Hello again everyone in the blogosphere!
This week is all about Talking with the groundswell. By this I mean how you market to your target consumers. Most organizations focus on advertisements aimed at essentially, “shouting” at the consumer… “Buy this product, use this service, give us your money…” This type of marketing doesn’t involve engaging an audience but just, excuse the slang, yapping at them. This will not get their attention or make them want to purchase your product or service.
Using the marketing funnel, seen below, you can start to understand how “…consumers march down the path from awareness to purchase to loyalty. Shouting – advertising – herds them in the big end. Activities in the middle try to pull them down to that purchase, and if you’re lucky, they come out the other end as customers” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 102).
However, this is not as effective as it used to be. Now, engaging and talking with the groundswell involves so much more. According to Li & Bernoff (2011), there are four techniques to be more effective in talking with the groundswell.
1. Post a Viral Video.
This one is pretty straightforward. If you want consumers to understand your product, post a video online and let people share it. The more viewers that see it, the more likely you will be to get customers and purchases. For example, as a girl, I am always on YouTube watching beauty tutorials. By watching these, I come to learn about different make-up products, and become more likely to purchase them because I see how they work in videos, and if popular people are using them, then they must be “good”. For example, Nikkietutorials is one of my favorite beauty vloggers, and the makeup she uses makes her look flawless. She is inadvertently advertising the makeup brands, and creates an influx of new buyers to the brands she uses. Because of her popularity, she ended up creating a collaboration with popular brands and introduced her own line of products.
2. Engage in Social Networks and User-Generated Content Sites:
Like many celebrities, companies can also start to engage in social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. By becoming part of these networks, people will be able to engage with you easier, learn about your products or services, or even ask questions directly to you. This allows a more open dialogue between you and the consumers, and allows for loyalty or purchases to become more likely. For example:
Branding on social networks is not for everyone though. As a company, you must first determine if social networking sites are the most effective way to talk with your prospective customers. To determine this, use this advice:
- Use the social technographics profile to verify that your customers are in social networks. “If half of them are joiners, then marketing through social networks makes sense…Brands that appeal to consumers ages thirteen to thirty-five must engage in social networks because their customers are already there” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 107).
- Move forward if people love your brand – If you know you have loyal followers, then it would be a good idea to create a Facebook so they can “friend” you.
- See what’s out there already – “Popular brands inevitably spawn friend pages and networks before the company gets involved…The existence of groups like this shouldn’t discourage brands – creating fan pages will help you get your own group off the ground” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 108).
- Create a presence that encourages interaction – People want to become your “friend” on Facebook. So, what content are you going to create on your fan page? “How will you respond to wall postings? And what interactive elements – wallpaper, badges, widgets – will you provide so people can spread your brand and its messages? How will you help [visitors] go deeper into the funnel and influence others?” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 108).
3. Join the Blogosphere:
Another option, that many companies find to be successful, is the use of blogging. “Empower your executives or staff to write blogs. Integral to this strategy is listening to and responding to other blogs in the blogosphere – and that’s one way talking with blogs is different from issuing press releases” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 103). Just how I am using this blog to reach you, my readers, companies can also use blogs to reach their target markets. Remember, using the social technographics profile I talked about in previous blogs, by knowing how your consumers use social media and Web 2.0, you can gain a clear picture of the best option to use to talk to your audience.
If you or your company are ready to seriously consider entering the blogosphere, there are ten suggestions for beginning the dialogue:
- Start by listening – Listen to what is being said before you decide to dive in. Get a feel for what is going on, monitor the blogs in your industry, from competitors, and other influencers. In addition, you can always hire a brand-monitoring service to gather a more comprehensive view.
- Determine a goal for the blog – Like my blog, you need to determine what you want to use the blog for. For myself, I am using this blog, not only as a way to complete my course, but as a way to spread my knowledge of the groundswell, and the topics related.
- Estimate the ROI – Determine how you think using a blog will pay off and what it will cost to use it. This is helpful in gaining buy-in from other functions throughout your company and in disciplining your thinking.
- Develop a plan – Are you going to only have one author on the blog, or multiple? Or will you allow many members of the organization to have their own blogs, that correspond with the policies of your company?
- Rehearse – A good course of action before starting your blog, is to create five or ten posts BEFORE allowing them to go live. This will give you an idea of what types of topics you want to cover, plus provide you with the opportunity to really determine if you are ready to create a blog. If you can’t create the five minimum posts, then are you really ready?
- Develop an editorial process – Who will be reviewing the posts? Is it a copy editor, or the CMO? Who is your backup if those people aren’t available? This process needs to be built for speed, because sometimes you’ll want to post blogs quickly to respond to events and news items.
- Design the blog and its connection to your site – Are you going to feature your blog on the company’s home page? If so, how do you plan to do this? “Your design and the way you link the blog to your site will communicate just how official this point of view is” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 116).
- Develop a marketing plan so people can find the blog – “Start with traditional methods – a press release to get coverage from trade magazines in your area, for example, and emails to your customers introducing the blog. You may also want to buy words on search engine. But remember that the blogosphere is a conversation – you’re talking with people, not shouting at them” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, pp.116-117).
- Remember, blogging is more than writing – Become part of the blogosphere, comment on other posts, create dialogue, respond to comments, etc.
- Final advice: be honest – “People expect a blog to be a genuine statement of a person’s opinion. This doesn’t mean you can’t be positive about your company, but you need to respond as a real person” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 117).
4. Create a Community:
Just as you can use communities for listening, you can also use them to talk and engage with your consumers. They are a powerful way to involve your customers and deliver value to them. “They’re also effective at delivering marketing messages, as long as you listen, not just shout” (Li & Bernoff, 2011, p. 103).
Once you have grasped this, you are one step closer to being able to talk with the groundswell. Will it be challenging? Absolutely, but the benefits are so worth it. Changing your organization and engaging in dialogue with your prospective customers is the best way to reap the benefits and learn from your audience. So, get ready, and jump in!
Cheers, until next week,
Li, C. & Bernoff, J. (2011). Groundswell expanded and revised: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing.