Companies spend hundreds of millions creating brand heat and product lust. They are highly protective of their reputation and brand, so isn’t it remarkable to think that just 140 characters can make or break it?
Social media may have got us ‘talking’ but it certainly has a lot to answer for. Because now, nothing is private. Everything is shared. All is passed on from one to the next. And with Twitter being on track to hit 500 million users by March – up from 200 million this time last year, there really is nowhere to hide.
Think about it. Annoyed about something? You don’t vent with your friends and neighbors. You tell the world one tweet at a time.
Want to make sure a company pays attention? You don’t email or write them a letter. You post on their Facebook wall. Because this public global shaming is very effective in making them respond double-quick to your gripe.
In this world, the anonymous comment has taken the place of the lewd comment on the restroom wall.
Social media has given us unprecedented, behind-the-scenes access to big brands and companies that we’ve never had before. Now we can see what really goes on behind closed doors, and it’s forced many brands and businesses to change by becoming totally transparent when it comes to their pledges and promises. Every day this is becoming more and more so.
As a brand steward – as the CEO of a house of brands – how do you thrive in this space? When folks just won’t take your word for it?
They’ve become truth seekers. Truth junkies if you will. They enjoy the truth as much as the drama of obtaining the truth. They feed off of solid, tangible evidence. Brands can no longer simply say they taste better. They need to stand for something bigger, something that guides their every move. Against this, folks will still say – prove it.
It’s why Movement Marketing – what I call Cultural Movements - is fast becoming the brand building strategy of choice. It is an emerging new trend in Marketing that can be found in the US and around the world. It's more of a brand building and activation strategic model rolled into one. A model that leads to perpetual brand momentum versus the traditional paid advertising awareness ups and downs associated with the on and off media spend.
Movements maintain that crucial open dialog. They instantly and directly tap into what makes us tick to provoke debate and change. They give us the answers and proof we seek.
They are about you, the individual. And you the individual are the media channel.
But above all, they’re the ultimate in the sacred relationship between us and a brand – the definitive way for a brand to prove they’re totally, 100% committed to the cause and the beliefs we share. A Movement is good marriage, if you like.
And just like in a good marriage or partnership, when we become loyal followers of a brand, it’s when the vows have been taken. We invest time, effort and energy into the relationship, we give and we expect something back in return. If we get nothing but empty promises, if a brand breaks their vow, they’ll face separation-by-social media – an instantaneous severing of ties which the whole world will know about in seconds.
Just look at what happened to Toyota and its clumsy response to safety problems back in 2009, Kenneth Cole’s dumb tweet about the unrest in Egypt or BP’s handling of the Gulf spill five years ago. Social media is still talking about these examples.
Then Netflix, on-demand streaming provider, ignored its customers’ complaints after it announced it was raising rates and changing its service. Despite 11,000 comments on social media, protesting against the decision, Netflix merely brushed off the criticism and five months later, people are still angry with the brand.
And finally, this weekend, Susan G Komen set an unprecedented example of how one of the largest brands in the land can reverse a major policy decision as a result of listening to its movement, which was riled into an uprising short of a frenzy.
Obviously Social Media is not a brand movement but a movement strategy does include a Social Media strategy.
And the interesting thing is suddenly movements are springing up everywhere. And marketers are trying to figure make sense of it--what does mean to them, how should they respond.
What is the relationship between brand building, social media and the rise of movements?
For marketers there's no way to remain separate from this cultural phenomena if you want to be relevant to what's going on in the world.
So you see, as in all relationships, it really does pay to be honest.
Let’s face it. 2011 has been one of the most eventful years to date. It’s been a time of numerous uprisings, protests and upheavals. But what’s really interesting and different about uprisings today is that individuals are starting their own movements in a bid to change the world for the better.
In fact, no period in history has seen so much ‘power to the people’. Each protest, each revolution, and each rebellion – they’ve all triggered by individuals who start new uprisings for a purpose, advocating for a brand or against state oppression, corruption, consumerism, inequality and police brutality.
Take the guy who took down Kayak and Lowe’s with his computer. Or take the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. Or the North Africa rebellions. Or even the popular unrest in Greece. It’s been a year of revolution as people were prepared and able to fight for change.
Now technology and social media create the reach of the movements. But they are just a part of the movement infrastructure, the media channel (albeit much cooler than TV). Social media doesn’t supersede Movements. Your own movement needs social media, but more than that it needs a higher purpose.
