Social Media Summit - The LOVE Model

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As companies see increasing value in social media campaigns, it is becoming apparent that the transactional-centric models currently used for tracking and measuring marketing campaigns are not up to the social media challenge. With social media campaigns often focused on brand building and driving engagement, the tools used to measure the impact on sales and brand are ill-suited to accurately measuring the full impact and value of social media campaigns.

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  • My goal to day is to help brands better engage with consumers.
  • The old model for customer relationships—that is, the one still used by most companies today—is built around a buying cycle that progresses from awareness to consideration to purchase to loyalty. Fundamentally, this is an information model where the company provides information and the customer consumes or acquires it. This model worked for many years because companies' dominant share-of-voice allowed them to direct customers through the classic funnel. In an environment where companies controlled the message, the buying cycle's funnel worked really well and was a useful way to understand how purchase decisions were made.This isn’t a bad model. It simply reflects a one-way media environment and technology.
  • Today, technology enables two-way media that fundamentally changes the landscape.The funnel doesn’t work for social media because the funnel is about transactions and social media is about relationships. There are some key things we need to keep in mind when talking about relationships.It’s not a thing, but a series of cascading interactionsEmotions aren’t rational, so it is hard to create a deterministic model for relationshipsRelationships aren’t static, so we can’t just broadcast information at consumers.
  • The question is: How do you want to engage with consumers?If we want to do it differently, we’ll need a new model.
  • Our new model needs to:Help us understand the consumer-company relationshipRecognize that interactions are bi-directional while transactions are one-way, so we need to focus on interactions not just transactionsSince we need lots of non-transactional interactions in order to maintain engagement, we need to follow relationships as they evolve over time. Using these criteria, we can develop a relationship framework that is quite different—and potentially much more useful—than the traditional buying funnel.
  • The LOVE model is a 5 phase framework for a new way of describing relationships between consumers and companies. The phases are both descriptive and instructive.
  • The first phase is Romance. Romance is about introductions and learning and trying things. It’s not the time people want to think about big commitments.In the online world, there are serious pitfalls in moving from social to transactional interactions too quickly as the shift is generally a one-way street. The LOVE model produces much higher returns if the relationship is not initially defined as a monetary exchange. The buying funnel is a lot like asking for a kiss at the beginning of the first date. A quick disclaimer: None of the companies used as examples hereare limited in any way to the phase where I show them. Companies can operate at multiple phases with different consumers. The examples are of companies that do a particularly good job at understanding specific types of relationships.
  • The next phase, power struggle, is about spending time together and working to maintain the customer's attention. In an online environment, if a firm doesn't provide an engaging experience that fulfills the customer's need for credible information, they will leave the site and the firm loses the customer's attention and its ability to control the relationship narrative. The struggle isn’t adversarial, but is an effort to find out how the relationship is going to fit together as there needs to be balance if it is going to last.Dell’s IdeaStorm understands this well. IdeaStorm allows Dell "to gauge which ideas are most important and most relevant to" the public. Users are able to add articles, promote them, demote them and comment on them. By giving users the power to determine the subjects and priorities, Dell maintains engagement while accomplishing its own goals of understanding what people care about and want to see.
  • Stability, the 3rd phase, is the point at which there is no major mis-match of status between the parties. The relationship is stable and the firm has provided a reasonable value proposition for filling latent customer needs. You have stability when:The consumer is willing to go through the process of sorting through the criteria for making a decision, and The vendor is willing to transparently make available the information needed to satisfy the consumer's criteria. Amazon.com understands this extremely well. The Amazon site provides an enormous quantity and variety of information to customers with the expectation that, if the consumer makes a purchase decision, they are more likely than not to purchase it via Amazon. A stable relationship means that Amazon gives customers little reason to leave the site to gather additional information. Not only are there reviews, but the reviews are highly credible because users can comment on the reviewers. Both parties feel their needs are being met in a balanced way. As a consumer, you can always leave the Amazon site, but why would you?
  • Commitment comes when there is a shared outcome. Downloading and use of trial-ware and placing an item in an online shopping cart both are forms of commitment. Purchase, obviously, is a higher form of commitment. Another form of commitment is that displayed by the unpaid “McAfee Maniacs” that handle much of McAfee’s technical support via the Web. Some have posted thousands of responses in McAfee forums, but except for some modest peer recognition, they are uncompensated.
  • The ultimate phase is co-creation. It is about co-creating value and co-ownership of vision. A customer is not merely making a purchase, but is supporting a preferred business. The benefits of co-creation are huge. More on this in a minute.iRobot, makers of the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, support an entire ecosystem of customers and partners. Many have hacked Roombas to add capabilities or create entirely new devices, in effect, turning the Roomba into a platform.By listening to customers as trusted partners, iRobot was able to adjust accordingly and embrace a class of user that is far more than just a customer.
  • Companies that shift their focus from thinking about customers as transactions to engaging with them in a two-way relationship experience gains across the entire range of business operations, not just social media campaigns. The value of aligning interests with one's customers to make business success a shared goal draws customers closer to a company in ways that a transactional outlook simply cannot accomplish. Embracing the LOVE model embarks an organization on a journey of discovery. Like a good marriage, the better you know your customers or the targets of your campaigns, the more you'll learn about them and about how to improve your business, from products to processes to messaging. The best customers will move out of the role of transacting and into the role of advocate. The benefits, however, do not come free. You'll have to actually listen and align your interests with theirs. Understanding the five phases of the LOVE model will allow you to connect better and gain more from the developing relationship with the people who are most critical to the success of your business or campaign.
  • The LOVE model requires that companies shift how they think about relating to customers. The LOVE model changes the role of marketing from that of a broadcaster to a partner in a bi-directional relationship where both parties are co-creating new forms of value. This new way of thinking cuts across the organization and impacts all the ways customers and companies interact. Because the relationship is more expansive, don’t expect that everyone is going to travel directly from point A to point B.Know your customers and how they relate to your company. Learn how to foster deeper and more balanced and committed relationships. Stop trying to bribe and manipulate people to get them to do what you want. This is transactional behavior. Be open to new forms of value. Properly engaged customers buy from a company not just because they like the product or service, but because they genuinely want the business to be successful. Often these important advocates are not even visible to the company, but you need to support them anyway.
  • Rubicon is a strategy consulting firm, not an agency directly involved in social media campaigns. We care because we are deeply invested in the success of our clients and in moving their thinking away from the old transactional view of customer interactions and toward understanding and investing in on-going customer relationships. This is critical to their success, especially for social media campaigns. This new approach requires a change in strategic thinking up and down management and across the entire organization. That’s where we come in.
  • Social Media Summit - The LOVE Model

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