We’re already helping adidas, Heinz, Unilever, Heineken, eBay, Jaguar, Intel, Moët & Chandon & Expedia.
B&T recently published this article by me about understanding your online fanbase and how leverage them. They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below:
Word of mouth and consumer advocacy are marketing gold. Marketers know that peer-to-peer recommendations carry much more credibility with consumers than brand generated content.
Creating and maintaining a highly engaged fanbase on social media may appear to be a daunting undertaking, but the benefits for brands and their fans may just be worth the effort.
One of the first consequences of having a highly involved fanbase is the positive impact on customer loyalty and the influence on how often they buy your brand’s products.
In a recent study by US company Share This it was revealed that “extremely positive online shares generate a 9.5 percent increase in purchase intent”.
But there’s definitely more to ‘fandom’ than this. Rather than looking for short-term engagements that spikes then peters out, it’s about having fans involved in shaping the evolution of the brand itself, strengthening the bond with fans, igniting brand passion and building consumer trust and loyalty in the long term.
Through social media brands can truly engage with customers and potential customers at scale, driving advocacy and word of mouth both online and offline. So how can brands build advocacy or even, as in some cases, brand fandom?
Fandoms can be an intense phenomenon and potentially a brand’s strongest ally in social media. To build such a deep level of advocacy brands have to demonstrate their values every day by engaging their communities with the appropriate tone of voice. Brands looking to develop true ‘fandom’ need to provide a genuine interaction with people online – essentially talking and behaving like a smart, positive, honest, inspiring person.
Most of all, what brands must do is focus on the quality of the content they share online. Every single piece of content should be created as a conversation starter; a fundamental part of the story the brand is telling to its community. This facilitates an authentic opportunity to share brand messages through creative dialogue.
Another important piece of the puzzle is encouraging users to create content about the brand itself. Fashion brands seem to be particularly good at this strategy. For example, this is exactly what fashion retailer Black Milk has done, leveraging thousands of Sharkie selfies and creating specific hashtags for every single product. This encourages customers to be not just fans, but Black Milk models, playing a big role in the brand’s storytelling, giving value, adding credibility and sparking users’ interest in the brand.
When thinking about creating highly engaged social communities it’s important that we take a channel agnostic approach. There is no one platform that dictates success. Rather, we need to keep in mind demographics and the interests of our target audience as the first criteria to consider when looking for the best place to develop social communities.
Generally speaking, Instagram and Pinterest are the top players for fashion fandom, but other platforms like Snapchat can provide a more exclusive interaction with the brand. This is working well for brands like Free People, Juicy Couture and Rebecca Minkoff. By using Snapchat to give fans sneak peeks at new collections these brands are sharing exclusive content with their most highly committed fans before anyone else, making the content even more elite and ephemeral.
Fashion brands are known to be forward thinkers when it comes to social media. While there are many fashion brands doing great things online, one of the best is Burberry. This is a brand that actively engages with its fans and followers on a daily basis, experimenting with new platforms and looking to find the best ways to respond to the changing needs and social behaviours of its consumer base.
Burberry is always careful to create the right content for the right platform, and in doing so, strengthens its relationship with its community. This strategy has also delivered a strong user-generated element, with the community highly involved in content creation for the brand. Other fashion brands doing great work in this space are H&M, ASOS and Lorna Jane.
But as with any marketing strategy, there are risks as well as rewards for brands with highly engaged communities. In the case of fashion communities, very often, fashion industry lovers act as a tribe. In many cases they are so highly committed and involved with brand values they show a unique level of advocacy and loyalty and contribute to the brand’s evolution by providing inspiration and constructive feedback. There is a downside however, as fans can also be pretty vocal about what they don’t like, showing their disappointment in a highly visible and emotive way.
At some point, every brand will experience negative or hostile behaviour from followers online, especially if it involves the community in marketing strategies and product development. After developing a strong emotional connection with the brand, the community members can feel so highly involved that they assume the brand will meet their expectations, whatever it takes: unfortunately, sometimes this is just not feasible and can generate frustration amongst fans.
Case in point was the very strong fan backlash that Black Milk experienced earlier this year while trying to celebrate May the 4th (Star Wars Day). Some of the brand’s highly engaged Facebook community took offence at a post that some considered negative and counter to the brand’s stated position that “you shall not make critical comments on other women’s bodies”.
The brand then chose to delete these comments, claiming that the people who had been offended by the post were a minority. The brand admitted that they would continue to delete any comments that weren’t “positive” enough. When this was, again, received negatively, they even went so far as to tell their own customers if they felt that this particular thread was out of line to unlike their page and to stop supporting them. The situation escalated and many of the community were unhappy with the brand’s approach to their concerns, with the story hitting the news as word spread across social networks.