TIME magazine agrees. It recently revealed the collective ‘protestor’ as its ‘Person of the Year’ for 2011, citing the change brought about by street demonstrations from New York and Spain to the Middle East.
The shared honor is usually handed out to individuals with last year’s winner being Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. But given the international focus on this year’s protest movements, TIME felt it was worthy to give ‘the protestor’ a special mention. The meaning behind this is undoubtedly hinting at individual people power being the main theme of the past 12 months.
But why has 2011 been such a year of unrest?
Part of the answer can be attributed to the ever-growing global economic crisis. People are fed up with the financial meltdown and want to see positive change. Financial issues in America are affecting nations elsewhere. We’re all suffering in some way or another.
TIME’s top editor Rick Stengel said in a statement published last week: “Everywhere, it seems, people said they’d had enough… They dissented; they demanded; they did not despair, even when the answers came back in a cloud of tear gas or a hail of bullets. They literally embodied the idea that individual action can bring collective, colossal change. And although it was understood differently in different places, the idea of democracy was present in every gathering.”
But protesting is nothing new. We’ve seen protests in previous times but never on the same scale as today. What makes the uprisings of 2011 so different?
2011 has been a year of change and global movements sparked by individuals because of the web. Movements that used to be impossible are now achievable thanks to mass communication.
Just one person is able to have incredible influence and power on the web. They can start a small sustainable movement that then builds momentum and turns into a global force to be reckoned with. We all have the power to start our own movements and shout them to the world, gathering supporters along the way. Some have greater influence than others. But the playing field is still pretty flat. So why not take a page out of the playbooks of the best.
Apple for example has grown their loyalty and fan base globally by broadening their appeal and their network globally, creating thousands of opportunities for people to interact with the Apple Movement – not just in technology but in culture, music, film, tv —everything, including the immaculately designed clubhouse for fans — the Apple Store.
How you can make a huge impact is by building your own brand movement online. We can create our own online communities, launch our own websites and directly communicate with a worldwide audience through social media. We can make such an impact because of the web that we’re causing a huge shift in our culture and societies.
Measure the influence of your movement? There’s an app for that.
PeekAnalytics measures not only the size of the consumer audience, but their quality in terms of their network size, social participation and their ability to spread a message further. In this table we’ve summarised pull, total audience, identified consumer count, and consumer ratio.
According to Haydn Shaughnessy @haydn1701 these are the top 10 influencers in social media:
He continues: “Individuals matter in a way that’s never been possible before. I’ve been discussing with personal data specialists PeekYou how we can understand this phenomenon better. PeekYou’s mission is to render the web into a gallery of identifiable people. So instead of those well known but mostly obscure names out there, you start to get the real measure of people”
Of course critics will question the algorithm on this to ensure the list is truly accurate. “There were objections too – that numbers don’t take account of quality and that PeekYou’s tools might be limited. Both those objections are valid to a point. I’m open to incorporating other tools but any tool is limited and numbers have a value if we’re careful about how we interpret them.”
Klout also measures your Klout but there are questions here too.
Jason, StrawberryFrog’s social media wunderkid says: “While Klout defines itself as a measure of online influence, I believe the algorithm they use stresses quantity over quality. In other words, the amount of people you influence is equally, if not more, important than who those people actually are. Furthermore, the algorithm doesn’t account for topical disparities.
Is someone who is a thought-leader in the political sphere more influential than the curator of the Justin Bieber fan club? Of course! For now, I believe Klout lacks an appreciation for the hierarchy that embodies real world influence. As a result, it is entirely possible for a 13 year old girl who Tweets about American Idol to be more “influential” than either of us. It’s imperative to view your Klout profile as but one piece of information that must be combined with several others to truly measure your digital influence. As you know, it’s more than a numbers game.”
Keeping the gestalt in mind, there are a few tangible ways to improve your score:
1. Integrate all of your accounts
Ensure you’ve connected not just your Twitter account, but also your Facebook, LinkedIn and any other relevant networks such as LinkedIn, Google +, Tumblr, or Instagram.
2. The Golden Rule
It seems elementary: treat others like you want to be treated. Pose questions to your Twitter followers. RT others & add your input. Engaging with with other people will engender reciprocity.
3. Quality trumps Quantity
Fortunately, you’ve got this one covered. As Klout improves the algorithm for approximating influence, it will ideally begin to place more weight on who engages with your content. If not, I reckon the tool won’t be worth your time.
