How has social media changed the relationship between brand and consumer?
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How has social media changed the relationship between brand and consumer?

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An investigation into social media strategy

An investigation into social media strategy

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How has social media changed the relationship between brand and consumer? How has social media changed the relationship between brand and consumer? Document Transcript

  • To what extent has social media changed the relationship between brand and consumer? Patrick Stileman MA Advertising 6th October 2009 Top copy
  • Bucks New University Faculty of Creativity and Culture Dissertation title: To what extent has social media changed the relationship between brand and consumer? By Patrick Stileman MA Advertising VMC Tutor: Ray Batchelor Date of Submission: 6th October 2009 Word count: 8336 Module Number: ADM02 2
  • Index 1. Research Questions 4 2. Introduction 5 3. To what extent has Social Media impacted the communications industry? 6 3.1. The rise of social media 6 3.2. What is Social media…Exactly? 8 3.3. What impact has social media had on brands? 10 3.4. This is what social media can do… 15 3.5. How has social media affected the advertising process? 19 4. Why should Social Media be used with caution? 21 4.1. People are talking to each other, not brands 21 a) Case Study: Dell 24 4.2. 'It's called social media, not anti social media' (Powell, 2009) 28 b) Case Study: Habitat and Twitter 28 4.3. People trust people over brands 33 c) Case study: Aquafresh – Creating word of mouth through targeting influential consumers 34 4.4. What did the Social Network Community Site do? 37 4.5. Guiding rather than controlling 39 d) Case Study: Obama Presidential Campaign 40 5. Who should use social media, and who shouldn’t. 46 6. Choose your media with care. 48 7. Overarching Guidelines 50 7.1. 'Give us the people control and we will use it, if you do not give us control you will lose us' (Jarvis, 2009). 50 7.2. Respect the community and they will respect you 51 7.3. ‘Your best customer is your partner and your worst customer is your best friend’ – be accountable (Jarvis, 2009) 52 7.4. Life is public, so is business (Get used to it) 53 8. Conclusions 54 8.1. ‘Give in order to receive’ 54 8.2. The opportunity 57 e) Case Study: Nike 58 9. References 61 9.1. Bibliography 68 9.2. Webography 72 3
  • 1. Research Questions 1. What is social media? 2. To what extent has social media impacted brands’ ability to control how they are both conveyed and received? 3. Why is the new media environment not suitable for traditional forms of brand communication? 4. How do people use social media? 5. What brands have done in terms of trying to adapt to this new media environment? 6. What has been successful, what has been unsuccessful, and why? 7. How can this information be used to create a form of guidelines for brands when entering social media? 4
  • 2. Introduction The fundamental aim of this essay is to explore the extent to which social media has changed the relationship between brand and consumer in order to establish a set of guidelines for brands when using social media as communications platform. In order to come up with a set of guidelines it is important to present social media as something that should only be used by brands that are committed to using it in the CORRECT way. In short that that means listening, sharing and responding to consumers over a long period of time. If they do not have the resources to do this then they should be weary of social media as a communications platform as the wrong type of presence can be very damaging, as will be illustrated. ‘Where brands tend to fall down is applying traditional modes of advertising communication in an environment (social media) which does not support them. Social media is all about two way conversations with consumers, not one way broadcast...making this mistake is far too common and simply makes brands appear out of touch with their audience and reality, and is detrimental to their over all image’ (Zirinsky, 2009). The outcome of this dissertation will provide the reader with a theoretical and practical understanding of how brands can use social media to their advantage, but also how inappropriate use can be damaging. This will be mapped out using a combination of theory (gleaned from individuals within the advertising communications industry, web based resources and a range of literature) and practice (analysis of real life case studies). 5
  • 3. To what extent has Social Media impacted the communications industry? 3.1. The rise of social media The invention of the Internet and rise of digital media has had such a profound effect on society that it can be seen not just as a technological revolution, but a cultural one too. ‘Sixty five per cent of all UK households had a broadband connection in 2008. Adults under 70 years of age who had a degree or equivalent qualification were most likely to have access to the Internet in their home, at 93 per cent’ (Office for National Statistics, 2009). Alongside this general growth and popularity has been the rise of social media, ‘Social media is perhaps one of the fastest growing areas of the Internet’ (Emarketer, 2009). It has taken off in the UK in particular, ‘By 2013, the social networking population will reach 21.9 million, and represent 50% of UK Web users’ (Emarketer, 2009). 6
  • Fig1. Social media strategy relevant in UK as use increases year on year: (Emarketer, 2009) 7
  • 3.2. What is Social media…Exactly? One current definition reads; ‘Online tools that people use to share content, insights, opinions, profiles, experiences, perspectives and media itself. Social media facilitates conversations and online interaction between groups of people’ (Solis, 2007). This is a valid definition but needs to be narrowed. The reason for this is that the definition above may say what social media is, but it doesn’t say what it isn’t. If marketers are going to use social media effectively as part of an integrated campaign, they must know what it offers them in terms of consumer engagement that other platforms do not. The best way to do make this point is to ask what differentiates sites like Facebook and Youtube from any other online platform that can be used to share information, like email. How does sending a group email not fit in to the above definition of social media? The problem is that sending a group email does fit in with the above definition. It would only then be logical to assume that email is a form of social media, but email is not social media. The reason for this is that social media is so much more than just simple information sharing. According to Universal McCann (2009, pp. 29 –30), 55% of social media users uploaded photos, 21% installed applications and 23% uploaded 8
