Customer Community as Word-of-Mouth Marketing Engine
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Customer Community as Word-of-Mouth Marketing Engine

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http://ow.ly/eYvWs, The Second Generation of Social Engagement Is Here ...

http://ow.ly/eYvWs, The Second Generation of Social Engagement Is Here

Savvy companies are already launching second-generation social strategies that respect new, online social norms and leverage branded customer communities to foster authentic consumer engagement — the key to driving revenue and retention. These strategies will leverage social networks as a place to “meet” new and current consumers and invite people into a branded customer community where consumers willingly engage with brands and people with similar interests.

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  • 1. Customer Community asWord-of-Mouth Marketing EngineThe Second Generation of Social Engagement Is HereSavvy companies are already launching second-generation social strategies thatrespect new, online social norms and leverage branded customer communities tofoster authentic consumer engagement — the key to driving revenue and retention.These strategies will leverage social networks as a place to “meet” new and currentconsumers and invite people into a branded customer community where consumerswillingly engage with brands and people with similar interests. Table of Contents ¢¢ First-Generation Social Media: Inserting Brands into Consumer Conversations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 New Social Norms and Spaces. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 ¢¢ The Second-Generation of Social: Driving Revenue by Building Authentic Engagement with Consumers . . . . . . 3 Traditional Customer Engagement Put Brands in Control — But Kept Consumers at a Distance. . . . . . . . . . . 4 Social Media Changed Everything by Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Marketing at Every Stage of the Customer Lifecycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Customer Communities Enable Deeper, Authentic Engagement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 ¢¢ Communities Are Engines for Rich, Customer-Generated Content. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 ¢¢ Learn More . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Sponsored by
  • 2. Customer Community asWord-of-Mouth Marketing EngineThe Second Generation of Social Engagement Is HereSocial networks like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn have taken the world bystorm — and for consumers and companies, nothing will ever be the same. By creatingplatforms for consumers to connect and interact with each other and with brands, theseinnovations have created an entirely new channel that holds the promise of personal,one-to-one relationships that build trust and loyalty between marketers and consumers— which leads to higher revenue. 1You’re probably already doing social to some A recent consumer study conducted by The Incytedegree — for example, by: Group unveils why. This study, which analyzed sur- vey responses from 1,897 qualified consumers who• Building an audience in existing social networks actively use the Internet and represent adults from like Facebook all age, socio-economic, and geographic groups in• Listening to consumer mentions the U.S., shows that consumers have clear prefer- ences regarding how they want to engage with brands• Responding to customers in social networks online. And most companies’ social marketing strate-• Experimenting with social advertising gies — part of the first generation of social engage- ment — are out of sync with them.If so, your company is not alone. According to Gartner,companies are expected to spend $8.8 billion in socialadvertisement in 2012 alone. The Web is now filled ¢¢First-Generation Socialwith Facebook and LinkedIn ads and apps, Twitter ads, Media: Inserting Brands intocontests, and gamification efforts all designed to keep Consumer Conversationscustomers engaged in brand-related conversations.The problem is, many companies haven’t fully realized Over the past few years, we’ve all been a part of theexpected returns on their investment. According to first generation of social engagement. It started wheneMarketer, U.S. companies spent more than $2.16 bil- consumers began to share and interact in sociallion last year on Facebook brand pages and social me- networks with friends, colleagues, and acquaintancesdia advertisements alone — and for many, the return — a new way to truly engage with one another abouthas been universally abysmal. 1” For example, Forbes what’s important to them, including their opinions andnoted that, “Just days before Facebook’s historic experiences with brands and products. Companiesstock offering, General Motors said it plans to stop watched, learned, and came to accept this new leveladvertising on the social media site, concluding that of transparency — but were afraid of losing controlits paid ads don’t have a big impact on consumers.”2 over their brand. Marketers also saw the opportunity to engage with their customers in a new way, insertingIf this is the case for your business, it’s time to ask, themselves into these social networks to establish“Why aren’t we getting the returns we expected?” a presence and an audience—creating traditional broadcast campaigns and deploying them using new social marketing software such as Buddy Media and1 http://www.emarketer.com/newsroom/index.php/tag/facebook/ Vitrue.2 GM Says Facebook Ads Don’t Work, Pulls $10 Million Account. Forbes. By Joann Miller. 5/15/2012.
