Tag Archives: B2C

The Rise of the new Social Shopper

Image Credit: Flickr

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When we think about how we used to make online purchases, its amazing how far we’ve come from the ‘Click to Buy’ transaction a few years ago.  Social commerce has brought the opportunities to make the emotional connection with the vendor before we buy. The new way of classifying goods for sale democratises data, allowing it to be shared with our friends and colleagues. 

Good marketing campaigns get much further reach and a greater awareness than ever before, and peer recommendations encourage further sales.

The challenge that marketers have is our current mind-set.  We’re unsure what’s happening to the economy.  When will it recover?  Will it recover?  How are we going to manage right now.  Our survival instinct kicks in, we tighten our belts and we stop purchasing the very things that marketers are trying to get us to buy.  We search for more affordable things – and this drives our behaviour. 

We use comparison websites, we surf channels for the best deals.  Our purchase decisions are all driven by the bargains we can get.  Consumers are often not making the decision to buy something in the shops – the impulse to buy is delayed until they have done some research online, read the reviews about the product before they make their decision.

The way we shop has changed too.  There are 3 roles that consumers fall into:

  • The end user:  For them shopping is done almost exclusively online.  They shop from home and they use price comparison websites extensively
  • The shopper:  They walk around town, visiting shop by shop to see what’s on offer.  They then use the web to see if they can get a better deal online
  • The buyer:  They buy physical items in real shops.  Yes, they’ll shop around, but they make the purchase at a physical store.  Its a real experience for them

The challenge for the marketer is that the power has shifted from the brand to the consumer.  The consumer makes the decisions about where, when and how they will shop.  With over 300 million applications for smartphones and tablet devices like the iPad, media has shifted from Marketing media to My media, to Our media (through sharing).  The right technology allows consumers find the best product for them and buy it at the right brand.  It allows them to build a relationship with these brands. 

So how do you break through all of your competitors, and the competitive clutter to target your audience with relevant messaging from the brand?  how do you enlist your brand advocates to spread the word on your behalf?

Brand advocates are really important in your marketing and advertising efforts.  Getting a good dialogue with your brand evangelists as I talk about in my book is key to broadening your message out beyond the first tier of connections.  Your message gets shared and amplified.

Factor in these 5 concepts to connect with your customer.

  • Every customer has a lifestyle which goes way beyond your product.  Study their lifestyles to really understand how to market to them.  If you know your customer

    well, and know their lifestyles, then you will know what they want to buy/

  • As a marketer, you have an opportunity to delight customers by providing timely and relevant content in the right place – on the right device.  Make sure your content is compelling and interesting.
  • Social Coupons which can be shared – and can go viral are much better than paper based coupons.  They have a huge reach and return.  See the reach that Threshers had with their very successful viral coupon campaign and the associated commentary here and here wondering whether it was a genuine mistake or a fake viral campaign
  • Consumer promotions and brand advertising work well together and have a higher return that just a TV campaign on its own.  Think about a co-ordinated approach similar to the Old Spice US marketing campaign
  • Give them the campaigns that they want- in the form factor they want – on the device that they want.  Don’t make them change their behaviour to suit you

 

Eileen is a social media consultant and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business

Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach. 

 

Finding the perfect Meerkovo Ambassador

Some companies ‘get’ social media and understand the integrated approach to blending traditional and digital marketing in order to get the widest possible reach. Compare the Market price comparison website gets it right on so many fronts.  They are hiring a Meerkovo ambassador and have created an integrated campaign to recruit an ambassador for the summer season.  This ambassador will attend major events, communicate using social media channels and extend awareness of the Compare the Market brand

In addition to the YouTube advert asking for applicants, they have also submitted traditional print applications (in the Sunday press), Have an active Twitter account, a YouTube Channel and Facebook page.  All are updated regularly, all have great engagement.

They’ve got a great job application page on the  Meerkovo web page too…

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Users have been submitting applications to become the ambassador in YouTube.  have a look at: http://youtu.be/08O1k0FxFok and http://youtu.be/Nq_jKsmpOj0 http://youtu.be/bEtbxUMxy6Q for a few examples or go directly to Meerkovo.com and complete your application form.  Warning – applications close today!