  • video. ‘The biggest problem I have with the term “social media” is that it isn’t media in the traditional sense. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and all the others I don’t have the word count to mention aren’t media; they are platforms for interaction and networking’ (Hopkins, 2008). The facility that differentiates these social media sites from standard email software is that they allow people to upload and ‘insert content (not just share information) into a shared community’ (Powell, 2009). The truth we arrive at is that social media adds value over other forms on online communication when used for enabling content sharing in a networked space. It is this ability to enable content sharing and interaction that defines social media and separates it from other communication platforms. This means that if brands are going to the get value from social media, they must use it for what is does best; enabling and facilitating the sharing of engaging content in the hope that it creates relevant talkability around the brand or product. ‘Brands need to add value into an online community through enabling the sharing of content, if it cannot do this it has little value, and will be perceived as having little value’ (Powell, 2009). 9
  • 3.3. What impact has social media had on brands? One of the facilities social media provides is the opportunity for users to share information/content with each other about a brands products and services. Essentially this means that brands no longer have the same type of control over how they are conveyed and received as they once did. The diagram below shows the way in which content and information is now shared. It is no longer the brand (broadcaster) communicating through a medium to a selection of individuals (consumers). Now, the brand sends out a message and from that point on, consumers are able to edit and share it however they choose, adding or taking away meaning as they so wish: 10
  • Fig 2. Message control has shifted from brand to consumer: Broadcaster Consumer One way communication ‘Peer to Peer’ communication Push messaging Multiple Publishers (Runnacles, 2009) 'It is this ability for consumers to communicate to each other online that underpins the brands’ biggest opportunity, but also represents their biggest threat' (Diamond, 2009). If a plumber in a small town does a few botched jobs and lies about it to his customers. Sooner or later the poor work will reveal itself though conversations people have amongst each other within the community. Once the plumber has a bad reputation there is not a lot he can do, and is subsequently unlikely to get much work. 11
  • This type of information sharing has been going on for a very long time. People have, and will always talk. Essentially, the rules have not changed, but the environment has. Social media is a catalyst for information sharing and has accelerated the entire process. ‘Across networks, a good or bad experience will be shared, potentially on a huge scale. Between 700,000 and 1.3 million blog posts are made daily and, according to Google, a new blog post is being created every second of every day’ (James, 2009). If we swap the plumber around with an international brand like Habitat (who made the error of lying to people using the micro blogging service Twitter ), the same rules apply. Their misleading Twitter posts became common knowledge in a very short space of time. ‘In 2008 Twitter usage grew 422% in the UK, and in February of 2009 it grew to 1,382%’ (Emarketer, 2009). The information spread like wildfire and placed H a b i t a t in an uncompromising situation. They are now referred to as an example of how not to use social media (The case study is discussed in greater length later). 12
  • ‘Normal social etiquette has crossed over into social media, social media are communities and there are standards and protocols as to what kind of behavior is acceptable and unacceptable’ (Powell, 09). What this means is that brands should address the community in a way that is not going to offend any of the inhabitants. ‘A brand that is popular on social media is one that behaves how a popular person behaves on social media; they upload interesting content and they respond to messages, those that don’t can become unpopular’ (Gower, 2009). It is for this reason that social media should not only be treated as something completely separate from other forms of, often one - way media, but should be used with a human like sensitivity. Social media communities are populated by humans, for a brand to be accepted on any level, it must act in a more emotional way, or face the consequences, 'Today, when you lose a customer, you don't lose just that customer, you risk losing that customers friends. And thanks to the internet and blogs and consumer rate and review services, your customers have lots and lots of friends all around the world' (Jarvis, 2009). It is this new environment that has fundamentally changed the relationship 13
  • between the brand and the consumer. 'The brand is no longer what it says it is, it is what people say it is' (Powell, 2009). 14
  • 3.4. This is what social media can do… This first case study illustrates the sheer impact that social media can have in terms of generating a buzz around a brand or product in an extremely short space of time, and dramatically boosting its’ sales. A t-shirt being offered on Amazon sold huge numbers after one extremely sardonic and funny review inspired thousands to talk about it… Fig 3. Never has such a bad t shirt had it so good…Talkability is everything. (Govern, 2008) ‘14,512 of 14,643 people found the following review helpful: 15
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars Dual Function Design” (Amazon, 2008). ‘This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that's when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to 'howl at the moon' from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called ‘Meth’. I told them no, because they didn't have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn't settle for the first thing that comes to him. I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side-saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.” “Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women 16
  • Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the 'guns'), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark’ (Govern, 2008). This review prompted millions of others to write similar frivolous comments and the Wolf T shirt review became an internet phenomenon. According to Russell Dicker (2009, cited in Emery, 2009), a spokesman from Amazon, The sales of the actual T-shirt went up 2300%, making it Amazon’s highest seller in the clothing department. What is particularly poignant about this example is the fact that the product sold on the basis of how it was talked about by the online community, there was no advertising of any kind, there was none needed. The challenge for brands is to create content that will generate buzz and talkability around a product. Social Media Futures– The Future of Advertising and Agencies in a Networked Society (2009) is an IPA report that illustrates the importance of brands being prepared for a consumer led world, made possible by the rise in digital technology and social media, ‘Consumers will increasingly mediate messages between brands and other consumers in the social media arena, this could result in the power and influence of paid for advertising diminishing’ (IPA, 2009). 17
  • 90% of industry representatives agreed with the statement, ‘Some advertising campaigns will be built entirely on messages being passed from individual to individual’ (IPA, 2009). The strong brands will look to generate peer to peer communication. They can do this is by creating content that people will want to actively talk to each other about, ‘If you get it right, people will actively market to each other on your behalf’ (James, 09). 18