  • 3. What resulted from these efforts? Companies suc- So what do consumers want when interacting with cessfully built long list of fans, “friends,” and followers brands online? As summarized in Figure 1, Incyte’s on social media. research revealed that: The problem is, according to Incyte’s research, • When making purchase decisions, Websites — not consumers don’t participate in social networks to re- social networks — are the primary place search products and services of a company or brand. consumers go to research products of a specific Social networks, such as Facebook, are where con- company. sumers primarily go to interact with individuals — their friends, colleagues, acquaintances, and professional • Over 50% of consumers show a strong preference for “Branded Customer Communities,” which are networks — not brands. In fact, the research identified managed by companies and run separately from a big gap between how consumers want to interact social networks (but have strong linkages to them). with brands on social networks and how companies are using social. (For a closer look at the study’s find- • Social media is the preferred way of learning about ings, view the full research paper here). a brand’s customer community — for example, through a referral by friends on Facebook.2 Consumers show a Social Media is Websites, not social strong preference for the door into networks, are the primary “Branded Customer Brand’s Customer place consumers go Communities” Community to make purchase decisions 50% 58% 81 % of participants show a of consumers have joined of consumers use preference for relevant an internet community company website content vetted by other based on a friend’s to research products consumers Facebook post Figure 1: Key Findings from Incyte Research New Social Norms and Spaces social norms in the physical world — but have real- world application in the virtual world as well. Relevant One way of looking at these findings is that first-gen- examples of “social appropriateness” with corollaries eration social marketing strategies under-delivered on in social media might include: ROI because they broke unspoken but developing on- line social rules when they invaded the “social spaces” • “Don’t stand too close to someone when of consumers. These rules, which are being defined you talk with them.” In the world of social and shaped by consumers themselves, are based on media, companies should make sure they don’t intrude too much into their customers’
  • 4. online lives — for example, with unrelated showed a preference for content that was vetted as advertisements. One of the keys to not intruding is “high quality” by other consumers. This is what com- staying relevant. munities create, so it’s no surprise that consumers in- dicated a preference for customer communities. What• “Listen and maintain eye contact.” In social attracts them to these communities is the relevancy media, if someone reaches out to a company, then of the content, both at the point of sale and post-sale. the company should maintain a human connection with that customer. This means avoiding canned Customer communities are: responses — and helping customers connect to an existing conversation about topics that the • Proactively managed by companies consumer sees as important. • Have strong linkages to social networks, so they can easily share information with like-minded• “Don’t monopolize the conversation.” friends First-generation social was mostly about brands broadcasting messages to their audience. But • Full of relevant, accurate content provided by one-sided conversations do little to build authentic people like them, vetted for accuracy by the relationships — especially if the conversation brand, and easily accessed so that it’s relevant to 3 is always trying to get the consumer to buy members’ changing context (shopper, new user something. Companies need to let customers drive seeking service or technical assistance, etc.) the conversation. This will lead to a more authentic and transparent relationship that builds loyalty • Designed to help them assess the trustworthiness of peer answers and comments and trust.• “If you meet someone new and want to get • Tightly integrated with the company’s website, so shoppers can easily view social conversations and to know someone better, invite them to do opinions as they research products on the brand’s something.” If a consumer shows interest in your website company’s products and services by “liking” your brand’s Facebook page, invite them to a company Consumers choose to join branded customer com- site where they can engage in open conversation munities, where they want and expect to engage in with your existing customers — people who know deeper ways with brands and fellow consumers about your products well, share objective opinions, and relevant products and services. And because this level are happy to answer questions. of engagement is socially acceptable within branded customer communities, it’s here that you have theIf first-generation social marketing strategies inad- greatest opportunity to build trust and loyalty, whichvertently crossed these invisible but significant lines leads to revenue.(which in any social situation, real or virtual, inhibitspeople’s desire to engage fully), then the good news is,companies now have the insights needed to develop ¢¢The Second-Generationsecond-generation social marketing strategies. These of Social: Driving Revenuestrategies, which will respect consumers’ online social by Building Authenticspaces and rules of engagement, have the potential todeliver higher revenue and greater business value. Engagement with ConsumersBut second-generation social will require new social Savvy companies are already launching second-spaces where true consumer–brand engagement generation social strategies that respect these socialis both appropriate and desired. The Inctye Group’s norms and leverage branded customer communitiesresearch shows that consumers seek deeper connec- to foster authentic consumer engagement — the keytions with brands — but social networks are not where to driving revenue and retention. These strategies willthey want to build these connections. leverage social networks as a place to “meet” new and current consumers and invite people into a brandedCustomer communities are the place where consum- customer community where consumers willinglyers seek to establish deeper connections with brands. engage with brands and people with similar interests.Over 50% of participants in the research clearly