From a brand perspective, Klout is a whole ‘nother bag of tricks. They’ve established the Klout Perks program to target influential community members. The most successful Klout Perks integration I’ve seen was alongside the US launch of Spotify. In this case, having a high Klout score was the prerequisite to being one of the first invitees.
All of this underlines how much you, as an individual, can do to identify and spark your own movement. And your own movement will be the most important movement you will launch.
Keep this in mind when you think ahead for 2012. Can we see more people starting their own movements, revolutions, stand-offs, and manifestations at their fingertips? You bet we can. It’s an exciting time and today’s movements will make an impression for many generations to come.
Watch out Google, Bing and Yahoo! There’s a new search engine in town. And it’s starting a movement all on its own, giving the power of search back to the people.
Called YaCy (pronounced “Ya See”), the new rival is backed by free software activists and will literally put search into the hands of web users by distributing the indexing engine around the Internet. As its strap line suggests, it’s ‘Web Search by the people, for the people’.
This basically means that anyone can download the YaCy software and help improve its offering by spreading the load of queries that people might search for online.
It’s a clever way of competing against the search engine giants by encouraging a powerful movement. Let’s face it; critical mass might be the only way that this particular David can beat Goliath.
What’s more, its creators not only hope that YaCy will be much harder to censor than existing search engines that filter searches through centralized servers, it also hopes to take away our current reliability on a small number of systems.
That’s to be expected because today, we seem to be moving away from this ‘centrally controlled’ approach. Thanks to technology and the Internet, we are increasingly becoming independent in all walks of life, moving away from our dependence on centralized things.
Today, people are coming together to create their own movements and in the process are making the world a better place.
As project leader Michael Christen said in a recent press statement: “Most of what we do on the Internet involves search. It’s the vital link between us and the information we’re looking for. For such an essential function, we cannot rely on a few large companies, and compromise our privacy in the process.”
But will YaCy be a success? Will decentralization become the new thing? It will all depend on how many people want to see an end to Google, Bing and Yahoo’s dominance of the web. Like with any movement, the power lies in the people. The people will decide.
One thing’s for sure; the monopolies of search could certainly be facing the beginning of the end.
With newspaper circulations down, television commercials easily skipped and social media the number one activity on the web, brands are naturally following the crowd by going ‘social’ and joining millions of people online.
They’re setting up Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. They’re getting on Google+ and even dipping their toe into LinkedIn. Some have started blogs and created Flickr or Vimeo accounts to share pictures and videos.
Whilst this is all worthwhile, many brands are still getting it completely wrong. They’re trying to integrate social media into their old ‘marketing mix’ rather than understanding the whole purpose of social media.
They’re missing the point by throwing out one-way marketing messages like before, screaming things like ‘Buy This’ and ‘Get your 20 per cent discount today! Ok maybe that last message pulls a lot of eyeballs but is that any way to build a premium brand?
This traditional, one-way marketing doesn’t work anymore. Consumers are already bombarded with thousands of marketing messages on a daily basis but the majority of them are ignored. Most banner ads don’t get a click-through - it's about 1% on the good ones. Nearly half of all direct mail is never opened. And there are OVER than 200 million Americans on the ‘Do Not Call’ list.
So what else can you do to get your messages out there?
Today, we are all connected. Today, smart brands make business personal. And they do that by becoming a social business rather than applying the same old marketing techniques to the new medium of social media. They realize that ‘social’ isn’t a new way of marketing, It’s a new way of doing business.
A social business doesn't just do social, it uses strategic and creative excellence, and extraordinarily well-thought through content to create brand lust, engagement heat and ultimately passionate advocates for the business and it's products and services.
Brands that get social media right by becoming social see phenomenal success. Just look at the facts. Nearly two thirds of businesses have acquired a customer through their blog. A quarter of B2B firms have gained a client through Facebook. Company websites that have a blog get 55 per cent more visitors than those who don’t. There’s even evidence to suggest that web visitors from social sites convert 59 per cent higher than those who aren’t communicating directly with their customers. On Thanksgiving day our clients at Jim Beam welcomed their 1 millionth fan on Facebook, after some savvy social by our Beam & StrawberryFrog team.
You see - it’s not just about ‘going social’. It’s about becoming a social business. It’s realizing that marketing doesn’t work like it used to. Today, successful brands become social ones.
So how do you become a social business?
Essentially, markets have become conversations. If you want to become social you have to start listening to your customers, joining in on the global conversation and building relationships. If you do that, you’ll build trust and transparency. And brands that are trustworthy in today’s digital era will fair much better than those who aren’t yet social.