  • 3.5. How has social media affected the advertising process? ‘Traditionally advertising has been defined as, ‘a form of controlled communication that attempts to persuade consumers, through the use of a variety of strategies and appeals, to buy or use a particular product or service" (Defleur & Dennis, 1996). It is becoming abundantly clear that although the central goal of advertising is still the same (to persuade consumers to purchase a product or service), the media environment into which advertising operates has changed. ‘The lines have blurred like the modalities of media – those that consume can also produce, those that receive can also broadcast and it is within this new context that marketing exists, connecting consumers to businesses in a way never before possible’ (Yakob, 2009). Brands have lost the traditional sense of control they have enjoyed in the past, ‘Brand and product related conversations are happening all the time whether the brand likes it or not’ (Powell, 2009). That does not mean however that they have lost all potential for some kind of control, or that social media is not worth using as a marketing platform, quite the opposite, social media can still be the best thing for 19
  • brands, but it can also be the worst, depending on how it is used. 20
  • 4. Why should Social Media be used with caution? An inhospitable environment 4.1. People are talking to each other, not brands 'People are using social media to have two way conversations with each other, not one way conversations that originate from the brand' (Diamond, 2009). Imagine sitting in a pub with a group of old school friends. You are all enjoying reminiscing the past and relaxing in each other’s company until you are approached by a man selling pirate DVDs. The general consensus around the table is ‘piss off’. The DVD seller could obviously see that we were having a good time in each other’s company, he probably thought, 'Ah what a good time to sell these guys some DVDs'... Wrong, not a good time, we came here to talk to each other, you have interupted us. It is this lack of sensitivity and preference for interruption rather than willingness to have a conversation that often defines modern brands behavior within the new media environment and culminates in them getting extremely little in the way of brand affinity with potential customers. 21
  • ‘Social media is all about two way conversations with consumers, not one way broadcast...making this mistake is far too common and simply makes brands appear out of touch with their audience’ (Zirinsky, 2009). Based on its research, Ofcom (2008) identified the following “fundamental principle” of social networking; ‘By extending their social networks, users have the opportunity to communicate with people who share their interests and with people from different countries, cultures and backgrounds’ (Ofcom, 2008). And, ‘Communication with family and friends was found to be the main reason adults used social networking sites’ (Ofcom, 2008). The words that are highlighted are done so to make the point that social media and networking is about people communicating with people. There is no mention or hint at an environment where brands can talk to people. A powerful statistic was gleaned from Next Thing Now (McCann, 2008) social media report that stated that 74% of global social media users are there to communicate with friends. Referring back to the interruptive DVD seller; it is not the product in which 22
  • our dismay is aimed at, it is the seller and the method and environment he chose to ply his trade. He simply wasn’t welcome. It wouldn't have mattered if he had a rare, amazing collection of films. The group of us around the table still would have thought badly of him simply for the fact that he interrupted us. He could have tried to engage us in a way that would have minimized interruption and entertained us, but his biggest crime was the environment in which he chose to sell. ‘If a brand enters the social media world without adhering to the etiquette that is expected by users, they run the risk of invading privacy, pissing off the user and generally not doing themselves any favours’ (Diamond, 2009). These figures inform us that the task of using social media is even more daunting and lacking in impact for brands who use it in an un -engaging way... According to the IPA Social Media Futures Report (2008), 99% of branded widgets/applications are not used and half of all sponsored groups on bigger sites have fewer than 1,000 members across Europe’. This is not good news for brands, the environment in which they are trying to enter is not a particularly hospitable one, and even if they do get in, it is still saturated with competitor brand presence. 23
  • ‘In a UK study by Jam/MySpace in early 2009, 26% of social media users said they already felt bombarded by too much clutter/advertising’ (James, 2009). The social media environment is unique and demanding and those brands that do not adhere to the requirements will struggle as their counterparts gain market share. But those that can make the most of the environment stand to forge deeper relationships with their consumers, and increase their brand affinity. One such interesting case study that illustrates this is Dell. a) Case Study: Dell This situation is particularly relevant because it shows the extent to which social media can be your best friend, or your worst enemy, depending on how it is used. 'Dell had been the poster child for what you should not do, and then became the model of what you should do' (Jarvis, 2009). Jeff Jarvis is the proprietor of one the web's most respected blogs about the internet and media. Unfortunately for Dell they sold Mr Jarvis a faulty laptop. Despite having paid for home service insurance, Mr. Jarvis had to send off his Laptop off on more than one occasion. Each time it returned it had a new problem and in Mr. Jarvis's own words, 24
  • Fig 4. Dell could not have picked a worse person to poor customer service in Jeff Jarvis… ‘blog daddy’. (Google, 2009) 'Each time I dared to contact Dell, I had to start from square one: Sisyphus on hold. I never made progress. It drove me mad' (Jarvis, 2009). On June 2005 he decided to vent his anger by posting on his blog; 'The machine is a lemon and the service is a lie', and 'DELL SUCKS, DELL LIES. Put that in your Google and smoke it, Dell’ (Jarvis, 2009). And Dell did have to smoke it. Little known to Mr. Jarvis thousands of people began to rally around him. His blog became saturated with a tirade of comments all aimed at Dell. It did not take long before these negative comments appeared in front of the Dell homepage on Google search. 25
  • 'The conversation about my blog post was beginning to damage Dell's brand'. Dell's share price quickly plummeted, the revenue fell and customer satisfaction ratings dropped’ (Jarvis, 2009). In a letter to Michael Dell, Jarvis outlined four main points of advice. In summary he advised Mr. Dell to listen to what people were saying about them, and respond with help and advice, admitting they had problems, but were willing to try and fix them. Dell responded to this in the best possible way, they began replying blog posts and even set up their own blog, DirecttoDell, which responded with help and advice to every single disgruntled Dell customer. Before long there was positive buzz surrounding them as they were providing a genuine, personalised service. Dell then took things a step further, they created IdeaStorm, a site where customers could vote and discuss new ideas for the company based on what they, the people wanted. Dell began making real life decisions based on what their online community felt was right. The result of this is that users felt they were actually part of the brand and had a sense of their own control. Dell's previous presence on social media was practically non - existent, and their willingness to get on board only really came into action when they were facing possible extinction. They did however, adapt extremely well to the environment. It may have been as a result of Mr. Jarvis’s public critisism, but Dell still did it. 26
