In this monthly series, EM brings you tips and tricks from pros and experts who eat social media marketing for breakfast. So eat up, and check us out on Twitter @eventmarketer and Facebook.com/eventmarketer for more.
Why do people buy? And what will make consumers think of your brand first when making a purchase? These are the central questions every marketer has to answer before launching any campaign, be it live, online or both. According to recent research by social marketing agency Social Media Link (sml), the answer, drastically simplified, hasn’t really changed all that much: People buy what their friends and family buy, or tell them to buy. Pretty simple, right? Well, not really. Brands, it turns out, are not friends or family, so advocating for yourselves can be unwelcome for consumers and, what’s worse, ineffective.
To solve this dilemma, the smart money is often spent on appealing to so-called influencers: celebrities, tastemakers, bloggers and the like. But they aren’t friends or family to most people either, are they? According to Susan Frech, founder and ceo of sml, social media can help by enabling a brand to go directly to the consumers who will be the most powerful influencers, or “Social Recommenders” for their closest buds—both in real life and online. EM sat down with her for a few minutes and she gave us the top six ways to earn a Social Recommendation that will really matter.
Don’t be afraid to pay. I know. Mind. Blown. Mine, too. This was anathema like 10 minutes ago, but Susan is here to tell you that it doesn’t matter as much as you think. In fact, 86 percent of respondents to the sml survey said they still trust a friend’s review even if the brand gave them the product and (shockingly) 68 percent don’t really care if the brand outright paid them to do the review. The trust numbers are bit lower for professional bloggers rather than friends, but still not as low as you might have guessed.
The old rules apply. Storytelling and quality experience make for good reviews. It’s always been true that people like to share their good experiences, and if your brand gives them one, they’ll tell their friends. BIC had a ton of success around the holidays by sending out special blank glass ornaments and a package of BIC markers to selected crafty members of the brand’s Facebook community. The brand asked them to decorate the globes with the markers and post pictures and found that the story made for wonderful reviews of the product.
Facebook is still king. Look, stop pretending that any other social media has the power that Facebook has. Even with the new algorithms, people trust their Facebook friends. So dedicate yourselves to your Facebook communities.
Stack the deck. You want positive reviews and recommendations, obviously. So cultivate a community of folks who like you and ask them for recommendations. Don’t trust the trolls of the Internet to love you for you. Even kittens don’t get that kind of blanket support. You’re no box of kittens
Go for scale. Try and get a significant number of reviews, in both directions, but tilted slightly toward the positive. All positive reads like a fix, but a general trend toward the positive with a large enough sample size sounds like legit support from the community.
Be brave. To the bold go the spoils. You can mobilize your target consumers to advocate on your behalf, but you have to get out there and interact with them. Be personable and talk to them and find out what they want from you. Then give it to them. Suddenly they’re your fans. And so are their moms.
See the Social Recommendation Index infographic here.