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…
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??
Its interesting to watch people talk about how ecommerce is evolving – for the last 2 years, the buzz words and focus has been on mobile, mobile, mobile – now its on social social social. Our purchasing trends are evolving and they are evolving to include our online friends.
We used to operate in a transactional way – think of other shopping sites you’ve visited and how these sites made you feel. With 5 or 6 screens to complete your purchase, it often isn’t a pleasant experience.
To capture the hearts and minds of the consumer, the shopping and purchasing experience needs to be emotional, to reverse the trend away from the transaction and towards the emotional experience. The problem is that large brands have so many barriers and processes in place that there is no space to interact or connect effectively with the consumers. So what do the consumers do?
They go and congregate in groups and forums online where their voice will be heard. Think of flyertalk – for frequent flyers. A great community which shares knowledge amongst its members. Think of Trip advisor which can make or break the experience for the traveller.
(This one was highlighted at a recent session I want to – and it made me smile – although other reviews were just as bad for this hotel in Flagstaff Arizona… )
What this highlights is that peer reviews will influence the way that you shop. With the ability to recommend places, items, things for purchase and push these recommendations to your friends, you can influence their buying decisions and choices. With a recommendation from their friends, are 4 times more likely to buy.
These recommendations make your brand socially worthy. And socially worthy is really good currency in the social media world.
If your brand is socially worthy, your social worth will drive more volume and reinforce your brand in an effective way. having experience here will really help – otherwise you’ll drive customers away.
Mobile devices and engaging mobile apps are a really effective way to get customers to engage, but its not all about the application, it’s about the experience and the customer engagement. And the customer wants to engage. With proper engagement the customer is in control. Brands shouldn’t chase the mobile channel or the social channel to the exclusion of everything else – they should be engaging holistically. Delta’s Facebook page is a great example of holistic engagement:
Booking a flight now all occurs within Facebook. There’s no reason to go to the Delta Web site to book a flight. The Flight booking experience is streamlined, simplified and shareable with your friends in Facebook. You are in control. No wonder customers love their ticket buying experience.
It seems like such a small thing to do to simplify the experience, but often the structure of the organisation holds simple innovations like this hold them back from innovation, back from improving the shopping experience. Finding innovation like this example, and other things that no one has done before, can have a huge impact on the customers experience – and their perception of the company, and blend that experience into a physical experience in the shop (or at the airport in Delta’s case)
Changing the experience fundamentally, putting the customer in control will change the way that they think about your brand – which will encourage more social conversation, engagement and feedback
Which begs the question – Is your brand actually yours to control? Perhaps democratisation of your brand might be the best thing for it…?