Why social media reach has nothing to do with involvement

Curtain call for: the consumer! / Classic marketing showcases the product. Collaborative Marketing celebrates the consumer.

Nowadays, some 80% of online content is user generated*. Consumers have taken centre stage and hijacked the microphone. Instead of painstakingly showcasing their products in a style representative of classic marketing, today businesses and brands can profit by inviting consumers to their stage. The secret is to focus on the so-called “curator class” rather than on high fan numbers. Just look at the majority of thriving collaborative platforms, where consumers and brands engage in a dialogue to bring value added to both sides.

One example is Lady Gaga. She operates a highly successful community that concentrates on a small percentage of her hardcore fans – her so-called “little monsters”. The term stems from one of her songs and is also the name of her platform. Although Lady Gaga may take centre stage when she performs, within her community it’s the fans who steal the limelight – all the while basking in the glamour of their idol.

It’s this principle that Collaborative Marketing providers and enablers like trnd adhere to. The credo: Collaborative Marketing brings business and consumers together, helping to channel consumers’ energy and individual skill sets into profitable marketing. Collaborative Marketing projects by trnd work because they filter, address and secure the most dedicated members – regardless whether a project requires 50, 500 or 15,000 consumers.

At trnd, consumers are recruited from a pool currently numbering some 2 million members. Some businesses are already using the technical solution trndsphere on their own to transform millions of their customers and advocators into unpaid marketing messengers. As soon as genuine fans enter into a dialogue with a brand, they begin to discuss it within their own circles. Not because they expect an incentive, but because they’re excited about the brand, the project and the contribution they, as individuals, are making. They don’t just want to buy a product. They want to help promote new products, to contribute to shaping the product’s future and to tell others all about it.

Consumer approval translates into sales

The value added for companies is obvious: a competitive edge and sustainable rates of growth. Consumers on the other hand profit from optimised products and the exhilarating experience of supporting their favourite brands. Passionate consumers can make a real difference to a market and this difference translates into sales. Sales are the consumer giving the business a figurative round of applause. These are consumers who can identify with a brand, who feel involved, who the brand listens too and regards as friendly neighbours rather than faceless shoppers. They may also be consumers who have been “recruited” and introduced to the brand by other “super fans”. Businesses often completely neglect the diverse range of skills and the energy their consumers can bring to the marketing table. But the best thing companies can do is to work with them. It’s a unique opportunity to unlock the potential of thousands of consumers.

What do consumers really want?

One of the first questions is: do consumers really want to join us on stage? The answer is yes, they want it more than ever. Research backs this theory up. Nine out of ten consumers wish there was more mutual appreciation by brands, as one of the latest brandshare case studies by PR agency Edelman in 2014 shows. Some 80% of consumers want brands to listen to them, but only 13% believe this is currently the case.

It is not just consumers’ desire for more intensive brand relations that supports the idea of Collaborative Marketing. The level of trust consumers have in specific advertising is further proof. Over 80% of consumers trust recommendations by friends and family, as Nielsen has been showing for years in its “Global Trust in Advertising and Brands” research. Less than half of consumers are convinced by TV commercials and under a third trust online ads and banners.

The same applies both online and offline: Word-of-Mouth recommendations from existing contacts are much more credible than traditional advertising. They hugely impact brand perception and how consumer opinions are formed, thus boosting the purchase probability. This notion is backed-up by the case study “Return on WOM” carried out by independent US research company Analytic Partners and published in November 2014. It found that 13% of all market sales, a total of some 6 billion US dollars, are the result of online or offline conversations and recommendations. It’s a strong contrast to the 20-30% of sales generated by conventional advertising, and a clear indication of how powerful Word-of-Mouth can be.

Intensifying dialogues with consumers is definitely a worthwhile strategy. And this is where Collaborative Marketing begins. It links businesses and consumers, helping to unleash new skill sets and channel members’ energy into profitable marketing ideas for a brand.

To conclude, the size of a database size is no longer central. What really matters is whether a business has the tools, the skills and the resolve to create a platform where they can engage with a group of people excited about the prospect of working together.

*Fjord Trends 2013 http://ctap.it/VO7GEh

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