  • 5. What makes branded customer communities power- ful is the fact that they can facilitate authentic custom- Discover er engagement — which is the primary distinguishing characteristic of the next generation of social. Let’s take a closer look at what this evolution from tradi- tional customer engagement to second-generation of social will look like — and the opportunities it creates for your business. Traditional Customer Engagement Put Brands in Control — But Kept Consumers at a Distance Figure 2: Marketing Across the Customer Lifecycle Before Figure 2 shows the stages of the typical customer life- Social Media cycle familiar to marketers before the advent of social media. The orange arrows represent the programs4 Social Media Changed Everything and tactics marketers engaged in before social media existed. by Leveraging Word-of-Mouth Marketing at Every Stage of the The first phase is discovery — the first time customers are introduced to your brand, products, and services. Customer Lifecycle Absent social media, they typically find out about you But social media amplifies these word-of-mouth from ads and branding campaigns. If they are inter- conversations for many people to see, hear, and ested in learning more, they evaluate your products be influenced by. As illustrated in Figure 3, it allows and services. To get them to the next stage — the consumers to connect with other people at any stage “buy” stage — many companies use promotions. of lifecycle — instantly. The volume and amplitude of From this point on, you are dealing with prospects, these conversations has grown — first and foremost or potential customers — and once they buy, you are for advocates, who not only influence uninitiated dealing with customers who start to “experience” your consumers in the process of discovery, but also touch product or service. They may seek out help content every other part of the lifecycle with their words and to get started. And if they have positive experiences actions online. with your services and products, they begin to form a bond — and hopefully become repeat customers. This is also where customer service becomes a marketing channel for your company. Discover Ideally, your customers will get to the next stage: advocacy. Customer advocates provide you with free, word-of-mouth advertising by telling their friends and business colleagues about your company and introducing you to new customers. But without social media, your brand typically isn’t involved in these “backyard” and “water cooler” discussions. And advocates have a relatively limited sphere of influence confined primarily to their own social circle. Figure 3: Conversations Accelerate the Customer Lifecycle At the same time, other consumers in the lifecycle — especially existing consumers — have engaged in unprecedented volumes of conversations because of social media. This is the reality of our digital age,
  • 6. where consumers are talking around the traditional, Facebook, Twitter, and others help catalyze theseinner-directed tactics of brands, products, and ser- conversations, enabling them to occur at unprec-vices. And as a result, these conversations are having edented volumes. Using monitoring and listeninga powerful influence on the speed and nature of the tools like Radian6 and social marketing tools such aslifecycle, driving sales and new customer acquisition Buddy Media and Vitrue, companies strived to be anin completely unprecedented ways. For example: active participant in these conversations happening on social networks. They successfully monitored and• Advocates can introduce friends and colleagues inserted themselves into these dialogues — but as to your products and services, prompting them to Incyte’s research reveals, not in a way that consumers evaluate and buy your products and services. necessarily embrace.• Customers with multiple positive experiences with Furthermore, these interactions, if left un-nurtured your brand can introduce people to your company and trapped within the bounds of Facebook and Twit- and prompt evaluation and buy decisions, turning ter, tend to be fleeting — vanishing as quickly as they into your brand advocates. started. This is true even if you use social marketing• Customers that experience just one interaction tools such as Buddy Media and Vitrue. Figure 4 — a with your company can introduce friends and post on the Pampers Facebook page – is an excellent 5 colleagues to your company, prompt evaluation example of a brand-driven tactic powered by Vitrue. It and buying decisions, also turning into brand sparked a large number of interactions among Pam- advocates. pers consumers, but these interactions had a shelf life of 15 to 30 minutes at most. Comments per Quarter-Hour 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 0.25 1.25 2.25 3.25 4.25 Hours Since Post Cummulative Comments 140 130 120 110 100 90 80 70 0.25 1.25 2.25 3.25 4.25 Figure 4: Social Content Has a Short Half-Life664 people liked the post and 140 commented on it. minute. And within just 30 minutes of the post beingThat’s a lot of interaction! But when we look closer published, there was a precipitous fall-off in interac-at the timestamps associated with the comments, tion volume.The chart in Figure 4 shows how quicklywe see that a flurry of activity took place within a