  • Instead of continuing to bury their heads in the sand, Dell listened and responded to their consumers and have subsequently earned a higher level of respect from them. Essentially, Dell behaved more like a human and benefited from it. 27
  • 4.2. 'It's called social media, not anti social media' (Powell, 2009) Effective and enjoyable communication is about listening and responding, as seen in the case of Dell. Why would any brand feel they had the right to bellow out monologue after monologue, in a two-way conversational environment. It is important to highlight this point with a real life example. The much- documented case of Habitat's use of Twitter is perfect; b) Case Study: Habitat and Twitter A Habitat employee used Twitter to wrongly promote Habitat items, he did this by bombarding Twitter with marketing tweets that were disguised as 'trending topics'. A trending topic is identified by hashtags before an item and is deemed by the tweeting community as something of universal interest. The employee hijacked this service by placing Habitat links behind genuine trending topics such as the Iranian presidential election... 28
  • Fig 5. Habitat hijacked the Iranian presidential election to get exposure: ' (Perry, 2009). Negative comments regarding the Habitat brand started coming in thick and fast... 29
  • Fig 6. Twitter users were happy to share their disappointment in the brand: (Perry, 2009). The offensive tweets can still be searched for using the search facility on Twitter . Whether they are deleted or not makes little difference, the damage has been done. Although this is a very well documented case study, it is perfect for illustrating poor social media etiquette, because not only did Habitat use 30
  • Twitter in an arrogant way, they also made little attempt to apologise to the online community for their breach of protocol, the same mistake Dell made initially. Habitat chose burying their heads in the sand, (like Dell) when they could have actually messaged every single person who made a negative comment and said sorry to them, and explained to them what happened. They could have sent out generic tweets saying ‘sorry’, they could have given the offended users special discounts. What brands like Habitat need to understand is that it’s ok to fail, people expect that, they do it all the time. ‘Apologise quickly and apologise publicly’ (Jarvis, 2009). People are a lot more forgiving when you admit to your mistakes rather than deny any wrongdoing. Despite this the @HabitatUK page still looks extremely corporate and traditional. If there was a guide how NOT to use social media, Habitat would be on the front cover. Their mantra can be summed up by this comment, 'Admit nothing, aplogise for nothing, do not engage in conversation, advertise, advertise, advertise. You have to wonder why they’re even bothering being on Twitter in the first place' (Tipherith, 2009). 31
  • The biggest mistake that Habitat made was not the hijacking of the trending topics, but their severe lack of reaction to the events. The one reaction they mustered up just put them in an even worse position, they blamed an 'over enthusiastic intern' for the hijacking (who still remains unknown). Passing the buck on to a young, inexperienced guy who was just trying to benefit the company. He was not aware of the consequences, but he was the one who would carry the blame. The fact that they did not make a dignified apology instantly on Twitter, which would have reached millions, speaks volumes about Habitat's lack of understanding of how the micro blogging service works, and can be seen as the epitome of bad social media practice. 32
  • 4.3. People trust people over brands Before making a big purchasing decision we often will seek the advice from another person or a group of people. We do this because we know they have not got an agenda to sell. This is the case in Canada where a staggering 63% of people consult peers online before making a purchase (Leger, 2009), this is not always a good thing for the brand, ‘When user generated content is negative, it can have harmful implications for building and sustaining a brand's equity, an issue compounded by the fact that readers of UGC may consider it more credible than content that originates with the producer (e.g., brand advertising) (Johnson and Kaye, 2004). This means that even if brands find some credible way to communicate with consumers on a social media site, they will be trusted the least. This explains the success of such companies such as Which? magazine, a non for profit organization that describes itself as; 'No advertising, no bias, no hidden agenda. Just expert advice from an independent source’ (Which?, 2009). Which? rigorously tests a wide range of products and then presents totally impartial, fact based reviews. Which? began in 1957 from a converted garage in Bethnal Green as result of the labour party creating a ‘Consumer 33
  • Advisory Service’. It is now ranked 4th in the Newspapers and Magazines category of the Superbrand Index. ‘The success of companies like Which? is thought to be based around the level of trust that they instill in those that consume it’ (Powell, 2009). If people trusted brands there would be no need for companies like Which? It is important to understand how trust can be built between a brand and consumer. The Aquafresh case study shows how a brand can use people as the medium in which to generate buzz and credibility. c) Case study: Aquafresh – Creating word of mouth through targeting influential consumers The insight that people trust each other over brands has spawned a new method of social media marketing; Social Influence Marketing. SIM (for short) is a process used by brands that sees people as the medium. Members of the public are identified by their ability to influence their peers purchasing decisions. These influencers are then targeted by the brand in the hope that they will spread positive news around a brand. Strategies are employed to help these targeted individuals tell their story to their peers. Aquafresh executed a SIM campaign to perfection in 2008 34
  • when it won the WARC Word of Mouth Marketing awards. Fig 7. Highly Targeted, high impact, product trial experience: (WARC, 2009) Aquafresh created a targeted social media campaign to create a buzz around their new Aquafresh Iso foaming gel toothpaste. Having researched their target audience, women between the ages of 16 and 25, they found out that this particular group were more likely to buy a cosmetic product if it had been referred by someone they trusted. Aquafresh set about constructing an online community that attracted the target audience. By targeting 10,000 ‘influential’ women, identified by Wildfire’s Influencer Identification Tool on the basis of having high social 35