The brand response to this crisis was definitely not best practice in terms of community management, openness and transparency. In cases like this brands can only hope to learn from their mistakes. The strong lesson from this case is that all brands engaging with their communities through social media must have clearly articulated crisis plans in place to respond to issues with their communities before they escalate into fully-blown crises.
The reality is that most brand advocates are motivated by the desire to play an active role as main stakeholders: they like to tell other people about their experience with the brand, share their knowledge with others to help them make better decisions. In return they are looking for recognition and appreciation for their positive contributions.
This level of advocacy can impact brands on several levels. Brands may involve fans by implementing feedback in product development, offer them insider knowledge about the upcoming collections, encourage user-generated content creation, implement special loyalty programs for supporters or provide fans with discounts.
Brands that have succeeded in harnessing the power of fandom tend to have certain traits in common: they are good listeners, open to trends and willing to change their social media strategy based on social behaviour and insights from their communities. By recognising the rewards and risks of courting ‘fandom’ brands that actively commit to remaining deeply engaged with their communities, and to evolving their strategies to meet the changing needs of those communities, stand to gain tangible business advantages from their efforts.
In the old world of advertising and sales, product marketing was a relatively linear process. It usually involved investing large amounts into product advertising to drive consumers into stores and convert a sale.
With the rise of social media, this old world of consumerism has changed. People are no longer passive when it comes to advertising but are decisive, active and selective of what brands they want to see in their media channels.
Consumers also use social to share purchases; they update their friends and followers on stores they’ve checked into or products they’ve just bought. For marketers, this is the hugely sought after peer-to-peer recommendation and an example of making a ‘social sale’.
A social sale raises awareness of products purchased and where they were purchased amongst a customer’s social community. And the great thing about them is that they are already happening. It doesn’t involve trying to change consumer behaviour, just harnessing it to work for your brand.
As our presentation shows, brand campaigns to drive social sales are happening, with success. But they’re not happening regularly – yet. It is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to revolutionise the purchase process in years to come. Mobile, shopper and social marketing are no longer separate disciplines. They need to evolve, and be considered as a cohesive whole, to allow each element to play to its strength and create truly social sales.
GlobalWebIndex’s latest figures reveal mixed news for Facebook. It’s still number one in the social networking world, but half of its members say they’re using it less frequently – a figure which rises to two thirds among the key teen demographic. Jason Mander, Head of Trends at GlobalWebIndex, exclusively talks us through some of the key findings from the new GlobalWebIndex Social report.
In the last few months, it’s been common to see reports which attack Facebook and claim that it’s losing its relevance and popularity. Although there’s no easier way to grab attention and headlines, this simply isn’t true. The fact remains that no other social network can currently offer a comparable reach, no other social network has such consistent popularity across countries and no other social network is integrated so comprehensively within the infrastructure of the internet (e.g. via “like” buttons).
Our latest results in fact show that, outside of China, more than four fifths (83%) of online adults are members of Facebook, while close to half (47%) consider themselves to be actively using the network. For a service which is now more than ten years old, this is an extremely impressive achievement.
Facebook can also claim the best engagement rate: more than half (54%) of Facebook’s users are logging in more than once a day – a figure which puts it 20 percentage points ahead of second-placed Twitter. And, along with all other social networks, it enjoyed a boost in active usage during the World Cup as the tournament became a major online talking (and sharing) point.
So, all’s rosy in the Facebook garden, then? Well, not quite. Facebook does have some clear challenges to face. Firstly, usage continues to become more passive in character as users turn to other platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and messaging apps to carry out behaviors that were once hosted directly on Facebook itself.
Over the last six quarters, the numbers messaging friends on a 1-to-1 basis have dropped by 20 percentage points, there’s been a 17-point drop in updating one’s profile status, a 10-point drop in uploading videos and – perhaps most starkly of all – a 24-point decrease in photo uploading. People are still visiting Facebook, but they’re doing fewer things once there.
More worryingly for Facebook, there’s a boredom factor at work too. When GWI surveyed nearly 12,500 Facebook members in the UK and USA, some 50% said that they were using the site less than they used to. The top reason was that members were simply less interested in it than they used to be (45%). But more than a third (37%) claimed to be bored of Facebook and close to a fifth (18%) think that the site is no longer as cool as it once was. Privacy concerns loom large too, with nearly 3 in 10 saying that they don’t believe Facebook is secure or private enough – something which might help to explain why Facebook recently released a Tor hidden version of its site.