 

You might think that this is a little bit of overkill for advertising for a job at a company.  This campaign, web estate and co-ordinated approach has cost quite a bit both in web design, time and effort to reinforce the message and find the perfect ambassador.  And it’s only for a 6 month engagement.

But look at the awareness that this has generated. 

There’s a virtual army of enthusiasts out there, keen to spread the message about the brand.  Followers and friends will be exhorted to vote for each candidate – spreading the news even further.  And the campaign is repeatable too.  The engagement lasts for this year only.  A guaranteed way to generate new clicks and raise awareness even further.

This is a totally brilliant approach to social media and done in a really effective co-ordinated way and well worth an award.  Its truly Simples… as Aleksandr Orlov says Smile

 

It’s about the discount–not the relationship

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I found an interesting post on Nasdaq today talking about the differences in what companies think that their customers want, compared with what their customers actually want from them.  IBM carried out a study and talked to more than 1000 consumers – asking them how they used social media.  Company executives were also asked their opinion about why they though consumers interacted.  There are some interesting callouts from the study which seem to contradict the way that we think we use social media:

 

  • Consumers use social networks to stay in touch with family or friends
  • Consumers use social media sites to find discounts and for purchases
  • Companies feel that they are under pressure to engage with their customers
  • Companies believe that consumers hope to feel part of the community by this type of engagement

 

This is all very well in the B2C space, where, as consumers we’re searching for the best deals around.  This is how Groupon has become so successful. 

Groupon offers discounts (and earns its revenue by taking a fee of 50% of the Groupon offer price plus VAT).  Groupon has a way of retaining their customers.  Have a look at what happens when you try to unsubscribe! http://www.groupon.com/unsubscribe 

Loyalty, offers, discount and deals matter in the B2C space.  But what what about B2B?

With B2B relationships are important.  With B2B, companies rely on their partner network to sell their services, products and licenses.  I think B2B connections are all about relationships.

Sure, companies can offer their partners suppliers discounts and offers – but I don’t think that’s the only reason that partners connect.  Business partners need information, news, and roadmap knowledge so that they can tailor their own businesses to align with the direction of the company.  If they don’t have this early information, then a partner could invest in creating a solution offering which could be aligned with a product that is about to be sidelined or sunsetted.  An investment error like this could be a significant issue for a small business – much more than a potential partner service, discount or free offer.

Customer connections matter.  Relationships matter.

If you’re only aiming for a light touch or one time engagement with your customer, then a special offer will work wonders.  It will initially get people through your door.  It’s the relationship that you have with the customer after that first contact that might keep them coming back.

And that’s all about how you make the customer feel.  Part of a community that receives discounts might be the relationship that keeps them coming back to you.  Ask Groupon…

Image credit: Flickr

Getting paid to tweet about products?

I’m encouraged that the UK Office of Fair Training are clamping down on Tweeps  and bloggers that are paid to be effusive about products whilst not admitting that they receive payment.  The use of Twitter reaches new heights for communication (there were 6,939 Tweets per second sent on January 1st according to the Twitter blog).  People are communicating more, and celebrities have a huge set of followers.  So should they append tweets with ‘ad’ or similar to show that they have been paid to do this?

In companies like Microsoft, bloggers and Tweeps receive a salary, so it’s natural that they would enthuse about company products.  Their opinions are (generally) their own and they put a personal perspective to the standard PR campaign about the product.  But celebrities don’t tend to work for companies so is it right that they get paid to talk about consumer products.

Look at the TV adverts.  The voice over, or the ad itself shows celebrities talking about the product.  They don’t explicitly say that they are being paid to advertise the product.  We’re intelligent enough to assume that they are.  So why do the OFT need to get Tweeps to ‘explicitly state’ that they are promoting products.  Surely we all just assume that they are being paid when they enthuse.  or are we assumed to be so dim. that we blindly assume that they love these items AND have been paid for them?  Did all of those women actually buy those dresses they wear at the Golden Globe awards or the Oscars?  Surely not…

But does the fact that these celebrities endorse brands, and enthuse about them mean that  we’re going to be more influenced by them and buy goods?  We’re much more likely to buy products recommended by our peers (figures vary from twice to  4 times more likely to do this).  But are we more likely because a celebrity endorses the brand.