  • network reach and strong category involvement. Aquafresh were able to send product trial packs to each of them. In exchange, the free trialists agreed to invite their friends to the home site where they would share their experiences with the product. On the basis of the ‘Influencers’ online status, Aquafresh knew that other users would hopefully make steps toward purchasing the product having read the positive reviews, and that is exactly what they did. According to the WARC Advertising Research Centre (WARC, 2008), the program reached a total of 1.4 million users, each user spent an average of 6 minutes per visit and 99.5% of the participants asked to be involved in future projects. 36
  • 4.4. What did the Social Network Community Site do? • Enable trialists to share product experiences & recommendations; o This was based on the research that showed the target audience felt more confident purchasing after a recommendation. • Chat, polls, product ratings; o The research showed that the target audience enjoyed simply chatting about these products and enjoyed sharing their views. • Social network tools – send to a friend, upload email address book. o A key feature that enabled the trialists to bring others to the site • Sneak-peaks: making of TV ads. o Giving the user a feeling of exclusivity, increasing that sense of trust and belonging. Although the Aquafresh campaign did not engage users across a variety of social media like we will see in the case of the Barack Obama presidential campaign. A sense of community enabled those once on the site to feel a 37
  • sense of trust and belonging. In which discussions about the product could take place in a seemingly impartial environment. This made the target audience feel more assured in purchasing the new range of toothpaste. One such triallist testimonial read, ‘"Really Impressed! I love the new buzz brush. My teeth have never felt so clean. The toothpaste is fantastic the feeling of freshness that lasts too, is fab. I have already started to recommend these to my family and friends..." (WARC, 2008). There were reams of comments just like this on the homesite at the time. Aquafresh used a sensitive understanding of the target audience and how they used social media to deliver an effective campaign. 38
  • 4.5. Guiding rather than controlling According to Razorfish’s Social Influence Perspectives Report (Razorfish, 2009) there are over 1 billion social media channels. Fig 8. The extent of the social media conversation… (Google, 2009) ‘The battle brands will face in controlling messages within the new 39
  • media environment is monumental, so much so that what it means to actually control a brand may change’ (Diamond, 2009). This idea of the definition of control changing is key; Paul Diamond was keen to inform me that this was not the end of brand control, more so that it was just going through a process of adaption. He informed that it is much more likely that brands will take much more of a guidance role. They will look to spark conversations and then harness the content of the conversation. The Barack Obama case study will now show how best to h a r n e s s conversations. This case study is predominantly about harnessing and facilitating conversation: d) Case Study: Obama Presidential Campaign This diagram is more widely know as the Hub and Spoke model, and is the perfect strategy for listening to the conversation and harnessing it to the advantage of the brand. The hub and spoke model utilizes various media channels to listen and respond to the conversation. In this case Obama’s team looked to reach voters wherever they were, which was everywhere. 40
  • Fig 9. The Hub and Spoke Model was the key to Obama’s teams’ success using social media. (Google Images, 2009). A senior partner at Dachis group summarises the logic behind the hub and spoke model, “you engage people where they are but provide a place for them to come to, a way for you to get all these enthusiastic and passionate people together” (Armano, 2008). This strategy was born out of the conundrum that brands first faced when 41
  • trying to engage people through social media. Their decision was, ‘do we go to where the consumers are (Facebook, Myspace etc), or do we create somewhere for the consumers to come and try and entice them where they currently are’ (Diamond, 2009). The Hub and Spoke model represents the synchronised use of both. Obama’s team used this type of strategy in his presidential campaign to great success. Social media enabled Obama’s team to transmit campaign news to users in an extremely quick time. Campaign news can be seen as a form of content, a form of content with huge talkability. The news cycle has typically seen an incident happen on day one, it is then written about on day two, then it is published and read by consumers on day 3. When Obama’s team used social media channels to upload news content as quick as two hours after it took place. He was supplying users with content in record quick time that no other party was capable of. ‘The people felt they were alongside the campaign at every step, they had a constant stream of up to date content, and Obama’s team was providing it’ (Powell, 2009). 42
  • This content was simply news about the campaign, people were interested, they wanted to see what was going on as it was going on. ‘This ability to share campaign news related content with users almost in real time was central to Obama’s success’ (Powell, 2009). Not only were users getting up to date content, but they were getting content that was tailored to the media on which it could be viewed. “These relationships were built on multiple social media channels, rather than a single social platform or community' (Gower, 2009). It was possible to connect with the Obama campaign content by being a fan on Facebook. At the same time you could connect with other supporters on www.obama.com and Twitter and through other channels. Each different channel of social media was used slightly differently, depending on how that particular channel was used by consumers. This approach not only gave users a slicker cross media experience, but also allowed the campaign to track voters and volunteers across the web, and engage with them through the voters’ chosen channel of choice. At the same time this enabled the campaign to get personal information on voters so that their forthcoming communications could be even more targeted. 43
  • This supported the gathering of data on individual voters that allowed the campaign to meaningfully target people. The degree to which the Obama’s teams’ social media strategy enabled supporters to take the campaign into their own hands, can be seen as an example to other brands. It gave supporters a feeling that they were part of the campaign. They could directly participate in discussions and gather support from peers. Obama’s team were simply connecting people around engaging up to date content. Another example that shows the brilliance of the campaign and it’s use of the social web was when an issue arose regarding the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. Responding extremely quickly the campaign created a fact-checking microsite called fightthesmears.com… ‘Voters could check out the facts on the issue and were encouraged to spread the truth by distributing the message and links to their personal social networks on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. With reach they could never achieve through traditional news outlets or advertising, the Obama campaign was able to quickly quash unfounded rumors and short circuit the typical 48-hour news cycle’ (Michael, 2009). The way in which Obama’s campaign used social media was commendable, but they had a huge advantage; people across the country 44
