzz or conversation. Rather it is about creating meaningful experiences around the brand.
• Which of the six levers in the image below are key to effectively create social currency varies between categories and their specific customer, consumer, and competitive context.
• The successful brands in our study strive to be an integral part of people’s daily lives by enabling them to connect, interact, and benefit from like-minded brand users.
Our study shows that social currency significantly impacts different aspects of brand
1. Across categories and brands, 53% of consumers’ brand explained Price Premium Brand consumers loyalty can be by social currency.
2. Users of brands with high social currency show a significantly higher willingness to pay a price premium (correlation=0.73).
This shows how important social currency is for brands in today’s social media world. However, not every brand can create social currency easily. It needs careful though. Vivaldi say that the results of their study suggest:
“Online buzz does not equal conversational value to customers. Only if conversations are meaningful to customers, brands will profit social currency among information being shared and the appreciation of others’ opinions.”
So, what are the main take outs all of this?
Four simple rules to follow when taking your brand into social media:
1. Look at the true metrics for your social media marketing activity – engagement, rather than just fans/followers
2. Don’t prattle on about your brand too much. Great, you have a new product out. Now ask your consumers about themselves.
3. Don’t be seduced by stunts or gimmicks only. These are fine to create some buzz, but ensure you are also adding value to your audience at some point in the journey.
4. Design your social currency carefully. Give them reasons to stand up and tell everyone else about how great they think your brand is.