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Australian retailers are finally leaving the shores of social media apathy and are attempting to navigate the treacherous waters of consumer engagement. No doubt spurred on by the negative PR associated with non-engagement, retailers are also sensing the hidden treasure to be found with consumer loyalty. The social media wave started several years ago, and it still baffles me why has it taken retailers so long to take social media seriously?
Listening to social media requires a process to understand the conversations and also to action the insights. Consumers want to be heard, and in many cases offer valuable insights that actually deliver profitable changes in retailing.
It’s pleasing to see the big retailers starting to invest resources in managing their social media channels. Long time participant Telstra who abandoned their “Nowwearetalking” initiative, and have recently established a dedicated team of 10 staff to monitor and respond to problems posted on social media. Last week, David Jones announced that it would be launching Facebook and Twitter accounts setup to report on fashion style trends. Myer is working on a platform for Facebook. This platform will allow click-through purchasing supporting customised offers based on prior shopping habits delivered from their loyalty card scheme. Woolworths have one of the best initiatives with their “everydaymatters” site that engages with consumers to get and rank ideas on what they should be doing better.
Social media engagement is about learning, which I can sum up with the statement “DO FAIL, to LEARN; and Don’t Fail to LEARN!” Retailers should expect failures, but rather than seek refuge on the shore of apathy, they should identify these experiences as warning beacons for potential future endeavours.
Now that the big retailers have taken the plunge, they are going to have to swim a lot faster if they want to stem the reductions in consumer loyalty. Brands are diverting more of their marketing spend to directly connect and engage with consumers effectively by-passing an important role previously held by the retailer. The stronghold for large retailers is the ability to understand consumer wants and satisfy them with a range of competing brands. For the moment, most brands still rely on retailers to do most of their sales fulfilment, however accessibility to daily deals and the growing maturity of recommendation engines may erode more of the retailer’s role. The big opportunity for large retailers is to leverage their existing loyalty schemes such as Coles Flybuys, Woolworths Everyday Rewards to become facilitators of group deals for major consumer packaged goods companies. The action is a variation of an old marketing rule. Participation Participation Participation, is the new Location Location Location, and retailers need to understand this as they chart a course across the Social oceans of consumer demands. There is much to gain for those companies that participate in social media engagement, and the key is adding value with the engagement. Whilst they are fickle and at times lacking in loyalty, consumers are more than happy to reward with their wallets those retailers who participate in social media.
this article was first published in Adnews
Word of mouth marketing is not new. It started around the camp-fire when people debated over what were the best hunting tools, and conversations continued into market places where trade flourished. But since the invention of the TV, which radically changed the way brands spoke to consumers; many big brands have either forgotten or ignored the levers that drive word of mouth marketing.
The science of how you measure word of mouth marketing is still in its infancy, and no doubt organisations like WOMMA will continue to promote various metrics to try to standardise the way word of mouth can be measured. But there are some quite simple initiatives that marketers can do to maximise the word of mouth marketing effect of their campaigns.
Here’s a check-list that it worth considering as part of every campaign or activity, which should help you enhance the word of mouth marketing impact.
1. WHAT CONVERSATIONS WILL THIS CAMPAIGN DRIVE?
e.g new product feature discussions, boasting about the experience, will they be category discussions or specific to your brand?
2. WHAT MEDIUMS WILL THESE CONVERSATIONS USE?
e.g. at an event, on an online discussion group, social networking commentary, dinner table discussions
3. MAKE IT EASY
How can we make it easier for these conversations to take place?
e.g. Can you provide photos of an event that consumers can download and post to their social networks?
4. MONITOR THE CONVERSATIONS
What can I do to monitor some of these conversations?
One of the easiest success measures is an increase in online discussions that unlike tacit conversations are recorded. Hint, you need to know what the existing conversational levels are to measure a change, so if you don’t have an online monitoring service, consider starting one.
Can I test the campaign’s word of mouth impact before hand or with a smaller sample? For example, run the campaign in an area where you can more easily measure the impact, this will provide an opportunity to make any changes before a major launch.
What incentives can I give people to share the conversations with others, and what ways are there to reward this? Are there opportunities to allow people to create Consumer generated content to express their opinions.
7. INVOLVE YOUR STAFF.
Can you utilise your existing employees to generate conversations related to the campaign?
8. CALL TO ACTION
Does the campaign have calls to action which allow people to sign up to special offers?
9. USE YOUR EVANGELISTS.
Do you have a record of brand advocates, or a loyalty program, and if so, have you involved them or made them aware of the campaign? if you don’t, then use this campaign to start a database.
10. EVALUATE THE RESULTS
Make sure you learn from the results, get into the habit of asking these questions before the campaign is designed, so you can change where necessary.