Do we now class these celebrities our peers and our friends just because we follow them on Twitter? 

There are new rules for online advertising that are coming out in March and they now include User Generated Content (UGC) on web sites.  Here’s a snip from the code

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When the new code comes out in March 2011, will Tweets from paid celebrities be included in the CAP remit?  Will it change the way that Facebook page campaigns work.  It will be interesting to watch things develop…

Perhaps I’m too cynical – but I’m less likely to buy something that a celebrity has endorsed  – whether they are paid for endorsing the product or not.  I’d much rather consider something that one of my first degree connections has enthused about. 

Or AM I too cynical?? Smile

 

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Proactive Twitter support from BT

I’ve praised BT in my book about their attitude towards social media and how they effectively use it for customer service.  Well, not only do they have reactive support towards queries and complaints (they listen for mentions of their name on Twitter) they also do proactive follow in care.

I’ve had problems with my broadband for a few months now, with intermittent outages and reduced download speeds and I noted my issues by web submission followed by this Tweet. BT  responded really quickly on Twitter, sent an engineer round and I had service back within a few days.

This morning I got the Tweet below.  BT were proactively checking up to see if my broadband was ok.

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Actually, my broadband is a bit slow, but up constantly.  I reported the change in download speeds, got the other tweet on the screen grab above followed by a phone call from an engineer.

That’s really proactive service – and all over Twitter.

Social media can work really well in customer service situations.  Companies can really get close to their customers and engage directly with them for the issues.  Adding proactive follow up can only enhance the customers experience and improve perception about the brand. 

However, this customer service plan needs to be implemented alongside the existing customer service process and seamlessly incorporated with all of the other ways to connect.  The customer can then choose the way that they want to talk to the company, switch between modes of communication without loss of information, whilst moving towards a satisfactory customer conclusion.  My communications with BT so far have included SMS Text message, Twitter, phone, face to face and web.   The experience hasn’t been too bad, although in each of the face to face visits I’ve had, there has been a little breakdown in communication.  The engineers weren’t fully briefed on the complete fault history.  A small hurdle – easily fixed.

But overall, the follow up tweet has really impressed me and My perception of BT is so much higher than it would be if I’d received a damn satisfaction survey assuming all was hunky dory.  Nice one BT Smile

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2.2% Hard-core Tweeters generate 58.3% of traffic

I’m fascinated with growth graphs – especially graphs that show when something has reached it’s tipping point and is about to get ‘BIG’ Sysomos have done some great analysis of this and have published some stats. Here’s what’s happened to Twitter last year:

Twitter Statistics 2010 Growth in Accounts

The tipping point for Twitter obviously happened at the end of 2008.  Before then, only those in the know were using Twitter, it hadn’t gone mainstream yet.  I know the end of 2008 was when the BBC started to talk about Twitter – always a sign that a product has hit the mainstream when the BBC start to talk about it.  (The same think happened with podcasts a year or so before them).

But look at the explosion in new accounts created in 2009.  Lots of these are multiple bot accounts.  Applications like Hootsuite, CoTweet and TweetDeck allow you to switch accounts and publish the same Tweet from multiple accounts.  This shows up as buzz in sentiment monitoring tools and gives the client a warm feeling that the money he’s investing in Twitter implementation is worthwhile (<wry smile/>)

But others have started to create Twitter accounts.  As small businesses realised that Twitter (and especially Twitter search) can be Very Good for Getting You Noticed.  Hundreds of small businesses now use Twitter to connect (search for cupcakes, gourmet food and pork pies to see what I mean)  This has caused the explosive growth as millions more Twitter accounts appear. 

The growth in meaningful profiles, web URL’s and descriptions have also grown amongst genuine users (not the bots)

Twitter Statistics 2010

and has also dramatically increased in 2010.  if you’ve had a profile for a while, you’re one of 4.7% as people who created a profile before January 2009 only accounted for 4.7% of the total Twitter population.  You’re obviously thought leaders if you’ve used Twitter for some time (and nabbed the shorter account names too!)

And just over a fifth of users post 90% of Tweets

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But don’t worry if you’re not prolific.  There are thousands of accounts out there that have been grabbed (usually for big brands who didn’t get there first) These Tweet squatters are waiting to sell on the accounts and are inactive.

