Thursday, November 21, 2013

Brands can't live on a promise

Performance is essential in social media. Nothing moves in a peer-to-peer environment unless a behaviour is impacted.

No matter what you may say your brand is - through deeply-thought positioning, emotionally charged TV advertising or carefully crafted copy, what your brand actually is, is what other people say it is.

And what other people say it is, is what people experience it is: How it performs and how they say it performs.

Image via
That's the message you'll find in Chapter 10 - Trust, in my forthcoming book (Palgrave-Macmillan, January 2014) -The 10 Principles of Open Business.

It's the same position arrived at by Google and Brian Solis in their work on The Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) and - more recently - Brian's Ultimate Moment of Truth (UMOT).

ZMOT asserts we start our path to purchase in our perception of the expression of experience of others in our social circle. We hear good things. We hear bad things. We act accordingly.

Our own research (at The Social Partners) supports the idea that social media (which can almost wholly be defined as the expression of shared experience by our peers and people like us, as viewed from a variety of individual perspectives ) is THE place we turn to for evidence of performance: Advertising makes the promise, social delivers the truth.

Brian's UMOT is a neat expression of a concept I have been applying to my own work in social media strategy:  Building trust through performance at the level of the one-to-one relationship.

Since the brand is what people say it is, having experienced it, how do we encourage people to express their joy? What we do know is that people don't express their meh! So-so performance, mediocrity, blandness - of these we have nothing to report to our peers through social. The technical barrier remains that little bit too high. We don't tweet 'coffee in Starbucks was, you know, ok '. We do tweet 'awesome service in Starbucks today' or 'Starbucks was super sucky this morning'.

We go to the effort to report the out-of-the-ordinary, not (yet) the ordinary.

Brian's response is to encourage expression (reporting the out-of-the-ordinary) we must engage them - by which he means do something to make them love you (and that is most assuredly NOT clicking the Like button or browsing over your centre-out messaging content).

My own work in relationship marketing suggests similar (indeed the whole concept of Open Business shared in The 10 Principles of Open Business is about taking customer engagement to a whole new level by making partners of customers in everything you do).

Engagement, Brian argues, is about emotion.

Again, agreed. And here's the thing to guard against: Social Media is not good at broadcasting emotion - just as it can't broadcast trust.
Emotion resides in the individual and in their interaction with their peers.  Winding up a John Lewis Christmas TV ad and setting it off among your targets won't do the job.

You have to provide the out-of-the-ordinary. You have to build trust in your performance, You have to build the relationships, one person at a time.

This may sound expensive but we are already finding methodologies to track the effectiveness of this over-
delivery, of how far and for how long the emotional impact of feeling a little bit of love resonates.
My belief - one for which I am busy gathering evidence (and there are many anecdotal examples) is that being 'insanely great', as Steve Jobs put it, pays massive dividends.

At the end of the day since the aggregate output of what other people say is what your brand is, then this is where you should be focusing your  brand budget.

All the rest is just a promise.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Twitter: Where investors can have their cake and eat it

Image courtesy:
Things I wish I'd done... registered for the Twitter IPO. I took interest far too late. By the time I was ready to put my money where my mouth was I discovered I needed to jump through some hurdles (filling forms, sending them to a postal address etc) to be allowed to trade in US shares.
Oh well. Yesterday (before the float) I thought they'd rise about 15-20% on day one (I was guestimating they'd hit $30 to anyone who'd listen).
As it happens twitter went ballistic - up 93% on the day. I expect a lot of profit taking over the next few days as the market takes stock of that.
For the record - I warned against investing in the Facebook IPO at the time.
Personal investors in Twitter would be wise taking enough profit to cover what they've paid - and perhaps leaving the rest in for the journey. Essentially you get to have your cake and eat it too.
And it looks like it's going to be some journey - there are more than 200 new jobs being advertised by Twitter on right now - more than a dozen in London. From what I recall of the size of the London office, they're going to have to find new premises. Scale that around the world and you can see this is going to be an exciting few months for twitter.
It's rather wonderful that a company that describes itself as operating at the 'extreme of the open wing of the open party' is finding a very significant place in the world.
For why I think Twitter is worth its IPO asking price (and a little bit more right now) take a look at the post I wrote here.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?