Here are all of the posts tagged ‘brands’.
The hype around Twitter doesn’t seem to be slowing down, however few research papers have been published so far about it. So it’s with a gleeful smile that I welcomed the results of the academic study of the phenomenon published by Professor Jim Jansen and his team at Penn State University. They analysed nearly 150,000 tweets to understand how brands were mentioned on microblogging tools like Twitter.
I will focus this post on the results, but feel free to check for yourselves the methods that have been used, they’re very well detailed in the report paper.
Around 19% of tweets mention an organization or a product. Of these:
- 1 out 5 tweets express a sentiment or an opinion, either positive (for 52% of them), negative (33%) or neutral (15%)
- 4 out of 5 tweets are not associated with a sentiment, they are mostly questions and answers. People are seeking details missing from their usual source of information and helping others with their findings.
This latest data is additional proof that brands and products are at the heart of online conversations. Conversation strategies are a requirement for brands and it should be part of an overall strategy. A conversation strategy can be used, for example, to understand why a product is more popular than another, and what could be improved as far as service and customer relationship are concerned. It might also help to discover a problem with a product already on the market and identify what remedy could be taken; users generally have very insightful inputs that should be taken into account.
Listening and responding are even more important, in that they help brands greatly when they want to start a conversation with their customers, or any other people out there.
If most of the tweets about a brand are questions, brands themselves can provide fast and reliable information, which I have no doubt will have a positive impact on the prospect/brand relationship, and then on the client/brand relationship. That’s what Robin was saying when he explained that it was important to “engage in conversations in social media”
Furthermore, the study shows that there can be a massive swing in sentiment from a studied period to another.
It’s probably obvious to all of you who are reading this, but conversations need constant monitoring, whether they happen on Twitter or elsewhere. It doesn’t stop at weekends: buying patterns and therefore exposure to corporate messages evolve constantly, and the strength of a brand is its ability to identify these variations and adapt to them. When We Are Social work on conversation audits for our clients, we often analyse the reactions of individuals to a brand at a precise moment, for example after the launch of a new TV ad campaign.
With the rise of microblogging, clients and individuals are exposed to a constant stream of information and opinions and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. These are rarely monitored by brands, so it’s high time for them to have a look and engage!
Thinking Digital has been one of the most varied and stimulating events I’ve been to and it’s no surprise there’s been a lot of talk about social media and engaging your consumers.
Alex Hunter (@cubedweller on Twitter), who was also a panellist at the social media masterclass, had a talk of his own at the conference yesterday. Alex is head of web at Virgin Group, and a true social media evangelist. He talked about how he’s reshaping the Virgin Group website and transforming it into a social platform for Virgin’s customers. Much of his talk drew from the Cluetrain Manifesto but wasn’t just a rehash of that; he shared his own thoughts. He emphasised that people don’t want to talk to brands, they want to talk to people – and so Virgin has put people as part of its strategy, helped by the fact it’s one of the few brands already inextricably associated with a person, namely Richard Branson.
Interesting, of all the corporate blogs, Alex regards Digg‘s as the best – not just because it’s written by the guys at the top like Kevin Rose, but because there is a multiplicity of voices and they respond to their fans. But then, as a social media site, Digg know the audience they’re blogging for, and as a new brand they’re more confident in experimenting. It’s harder for non-tech brands, so I’d use Digg as one example of good corporate blogging, but not the only one.
Alex was evangelistic about embracing social media in the business word, and made it clear it works for brands big and small (citing Qype and Zappos as examples). We also got some insights in the new Virgin philosophy – they have “labs”-style projects at Explore Virgin, which has produced Virgin Eye a beautiful visualisation of mentions of their brands on the web (from over 5,000 sources).
This isn’t just dabbling, however. Virgin plan to relaunch their website as a social platform, opening up to allow people to talk about their brand and products and upload their own content. They’ve been savvy to link up with Digg and Facebook Connect to utilise existing social media properties rather than reinvent the wheel. They have also put an impressive effort into research – a year and a half listening, researching and creating before launching their new social platform to make sure it fits the people who use it. It was an impressive example to others: not just in how to embrace social media, but how important it is to know the community you want to build around.
Three years into its existence, the recent media frenzy around celebrity Twitterers, including Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, and Barack Obama’s successful use of the medium in the run-up to the US election, has seen the popularity of the “microblogging” site increase 27-fold in 12 months.
Advertisers could learn a lot from celebrity Twitterers using the site to shape their personal branding, creating a close, one-on-one relationship with their fans without constantly filtering their thoughts through a PR sieve.
Robin Grant, the managing director of the social media agency We Are Social, which advises Fry on his use of Twitter, explains: “The advice we gave to Stephen centred on being himself and having genuine conversations with people. It’s the same for brands. It’s about being human, showing your real personality and allowing people to connect with you on an emotional level.”
The article then gets quite bizarre, with Flo Heiss, the creative partner at Dare giving this advice about who should sit behind a brand’s account:
It could be a real person, such as a receptionist, or character made up by yourself
How about an imaginary friend who’s a receptionist, Flo? On to David Bain, an ‘internet marketing consultant’:
it’s cleverer when you don’t anthropomorphise it. What if an inanimate object was to Tweet, for example?
Why is it cleverer David? And what would it say? Amelia Torode, managing partner at VCCP:
It has to be a friendly, chatty brand. A brand such as Coca-Cola would be too large in its entirety. You need to work less at a higher-brand level and go down to the actual campaigns or smaller brands under the umbrella in order to start up the conversation.
Not quite as unhinged as Flo and David admittedly, but I’d point to the examples of brands like Burger King, Southwest Airlines, Whole Foods, Starbucks, JetBlue and even VCCP’s client O2, who are having meaningful and useful conversations at the higher-brand level. As usual, our friend Faris Yakob talks sense:
Previously we had a model of buying attention from media companies. Now we’ve got direct relationships so we have to earn that attention – we have to earn it by being entertaining, useful and also nice.
To be honest, there is no ‘right approach’, but there are some general principles that apply (as expressed by myself and Faris above) and then there is the hard won experience at the coalface, learning what works and what doesn’t, that brands doing it themselves (and the agencies like ourselves helping them) have acquired. Most importantly your approach should be built around, yes, you guessed it again, the business objectives you’re trying to achieve.
This diagram from Fallon’s Aki Spicer of six different potential participation strategies brands could use is a useful thought starter (each of which of course might be used in combination or not at all), but even the approaches I deliberately ridiculed above could be valid in the right circumstances. Fictional characters can work really well as part of a campaign as VCCP’s own Compare the Meerkat work shows, and I’m sure at least one of Zappos’ receptionists is on Twitter. Even inanimate objects might have their place – in fact I’ve been trying to persuade Kew Gardens to get their plant life on Twitter for a while now.
But deciding on a strategy is only the first and easiest step. The hard work is the day after day of micro-interactions with real people, and striking the right balance between the opportunities and risks presented by having a real person as the voice of the brand, which I touched upon in the hotly debated post on learning to speak human. David Armano brilliantly investigates this dynamic in The Age of Brandividualism and his recent follow-up, Battle of the Brands (both of which are required reading here at We Are Social towers):
For each brand on Twitter, there’s an individual (or individuals) behind that effort. It’s both business and personal. The two have become one. The tactic comes from a fundamental truth when it comes to the social spaces on the Web. People want to talk to other people. They want transparency. They want to know who they are talking to.
The potential reward of course, is the ability to spread surprise and delight, turn negative word of mouth into positive and to really engage people with your brand at an emotional level. There is no greater prize…