Even more critically, it’s among the most coveted but fickle teen demographic where pretty much all of these figures peak. Nearly two thirds of this audience say they are using Facebook less than they used to. But while they under-index on saying that they’re spending less time on social networks generally, they then over-index on almost all of the specific anti-Facebook options (including being bored of it and using alternative types of networks instead). Put simply, teens are less likely than others to be moving away from social networks as a genre but more likely than other audiences to be moving away from Facebook.
Take a glance at the figures for other platforms and its clear which services are benefitting from this. In the last six months, Tumblr (+120%), Pinterest (+111%) and Instagram (+64%) have been the fastest growing platforms (compare that to Facebook, which grew by just 2%, and the difference in momentum is clear).
Tumblr and Instagram also have by far the youngest audiences – 38% and 37% of their respective users fall within the 16-24 demographic, with more than 70% of their audiences being under the age of 35. In contrast, Facebook has the oldest audience of any major network, with nearly a quarter of users over the age of 45. Even LinkedIn has a younger overall profile.
In the messaging space, meanwhile, Snapchat is not just the fastest growing app, it’s also the one with the youngest user base. Worldwide, teens are more than 2.5 times as likely to be Snapchatting as the average internet user, but this figure rises much, much higher in certain countries – with Snapchat performing much more strongly in Europe and North America than in the other world regions. In some countries, Snapchat has in fact become more popular with teens than either Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp – something which helps to explain why the service which so famously refused Facebook’s advances remains a serious thorn in its side.
Of course, some caveats are needed here; Facebook is still top, after all, and not many teens have actually left it. Similarly, Facebook doesn’t need its users to love it; its Atlas platform and its ad-based revenues are underpinned by the proposition of reaching specific audiences. So, as long as membership and visitation rates remain strong or on the rise – as they are – profits will follow. Nevertheless, ten years ago Facebook was the site that any teen wanted to be on; now, Facebook has become the opposite – it’s lost a serious part of its appeal among this key demographic. And you can expect to see it launching a range of new features and tools in the coming months in a bid to counter this trend.
Note: GlobalWebIndex conducts quarterly research across 32 markets, representing nearly 90% of the global internet audience. It surveys more than 170,000 internet users per year, including 30,000 in both the US and UK. Download a free summary of the new GlobalWebIndex Social Q3 report here.
Promotional posts to lose organic Facebook reach
Uh oh, organic reach on Facebook is about to drop again. The network has announced that any “overly promotional” posts will suffer – that’s those which push people to buy a product, install an app or enter a competition, among others. Our very own Robin Grant spoke to Marketing Week about the changes:
Brands are producing more content than ever, but News Feeds only have limited inventory – the obvious solution for Facebook is to sell eyeballs to the highest bidder. That doesn’t mean that producing quality content is no longer a priority, as engaging content will get the lion’s share of the little organic reach available, but more importantly drive media efficiency, maximising the effectiveness of Facebook spend.
Digiday was quick to point out that organic reach isn’t dead yet. Brands can still reach 25% of their audience per month, especially if they’re producing high quality content. The importance of that last point is highlighted in the below graph.
Facebook adds Yelp-like ‘Places’ feature
Facebook has added a feature called ‘Places’, which collates and showcases ratings and locations of local businesses. Now, we don’t want to start any rumours, but it’s pretty Yelp-y. Looks like there’s a new pair of rivals in town.
Facebook creating ‘enterprise social network’
If there’s one problem with Facebook, it’s too many friends and not enough colleagues. Thankfully, Facebook is working on a new network, ‘Facebook at Work’, which will allow everything from internal messaging to document collaboration. Hopefully it won’t be another outlet for your boss’s baby photos.
Twitter responds to stock price fall
What do you do when your stock price plummets? Well, if you’re Twitter, a whole host of things. First things first, the network has pointed out the value of its “logged out” audience, which it numbers at 500 million unique visitors every month.
CEO Dick Costolo also announced a number of updates to the way the platform works. First of all is something called ‘Instant Timeline’, which will make it easier for new users to find and follow the accounts relevant to them. There are also going to be better video capabilities in the main app, tweaks to celeb pages and users will be shown the most popular messages they missed from their network when not logged in. Finally, direct messages are going to change – you’ll be able to share tweets within them.
WeChat adds 30 million users
WeChat has reached 468 million monthly active users, which is a lot, isn’t it? However, growth is slowing – 6.8% in Q3 2014, down from 10.6% the previous quarter.
YouTube plans premium music service
YouTube is launching a paid music subscription service, through which users can stream high-quality, ad-free music and music videos. It’s also adding a new way to discover full albums, with discographies listed on artist pages.