  • were already extremely interested in who their next president was going to be. Obama’s team facilitated that interest through a variety of social media channels in different ways dependent on how used the channel in question. The major task that brands face is how to create conversation and buzz around them so that it can be harnessed. 45
  • 5. Who should use social media, and who shouldn’t. The case studies have shown how social media can be extremely useful for brands that look to create a stronger relationship with consumers. Successfully developing stronger relationships with key customers will build brand loyalty and, over time, increase sales. There are brands however that are able to meet their business objectives without being well liked on the basis of what online content they supply, or how they facilitate or engage in conversation online. Anyone low budget would fit. It is these brands that need to ask themselves the question, ‘do we really need social media?’ It's important to recognise that there are still brands that are best able to meet their business objectives through other channels; brands which do not need to actively take part in social media. ‘I think the brands that shouldn't be doing it are those that don't sell primarily based on reputation’ (Powell, 2009). Sagem (low end mobile phone manufacturers) do not need to have a brand to sell their product. ‘They don't need to build a brand as they are selling a basic product through mass-market retailers based on price / features’ (Powell, 2009). 46
  • Every company has different business objectives. In Sagem’s case, it is about shelf space, relationships with retailers, price points, feature sets. They simply do not need to have a sophisticated relationship with the consumer to sell their product. • Every company has different business objectives and should be sure that social media can play a significant part in reaching these. • If not then it may be a good decision to leave it alone as the wrong type of presence can do more harm than good, as was shown in the case of Habitat. 47
  • 6. Choose your media with care. Fig 10. Twitter (Microblogging service) is just coming down after huge expectation. Will it stand the test of time? (Gartner, 2009) New technologies are often accompanied by huge expectations regarding the impact they are going to have on how we communicate to each other. This expectation is not always fulfilled. 48
  • Twitter is still in its relative infancy. Only time will tell whether it progresses through to the ‘slope of enlightenment’, some way along The Hype Cycle. The mistake that Habitat made was caused by not understanding the codes of conduct on Twitter . If they had been patient and waited for Twitter to develop and stabilise as a medium, it is possible they may not have made the same mistakes. because They would have had time to assess how the micro blogging service worked. Every form of social media is different, they have evolved at a different rate and people use them in a different way. What Obama’s team did to perfection was to use each form of social media on its merits. Facebook was seen as a different channel to Youtube and used accordingly. 49
  • 7. Overarching Guidelines 7.1. 'Give us the people control and we will use it, if you do not give us control you will lose us' (Jarvis, 2009). In the introductory section it was shown that the control was now very much in the hands of the consumer. 'Previously, the powerful; companies, institutions and governments - believed they were in control, and they were. Now the internet allows us to speak to the world, to organise ourselves, to find and spread information, to challenge old ways, to retake control' (Jarvis, 2009). When companies recognize this shift in control is when they can stop grappling on to what is lost, and start investing in what is really going to engage consumers. If it suits the brands business objectives, engagement means supplying engaging content, a way and and a place to talk about it. The control can be seeded out to the consumer. It is possible that the word consumers spread about a brand can have an extremely positive impact. 50
  • 7.2. Respect the community and they will respect you This is a simple rule that can be summed up with the phrase, ‘treat others how you would like to be treated yourself’. Brands have to behave in a way that is suitable to the environment they are in. They are in a community inhabited by humans. Yes these humans may be online but that makes them no less human and may choose to engage or ignore a brand on these premises. 51
  • 7.3. ‘Your best customer is your partner and your worst customer is your best friend’ – be accountable (Jarvis, 2009) If you have a good relationship with a customer, they will want to say good things about you. The job of the brand is to enable the customer to say the right things in the right place. Both Aquafresh and Obama’s team did this to perfection. Obama’s team knew that people were talking about the presidential campaign, he just gave them more news content to get them talking and then harnessed the conversation to make his communications more targeted. Aquafresh brought positive conversation to their communal site, which served to act as a hub of positivity around the release of their new product. A customer that has fallen out of favour with the brand should be treated just the same as if one falls out with a friend; apologizing, admitting mistakes and trying to rectify the situation. 'Find someone who has a problem. Find out more about the problem by engaging in conversation. Solve it. Learn from it. Then tell people what you learned' (Jarvis, 2009). This is the fundamental mistake that Twitter made after they were placed in the spam category for hijacking trending topics. If they had acted sensibly and apologized, they may well have been forgiven. 52
  • 7.4. Life is public, so is business (Get used to it) ‘We now live and do business in glass houses (and offices). And that’s not necessarily bad’ (Jarvis, 2009). In order for brands to be found and engaged with they must be public. Their actions must be visible to the world (no secrets) if they want people to talk to or about them, and ultimately to trust them. ‘Trust is the cornerstone of all human relationships, brands must adhere to this truth’ (Grant, 2008). 53
  • 8. Conclusions 8.1. ‘Give in order to receive’ It has been shown that social media has had a profound effect on the relationship between brand and consumer. While the aim of advertising is still the same, the environment in which it operates has changed. People now have the opportunity to create and share their own brand related content. This has been shown to have a direct on impact on brand affinity and even sales as people tend to trust people over brands. People have always talked. They have always talked about products and services. Social media acts as a catalyst for that conversation to the extent to which good or bad news can travel around the world in a matter of minutes. In understanding and presenting this in the introductory section, the aim of this dissertation has been to provide the reader with an understanding of where the brands can go from this point with regards to how they use social media as a communications platform. The case studies have been used to show the ways brands have tried to adapt to this new media environment. Some were successful, for individual reasons and some were unsuccessful for individual reasons. Every brand is different, and it is for this reason that this dissertation has not been able to say what exactly to do. What it has done it garnered information from a variety sources to provide a set of guidelines for using social media. 54