The average number of Tweets per account is still one – so don’t worry if you Tweet once a week and wonder if you need to do more… There are millions of other accounts doing exactly the same. Smile

Full report and more images on the Sysomos blog

 

Reflections on 2010

I was going to make this post a whiz through the social media tools and give a few predictions for 2011.  I’m also going to reflect on the social media features that stuck out for me through my own journey through the year, the good and the bad and why these topics will need to be a focus for 2011 if you want to succeed in your social media marketing activities.  Bruce wrote a great post about what went right and wrong for him in 2010, but I think I’ll save my personal reflections for another post in 2011 and build on my post in 2009.  So this one is about 5 social media themes that I think will matter in 2011…

  • Social Web sites

More and more companies have included a social component to their websites.  Whether that’s an embedded Twitter feed or social buttons on a web page or blog, web sites have become more engaging.  And with search including social status messages and fees, real time search helps your SEO and rankings.  Social searching will find your site without any extra SEO  additions to the web page.

  • Crisis management

Large and small companies alike don’t know how to handle PR Crises often resorting to ‘delay. deflect, defend’ tactics that they’ve done in the past.  Yahoo!, who should know better had a wobble when news leaked out that it’s delicious bookmarking services was going to be sunsetted.

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Without a viable alternative (Microsoft played around with a tagging service a couple of years ago), what would happen?  Delicous inicated on its blog that there may be a home for it outside the company but the search engine land blog had confirmation that this was unlikely and techcrunch reported that Yahoo had devalued delicious significantly if they were actually going to sell it!  not a good move

Having an effective crisis management plan in place would have significantly diluted the impact of this news – and having a good set of employee guidelines would minimise the impact of the leaks… Fail…

  • Lead Generation

There are a couple of interesting companies that have used Facebook to generate leads outside of the B2C space.  Forrester Research, for example has a fan page on Facebook which seems to be at odds with it’s B2B corporate image.  However, events and videos are linked to from Facebook, there are links to YouTube videos and there are reports you can download for free without a subscription. This is a really effective way of demonstrating that Facebook can actually be used for B2B successfully and acknowledges the blending of our work life and social life.  Nice one Forrester.  A great way of turning page visits into leads with a content rich, compelling and engaging Facebook Page.   Other B2B companies that use Facebook pages for leads are Cisco (who also initiate their graduate recruitment via Facebook as do Ernst & Young), Gartner, Hubspot and Dell

  • Location based applications

Facebook Places, Gowalla, Foursquare have all been talked about this year due oto privacy concerns, but they are a great way for B2C advertisers to tempt folks into the building with the promise of a coupon, discount or special offer.  Adding geolocation services to your application means that you’ll build a much richer application, and bring the community together at events and gatherings – only if the application is well written of course. I think that social commerce applications will come to the fore in 2011 – perhaps a deal with Groupon and Facebook places perhaps.

Do I use them?  Hardly at all.  I’m busy interacting with folks on another medium like Twitter or Facebook to collect another foursquare badge…

  • The rise of mobile

This is best explained by this infographic from the Flowtown blog

If you’re focusing on B2C, you need to be on Facebook, you need to have a mobile app and you need to take advantage of geo-location services.  There are over 4.5 billion mobile devices out there, many with a data plan.  Smartphones are the way to interact with your customers and allow them to connect with each other.  If you’re running a social commerce site, you need to be here…

Roll on 2011.  There are some exciting times ahead Smile  Happy New Year!

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How to spot a social media veteran

… apart from their age that is Smile

I spotted this over on the smart blog  They pulled up some great findings from over 6,500 respondents and compared those who have been using social media for a few months and those who have been using it for a few years.  The findings are quite interesting.  Here are the bullet points showing some of the top line results.

  • Veterans invest more in social media,
  • Veterans are more likely to have support from their leadership.
  • Veterans are more likely to diversify their tools.
  • Veterans use social media for more than just marketing.
  • Veterans are more likely to listen.