  • 7. people stopped commenting, and how fast the cumu- about, and how they can help advocate for your brand. lative comments flattened out. For example, you get a 360-degree view of conversa- tions throughout the entire customer lifecycle that are This is a problem for marketers. Left unattended and long-standing, easy to find, and relevant. uncultivated, this high volume of otherwise valuable interactions evaporates into the digital ether. They fail At the same time, you can: to translate into engagement, and ultimately, revenue. This is why marketers need a new kind of tool for • Build trust with customers and prospects capturing and cultivating these interactions — a cus- • Establish long-lasting connections tomer community that transforms them into relevant, “evergreen,” customer-generated content. • Facilitate engagement • Create entry points anywhere your customers are Customer Communities Enable • Build social content that is optimized for search Deeper, Authentic Engagement What makes all this possible is the way communi- Customer communities are the enabler of the second ties enable content persistence, discoverability, and6 generation of consumer engagement, which is all relevance. about driving real engagement with consumers and truly understanding who these fans, followers, and Content Persistence: Establish Content friends are — what do they care about, what influences Longevity and Business Value their behavior, and what insights and value can they bring to companies and their fellow customers. A community is a destination for long-lasting content and relationships. Fleeting conversations from social But this requires true community, which isn’t some- channels become a persistent part of your com- thing you rent from Facebook in the form of “fan munity. Customer communities enable persistence pages.” It’s something you create within branded because they transform fleeting social interactions customer communities where you can connect and (such as the Pampers post) into long-lasting market- personally engage with consumers in relevant, mean- ing content by capturing and cataloging it within a per- ingful ways across the entire customer lifecycle (see manent, active customer community. When someone Figure 5). raises a problem with a product or service in a cus- tomer community, the issue can be addressed by the What’s the difference between I love Brand X! Make sure you Brand X and Brand Y? community itself or employees of the company. The get the extra spicy version. content created during this exchange then becomes Discover new community content — an “answer” for others that is easily discovered by search engines. (With a Get Where can I buy it? Which version? Satisfaction community, you can even respond back to the person in whatever social channel they used to raise the issue – all at the push of a button. Your answer can be searched, found, and consumed by Here’s the best way to set up the product other consumers.) Organizing unstructured conversations by topic type, Figure 5: There Are Opportunities to Engage Socially such as problems or praise, and encouraging ad- Across the Customer Lifecycle ditional activity around them, enables the growth of In a community, your brand can participate in mem- customer-generated content in a branded community. ber conversations — usually responding publicly Each interaction generates new conversations, which because the goal is to facilitate meaningful conversa- are also cataloged and re-published back onto the tion and dialogue that helps everyone. Customers social web for further visibility. This virtuous circle generally drive the conversation, and you can partici- makes otherwise fleeting social content much more pate, as appropriate. At the same time, you can get persistent. deeper insight into who people are, what they care
  • 8. Furthermore, these topics generate more activity over is optimized for interaction, not searchability). Oncetime, which can: customers discover content, they can easily see popular topics and community activity. Ideally, topics• Be used for word-of-mouth testimonials in have a “me too” function; customers can share topics marketing campaigns and ecommerce sites via social channels, helping the community become• Become part of your knowledge base to support part of their social networks. customers To better understand the importance of discoverabil-• Help drive product direction by crowdsourcing ity, let’s consider a real-world example of a company development that runs its customer community on Get Satisfac- tion’s community platform (accessible at www.getsat-Discoverability: SEO Content Lets isfaction.com/pampers). Imagine that a new motherCustomers Find You — and Relevant does a Google search on one of the “Frequently AskedConversations Questions” in the Pampers community. In this exam- ple, she asks, “How can my child model for Pampers?”Customer communities are highly indexed by search Of the 7.9 million results Google reports, the com-engines, making the content SEO optimized and 7 munity topic page for this question is at the top of themuch more discoverable using channels consumers list – ahead of Pampers’ own blog post on the subject,prefer (compared to platforms like Facebook, which which is result #2.   Optimized URL Structure Social Sharing Community Activity Figure 6: Content Discovery and SEO Are Keys to SuccessThe branded look and feel of the Pampers Get Satis- for social sharing of the topic outside the communityfaction site is important, since it dovetails nicely with that optimizes its page rank. These topic pages arethe aesthetic of the official Pampers Website. But it’s discoverable by design, which is why they rank so wellreally the optimized URL structure of this page, com- in Google and Bing searches; and once people landbined with opportunities for topic activity within the on the page, they engage with it, further improvingcommunity (like stars and me-too’s), and the ability the page rank. This same topic page content can also