  • I believe that by being sensitive to the codes of conduct that exist within the social media environment, a brand can place itself in a strong position to try and enter the ‘conversation’ itself, this time though it enters with integrity and humility. ‘Brands must develop a credible social voice. Regardless of the industry, brands will need to focus on developing credible voices for SIM. These voices will need to be more engaging, personal, humble, authentic and participatory than traditional advertising messages’ (Razorfish, 2009) As brands learn the sensibilities of the environment they wish to enter, they must then set about supplying that environment with relevant, helpful and engaging content. They must try to minimize interruption and truly add value. ‘Brands must socialize with consumers. It won’t be enough for brands to craft powerful messages and push them through different media channels. They will need to participate directly in conversations with consumers and provide more meaningful value exchanges. And they will need to do so in ways that increase their relevance and value in the eyes of their consumers – or the brands will be completely ignored.’ (Razorfish, 2009) Brands must provide a return on emotion to their consumers. Presently, loyalty between consumers is asymmetric. The more consumers sense a 55
  • symmetrical relationship, the more loyal they will be. Social media is a great tool for building symmetrical brand relationships, in which both the brand and the consumers reap equal returns on their relationship. 56
  • 8.2. The opportunity For the moment there remains a lack of trust between people and brands. The solution may lie in brands showing more respect to people by being more like people; More honest, accepting their dark side, embracing imperfection with the understanding that it increases personality and soul. Not smothering themselves with a glossy veneer at every opportunity. Once brands have earned the respect and trust of people. It is a possibility that they could become leaders. Seth Godin’s book Tribes describes the world as populated by individuals who crave a sense of belonging, ‘Human beings can’t help it: we need to belong. One of the most powerful of our survival mechanisms is to be part of a tribe, to contribute to (and to take from), a group of like minded people’ (Godin, 2009) People can never belong to too many tribes, we are in some ways insatiable for belonging, ‘We want to belong to not just one tribe, it turns out, but to many. And if you give us tools and make it easy we’ll keep joining’ (Godin, 2009). 57
  • For me this represents a huge opportunity for brands. ‘Give people the tools, and we will keep joining’. Brands can create tribes around themselves. Once they have done this they can keep providing new and engaging content or products to keep interest at a premium. ‘We can’t resist the rush of belonging and the thrill of the new’ (Godin, 2009). e) Case Study: Nike One brand that has already begun this is Nike. Nike managed to spark a movement by bringing together all of those people in the world who loved the running lifestyle. Nike provided users of the website with the tools to amplify not only their own interest in running, but the interest of other runners too. Nike enabled relationships through providing the ability for personal, relevant content to be shared: Nike Plus uses your I - Pod and technology built into the Nike running shoe to measure and track workouts. While the technology itself is fascinating, it is how Nike used the technology in conjunction with social media. Nike created a site where users could enter and log their workout information. To do this users would create a personal profile of themselves. Once they had done they could chat to other users, sharing content and building relationships, facilitated by Nike. 58
  • Once a user created a profile by entering personal information Nike was able to send them targeted communications based on their individual preferences. The genius of this is that Nike did not have to interrupt the user experience to gain user data. Nike provided a service that directly benefited the user (networking), but at the same time benefited Nike. The NikePlus.com site is now emphasising user personalization even more by giving the "goals" feature (where users set their own training goals online); ranking runners in networks on levels based on how much they run. Thus the brand is building a close relationship with the consumer and supporting them in their challenge to improve themselves. Matching runners up with each other is enabling people to share REAL life experiences through an online channel. The site will make shoe recommendations based on questionnaires to help move more Nike products. And users will now be able to share running information on Facebook and Twitter, as well as add other users to their network. The solution will even suggest potential running partners based on location and training intensity. Nike is adding value after value. ‘Nike Plus is credited with fueling Nike's surge in the running shoe category, moving from 48% of the marketing 2006, to a full 61% last year’ (SportsScanInfo, 2009). What Nike did that has brought them such success is that they adapted quickly and led from the front within the new environment. They have 59
  • succeeded in adding true value to the lives of runners around the world, while at the same time meeting their business objectives. It is the ability to do both of these things at the same time that is commendable. Nike has successfully created a tribe of runners around its’ brand. Each of them united to one another by a shared passion in running. This shared passion always existed. Butt it is Nike that has leveraged it through its superb use of social media. 60
  • 9. References 1. Armano, D. (2009). Logic and Emotion: The Hub and Spoke Model. {online} Available at: <http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2008/02/index.html> Accessed: 21 September 2009 2. Diamond, P., (2009).The impact that social media has had on the communications industry [interview]. (Personal Communication, 11 June 2009) 3. Defleur & Dennis. (1996, p. 564). Understanding Mass Communication: A Liberal Arts Perspective. Houghton Mifflin (Boston) 4. Emarketer, (2009). UK Social Media, Joining the Conversation, {online}. Available at: <http://www.emarketer.com/Reports/All/Emarketer_2000575.aspx> Accessed: 4 August 2009 5. Emarketer, (2009). Fig 1. UK Social Media, Joining the Conversation [Photograph], {online} Available at: <http://www.emarketer.com/Reports/All/Emarketer_2000575.aspx> Accessed: 4 August 2009 61