I particularly like the last point.  Often I attend meetings with the Agency that is tied in to delivering Agency work and PR for the client itself, and in an effort to demonstrate how much they know, they mug the whole business meeting, with buzzwords, jargon and ideas about “viral”  often, listening is all I can do – I can’t get a word in edgeways.  I let them run their course, and take notes.  Then I get on with working out the underlying mechanisms that will make the best sense for the customer.  Often, it’s not a viral campaign at all, but a coordinated blogging strategy across all departments.

With almost half of companies experimenting with social media, and 30% piloting applications for consideration, there are a lot of things to learn.  Social media is dynamic and moving fast.  Keep hold of your experts – or try to hire people with experience.  you’ll save money in the long run, as well as getting industry experience on the team.

It’s a big task, but if you start small and proceed slowly with all of your back office processes in place, you won’t go far wrong.  Make sure you do enough brainstorming sessions to thoroughly understand all of the ramifications and risks before you get unwelcome publicity when you go live. 

Behave like a veteran – right from the start…

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How do you measure a hunch?

imageThere  are loads of social media monitoring tools out there on the market that claim to give you deep insight to your customers and how they feel about you and your market offering.  They drill deep into social media platforms and search for keywords to measure sentiment and emotion.  They range from £30 per month to £3000 per month (when associate with a brand agency).  But are thy accurate in gauging the real feeling of your audience.

I’m convinced that the only real way you can find out what they’re thinking is to actually talk to them and I’m not sure that these tools can ever replace the feeling you get when you’re face to face in front of your customers.

 

Darrell at Advertising age has a couple of great examples where these tools can get things wrong…

Here’s one it thought was "negative" about the ubiquitous coffee chain: "im tired of this cheap coffee crap. need starbucks!"

And one it thought was positive: "Pumpkin chai. Mmm. Very good. Not from Starbucks. From Argo Tea."

That’s where you need to have the personal relationship with your customers.  Surveys and sentiment don’t really connect t with the people that you want to.  i received a survey the other day from a large storage company asking me about my perceptions about the company.  i know them well.  They provide SAN solutions.  I have no idea what else they do, apart from SAN solutions. So asking me to comment on their other brand offerings was a waste of time.  And my answers, like many others I suspect, might skew their results about what folks think of them.  They do storage not cloud in my opinion!

so I think that the main point of this is that no matter how sophisticated your monitoring solution is, or how much it costs, or how good the dashboard is, it can never replace the human hunch

You need a team of people to monitor your social media traffic and conversations, and their hunches and insight will tell you how folks are feeling about you.

Sure, you’ll get the hard metrics your CFO needs, but you need to manually analyse the comments themselves to make sure you’re on the right lines with sentiment. 

It’s the human touch that buys your products and talks about them.  Make sure that the human touch analyses what your customers are saying too – and provides the extra insight that a computer can never do…

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Facebook Liking or Digging Digg?

I was listening to an argument the other day amongst my network and it concerned the importance of Digg versus Facebook likes.

Digg, the social news website has been around for a while.  Users can vote, or ‘digg’ articles that bubble up to the top of the top news trends 

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Hmm.  It’s interesting to note that this screenshot, that I took today, isn’t dominated by news of the Wikileaks revelations that have been dominating the news for the last 7 days.  The more folks that vote to Digg an article, then the higher it appears in the results.  But this approach seems to be open to abuse, with mob mentality activities altering the results according to wikipedia…

So Digg is linear, and gives linear results based on the numbers of votes that it received. So… is that better than Facebook likes?

I don’t think so.. especially if you’re a marketer who wants to find out your reach in the B2C market.

Facebook’s Like feature allows you to broadcast recommendations to your friends and to your friends friends.  And as 75%of people who post reviews on products or services push this review out to their friends who are then 4  times more likely to buy.  Your friends respect your ‘social worthiness’ and will reinforce your decision in a really effective way by purchasing the product you’ve recommended. Digg is linear, Facebook Likes are exponential (viral).  Offers delivered via Scoutmob or Groupon can more easily be delivered over Facebook too, so there’s a good opportunity for B2C social commerce

Simply put. Digg articles are recommended by strangers, whereas Facebook recommendations are made by your friends.  you trust your friends, so you trust their recommendations.

So is Digg on it’s way out as a social bookmarking site?  Does the new algorithm allow for flash mob type voting on articles?  Will Facebook continue its rise for B2C market dominance or will another new mechanism appear to take Digg’s place?

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