  • 9. be embedded directly into a brand’s Website, which uct reviews right next to a product on your Website ensures content relevance for shoppers. and eCommerce site. Once these conversations are embedded in your Website, they can be found faster Relevance: Expose Relevant Content to using search engines. In addition, you can use conver- Drive Conversion sations as testimonials on your Website — a powerful way to market your company, products, and services. Relevance means that conversations are in context When used as “advocate content,” these conversa- and provide assistance and answers to customers tions also establish trust. about the topics they are interested in — exactly when they want them. For example, in the evaluation stage For instance, consider the following product page on of the customer lifecycle, social conversations help the Kiddicare.com Website, which is complemented consumers determine if a product is the right choice by embedded community content just below the buy for them. And during buying decisions, they provide button (see Figure 7). When you look at this content, contextual content to reduce cart abandonment. note the questions that are most commonly asked about this product within the community.  They start One important way of leveraging community- rather generic (for instance, “Will this fit in my car?”8 generated content is by inserting relevant customer and then they get extremely specific (for example, conversations about a product into appropriate brand “Will this fit in the middle position in an Audi Q7 Web pages. For example, you can put relevant prod- 2009?”).   Figure 7: Relevant Content Drives Conversion This kind of specificity enables the product page to ¢¢Communities Are anticipate consumer questions and answer them before customers even need to ask.  At Get Satisfac- Engines for Rich, Customer- tion, we’ve conducted research that indicates that Generated Content answering questions measurably improves consumer satisfaction and purchase intent by 30-50%. So we Ultimately, branded customer communities fuel a know that anticipating consumer questions with em- powerful engine of conversation creation, capture, bedded, relevant content doesn’t just make for a more discovery, and cultivation for brands — and in a way satisfying Web experience, but it leads to more sales that consumers embrace because it respects social transactions with more satisfied consumers. media norms for brands (see Figure 8).
  • 10. • It starts by making fleeting social content But these are just the consumer-facing aspects of more persistent by capturing it, organizing customer communities. Communities also plug in it by topic type and product, and adding it to seamlessly to the existing activities and systems used branded customer community content so it by brand managers and consumer relations already has an “evergreen” life (compared to fleeting managing the brand’s social media presence and site conversations in social networks). content. For example, this engine can be used to bring social conversations from Facebook and Twitter into• A customer community then makes those your community where they can be captured and conversations highly discoverable by design, as brought into your CRM system. Once here, this con- communities are highly indexed by search engines tent enhances your customer information to support and can be easily found using organic search. better marketing, lead management, and case man-• It culminates on brand Websites themselves where agement. In essence, customer communities, such you can easily embed relevant conversations next as those build on Get Satisfaction’s platform, are the to each product on the Website or eCommerce bridge between social networks and corporate CRM site. This, in turn improves your website SEO and systems. And when coupled with easy-to-use tools for helps drive sales. community management and moderation, the engine 9 is further fueled, driving more engagement across all consumer-facing experiences. Organic Search Company Website Social Networks & Product Consumer-facing experiences Customer Communities Internal Social Media processes Management CRM / Marketing Community Moderation Your Employees Figure 8: Community as a Social Engagement Engine ¢¢Learn More Get Satisfaction is an engine for Branded customer communities are the connective generating “long-tail marketing tissue that enables brands to align social strategy, content,” and its SEO power makes organic search, and brand site content with consumer it a magnet for customer acquisition.  activities and internal processes — and do so in a way that is socially accepted by consumers. When sup-
  • 11. ported by branded customer communities, brands such as Gilt, Intuit, Kellogg’s, Procter & Gamble, can improve service experiences, create better prod- Microsoft, and Sonos for social marketing, support, ucts, foster meaningful conversations, and ultimately product feedback, and commerce solutions. Engage generate more sales. with your customers anywhere they are: on your web- site, social media, via organic search, and on mobile Get Satisfaction is the leading customer engagement devices. platform powering 70,000 customer communities to help companies build better relationships with their For a free trial, visit www.getsatisfaction.com. customers. Get Satisfaction is used by leading brands To learn more, call (877) 339-3997 or visit us online at www.getsatisfaction.com.10