Pinterest plans to position itself as pre-search engine
Pinterest has a vision. It’s hoping to become a resource for people who have the faintest hint of an idea, long before they’d use a search engine. This was made clear in a presentation by head of engineering, Michael Lopp, using slides like the below.
Updates to Instagram
Instagram has made a couple of changes. First of all, you can now go back and edit captions on posts, particularly useful for typos/failed jokes. It’s also added a new ‘People’ tab to the Explore section, where users can see any accounts that may be of interest to them.
— Nissan (@Nissan) November 12, 2014
— JC Le Roux (@JCLeRoux) November 12, 2014
— metmuseum (@metmuseum) November 13, 2014
Banana Republic joins the We Are Social club
We Are Social has partnered with Banana Republic in the US on social media strategy, activations and community management. So far, work has included #thenewBR, a campaign to promote the autumn range through influencers and contests, as well as #ShareHappy, through which users could tweet @BananaRepublic to get cupcakes and balloons sent to someone in NYC.
Discounts for followers
OnePiece has opened a New York pop-up shop that trades social media popularity for discounts. Shoppers will receive $1 off for every 500 followers they have across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Not meaning to brag, but if I pop in, I’ll be saving myself a tidy total of $1.
Radar gets turned off
The Samaritans have pulled their ‘Radar’ app after a petition amassed over 1,000 signatures. Radar allowed users to sign up for alerts if anyone they followed on Twitter posted a message that contained a number of key words that might suggest negative/suicidal thoughts. After a number of questions about privacy, the app is now gone for good.
Time is flying by and we’re just over halfway through our graduate scheme rotations! Alex has been writing his socks off in editorial and, since my last post, I’ve been looking for brand insights with the strategy team and helping organise video shoots with the production department… my hands even had a starring role!
Taking a ‘hands-on’ approach to help with Facebook video content for one of our FMCG brands
So, what is strategy?
Strategists, planners, strategic planners … whatever you choose to call these guys, they definitely have to have their heads screwed on. By extensively researching the market and understanding the target audience, they must establish the key strategic insights which lie within a business problem. Equipped with this information, they then agree upon a strategy with which they can produce a creative brief to help get the right ideas to power this and bring it to life.
I quickly learnt that this is no easy task, and the team let me get involved at every stage of the process. This involved finding and analysing examples of great competitor work, trawling through YouTube video comments to understand audience motivations and sitting in creative briefs and brainstorms to see how the professionals really do it. This all gave me a greater understanding of the extensive background work that happens before an advertising idea is even a spark in the creatives minds.
Alex and I hijacking a Christmas shoot for some cheesy grad family photos
How about production?
A relatively new team to the We Are Social arsenal, production are behind almost every large-scale project in the company, ranging from website builds to YouTube series to big photoshoots. They are involved at every single stage of the process to make sure it goes to plan, is kept within budget and is delivered on time. To do this, they often need specialist knowledge, for example to know approximate costs, equipment needed or legalities surrounding an idea.
During my time in production, I spent an amazing day at the F&F live Twitter takeover event with celebrity stylist, Angela Buttolph. The brand set out to solve the online community’s Autumn style dilemmas, people could tweet in their problems using the hashtag #AutumnSOS and would receive personalised responses and video content answering their fashion questions. It was a really enjoyable and successful day, which even beat the summer event results.
One example of content created on the day using the real-time catwalk
But it’s not been all work! We returned to the Twitter offices for an informative workshop about the platform’s updates and Twitter cards. We also attended the expertly named ‘who wants to be a WAS-illionaire’ company quiz night; involving some pretty horrendous team names, copious amounts of food and drinks plus debatable quiz-playing ethics. All in all, it’s been a busy couple of weeks, so I shall leave you with a few learnings from my recent graduate scheme experiences.
Some things I’ve learnt so far:
- Strategy taught me the importance of having clearly defined audiences and content pillars to make sure everything that gets made has a purpose, in keeping with the saying “don’t make content for the sake of content”
- Twitter showed off their new feature, the Buy Now button, allowing users to purchase items through the app without ever leaving the platform. It is in the early stages of development and currently only available to a select few US brands, but is an interesting move for the company and should further establish Twitter as an advertising platform to be reckoned with
- Stretching your legs and arms into unnatural positions in a sweaty office, is a sure fire way to break the ice with new colleagues at the twice weekly WAS yoga classes…. or you can just stick to rounds of Jagerbombs at company socials
- Also remember, in case the other grad pops up on your dating app, swipe left, delete the app, throw your phone under the nearest bus