  • 6. Emery, D., (2009). Joke review boosts t – shirt sales. {online} (updated 21 May 2009) Available at: <http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8061031.stm> Accessed: 17 August 2009 7. Gartner, (2009). Fig 10.The Hype Cycle. [picture] {online} Avaliable at: <http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1124212 > Accessed: 28 September 2009 8. Godin, S. (2009, pp. 7-8) Tribes. USA: Penguin. 9. Google. (2009). Fig 9, . Hub and Spoke Model of Social Media Engagement. [picture], {online} Available at: <http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://katiepoplin.com/obama _hub_and_spoke.png&imgrefurl=http://katiepoplin.com/2009/01/hub-and- spoke-social-media-engagement- model/&usg=__1N7ZcUKURpi2iVaLsL7iHmKiLyQ=&h=326&w=481&sz=10 2&hl=en&start=1&um=1&tbnid=uXwOWaezvbWsIM:&tbnh=87&tbnw=12 9&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dhub%2Band%2Bspoke%2Bmodel%2Bobama% 26hl%3Den%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en- US:official%26hs%3DuBH%26sa%3DG%26um%3D1> Accessed: 14 August 2009 10. Govern, B., (2008). Fig 3. Dual Function Design. {online} [picture] (updated 18 November 2008) 62
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  • 27. Runnacles, M. (2009). Fig 2. The Media Landscape presentation. [Picture] February 2009: Bucks New University. 28. Sanghera, S. (2009). Riddle of the Ubiquitous Brand that Disappears. The Times, 28 September 2009, p. 46. 29. Solis, B, (2007). The Definition of Social Media, {online} Available at: <http://www.webpronews.com/blogtalk/2007/06/29/the-definition-of- social-media> Accessed: 21 July 2009 30. SportsScanInfo. (2009) Market Sales Summary. {online} Available at: <http://www.sportscaninfo.com/free.htm> Accessed: 26 September 2009 31. Tipherith. (2009). How not to use Twitter: Habitat as a case study. {online} Updated: 6 June 2009 Available at: <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/103334> Accessed: 11 September 2009 32. Universal McCann, (2008). Next Thing Now, s.I., Universal McCann. 33. WARC. (2008). Aquafresh : Iso Active Launch Case Study. {online} 66
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  • 9.1. Bibliography 1.Ariely, D. (2008). Predictably Irrational. London: Haper Collins. 2. Armano, D. (2009). Logic and Emotion {online} Available at: <http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2008/02/index.html> 3. Bucklin et al. (2002). Online Discussion Groups as Social Networks: An Empirical Investigation of Word-of-Mouth on the Internet, By Alexandre Steyer, Volume 6, No 2, {Online}, Available at: <http://www.jiad.org/article80> 4. Defleur & Dennis. (1996, p. 564). Understanding Mass Communication: A Liberal Arts Perspective. Houghton Mifflin (Boston) 5. Emarketer, (2009). UK Social Media, Joining the Conversation, {online}. Available at: <http://www.emarketer.com/Reports/All/Emarketer_2000575.aspx> 6. Gangadharbatla, H. (2008). ‘Facebook Me: Collective Self-Esteem, Need to Belong,and Internet Self-Efficacy as Predictors of the iGeneration's Attitudes toward Social Networking Sites’, Volume 8, No 2, {Online} Available at: <http://www.jiad.org/article100> 7. Grant, J. (2006, p.22). The Brand Innovation Manifesto. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons. 68
  • 8. IPA, (2009). Social Media Futures– The Future of Advertising and Agencies in a Networked Society. {online} Available at: <www.ipa.co.uk> Accessed: 14 August 2009 9. IPA (2009). The Future of Advertising –ad industry should prepare for a consumer led world or face decline. {Online}, Available at: <http://www.ipa.co.uk/Content/The-future-of-advertising- %E2%80%93-ad-industry-should-prepare-for-a-consumer-led-world-or- face-decline> 10. James, L., (2009). Should you Advertise on Social Networking Websites? {online} Available at: <www.warc.com> Accessed: 7 August 2009 11. Jarvis, G., (2009, p. 21). What would Google Do? New York: Harper Collins Publishers. 12. Johnson and Kaye. (2004, p. 624). Consumers' Reliance on Product Information and Recommendations Found in UGC, By Hyuk Jun Cheong, Margaret A. Morrison, Volume 8, No2, {Online}, Available at: <http://www.jiad.org/article103> 69
  • 13. Lombard, M. (2001). Interactive Advertising and Presence: A Framework, Volume 1, No 2, {Online}, Available at: <http://www.jiad.org/article13> 14. Michael, A. (2009). How Obama used Social Media to drive his campaign. And how you can use it to drive yours. {online} Available at: <http://www.digtrends.com/2009/03/10/how-obama-used- social-media-to-drive-his-campaign-and-how-you-can-use-it-to-drive- yours/> 15. Ofcom. (2008). Social Networking: A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use. {online} Updated: April 2009 Available at: <www.ofcom.org.uk/advice/media.../socialnetworking/report.pdf> 16. Office for National Statistics, (2009). Internet Access - Households and Individuals, {online}. Available at: <http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/search/index.html?newquery=technolo gy+and+internet+use> 17. Razorfish. (2009). The Social Influence Marketing Survey. {online} Available at: <http://fluent.razorfish.com/publication/?m=6540&l=1> 18. Sanghera, S. (2009). Riddle of the Ubiquitous Brand that Disappears. The Times, 28 September 2009, p. 46. 70
  • 19. Solis, B, (2007). The Definition of Social Media, {online} Available at: <http://www.webpronews.com/blogtalk/2007/06/29/the-definition-of- social-media> Accessed: May 2009 20. Yakob, F. (2009). Talent Imitates, Genius Steals. {online} Updated: 12 Novemer 2008 Available at: <http://farisyakob.typepad.com/> Accessed: April 2009 71
  • 9.2. Webography 1. Armano, D. Logic and Emotion Available at: <http://darmano.typepad.com/logic_emotion/2008/02/index.html> Accessed: 10 August 2009 2. Catone, J. How to use Twitter Hashtags for Business. Available at: <http://mashable.com/2009/09/04/twitter-hashtags- business/> Accessed: 21 September 2009 3. Emarketer. UK Social Media, Joining the Conversation, Available at: <http://www.emarketer.com/Reports/All/Emarketer_2000575.aspx> Accessed: 4 August 2009 4. Griffin, J. The Doctor is IN: How to Use Social Media the “Not Wrong” Way Available at: <http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/blog/> Accessed: 7 August 2009 5. IPA. The Future of Advertising –ad industry should prepare for a consumer led world or face decline. Available at: <http://www.ipa.co.uk/Content/The-future-of-advertising- %E2%80%93-ad-industry-should-prepare-for-a-consumer-led-world-or- face-decline> 72
  • Accessed: 6 September 2009 6. Jarvis, G. The Buzz Machine. Available at: <www.buzzmachine.com> Accessed: September 2009 7. Lombard, M. Interactive Advertising and Presence: A Framework, Volume 1, No 2, Available at: <http://www.jiad.org/article13> Accessed: 10 September 2009 8. Michael, A. How Obama used Social Media to drive his campaign. And how you can use it to drive yours. Available at: <http://www.digtrends.com/2009/03/10/how-obama-used- social-media-to-drive-his-campaign-and-how-you-can-use-it-to-drive- yours/> Accessed: 12 September 2009 9. Solis, B. The Definition of Social Media, Available at: <http://www.webpronews.com/blogtalk/2007/06/29/the-definition-of- social-media> Accessed: May 2009 10. Tipherith. How not to use Twitter: Habitat as a case study. Available at: <http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/103334> Accessed: 11 September 2009 73
  • 11. TrendWatching. Varous Articles. Available at: <http://trendwatching.com/> Accessed: June – September 2009 12. Yakob, F. Talent Imitates, Genius Steals. Available at: <http://farisyakob.typepad.com/> Accessed: April 2009 74