Because in this socially connected, real-time and mobile-enabled world, isn’t it better to be human and real than try to bombard irrelevant marketing messages like before? Isn’t it smarter to get personal and understand that people want to feel connected with humans not logos?
If you’re ready to take your company to the next level and become a social business, there are movement strategies for growth and how you can achieve that.
Apple has just launched a software update to fix a problem that was draining the battery life of its new iPhone 4S, something that caused a wave of complaints from customers and critics across the globe.
Of course, it didn’t help that Apple apparently took several weeks to even acknowledge the glitch. Or that it came on top of lots of other problems with the new iOS 5 operating system – all of which are now resolved according to the software giant.
But will this damage Apple’s reputation? Is there a growing uprising against the Californian company? Are people ditching Apple to go elsewhere? Is its PR team panicking? It would seem not.
You see, whenever Apple has problems with its products, its customers are incredibly forgiving and patient. They understand that issues can sometimes arise and they’ll continue to buy Apple products despite any mistakes they might make.
But why is there such a huge loyalty towards Apple?
Well, it’s mainly because of the late, great Steve Jobs. Apple is Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs is Apple. People feel like they have a personal relationship with Apple because they’re essentially thinking of Steve.
And when you think about how incredibly passionate Steve was about Apple products, ensuring they were of the highest quality and cutting-edge design, you can understand why people are willing to be lenient.
By creating an emotional connection with its customers, Apple has done the near impossible – it has acquired a loyal following. Brand loyalty has played a huge part in its global success. There’s no doubt about that.
So if people will forgive brands that sometimes mess up, how can you ensure your own brand gets the same kind of attention?
Firstly, you have to build relationships with your customers. And that means being trustworthy and transparent. You do that by embracing the Internet and social media. You can start blogging. You can talk directly to people on Twitter. You can use Facebook to show who’s behind your logo. All of that is obvious.
Secondly – and this is the real key to brand loyalty – you have to carry out some movement marketing. You have to stop telling people about what your company makes, and instead think about what you believe in. And what you believe in has to touch a nerve with your target market.
Steve Jobs did this brilliantly. He told the world that he believed in innovative, high quality products and would always strive to bring the best technology to the market. In fact, Apple’s mission statement doesn’t really talk about what it does; it talks about what it believes in.
It reads: “Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Apple is committed to bringing the best personal computing experience to students, educators, creative professionals and consumers around the world through its innovative hardware, software and Internet offerings.”
With this inspiring mission statement in mind, consider what makes your brand tick. If you’re a car company, don’t put messages out there that say ‘We sell cars!’ Think about something that will tap into your customers’ emotions and go for it. Like, for example, the ‘Against Dumb’ campaign my StrawberryFrog did on fighting big mass over-consumption for Smart USA.
Whatever you choose, you have to believe in something that starts from the very core of your business. It’s no good saying you believe in saving the environment if your company wastes tonnes of paper every year.
Apple’s worldwide success is because its mission statement resonates throughout each and every part of its operations. Brand loyalty begins from the inside out. You can’t fool people and loyalty won’t come so easily.
People who buy Apple products know of the passion and dedication that went into making them. They know Apple is committed to making the best quality software systems and products possible. They also associate Steve Jobs with Apple, feeling as though they have an emotional connection with the company. And that’s why they’re happy to overlook the odd glitch.
But brand loyalty isn’t just about forgiving brands for the odd mistake. It also means people won’t go elsewhere, even if the competition offer lower prices. It keeps revenues high and retains market share. You can see why brand loyalty is a priority for any business.
If you want brand loyalty, figure out how you can connect with your customers and start a movement that you believe in. The rest will certainly follow.
Originally written for Forbes:
Whether OWS will ultimately have an impact on the issue of income inequality is hard to say. But one thing it has already achieved is to awaken in people to the power of movements. I believe many who’ve watched what transpired in Zucotti Park can’t help wondering, How can I be part of something like that? Or, Could I possibly help start something like that, based around an issue that matters deeply to me?
Among those asking this question will be activists, educators, politicians, community leaders, tech innovators, artists, concerned citizens—and business people.
That last group may seem out of place at the march. What does business have to do with movements? Aren’t movements such as OWS against business? Aren’t movements supposed to be about noble causes and higher purposes—as opposed to selling stuff?
Those are great questions that I’ll tackle in my upcoming book. I expect that when I’m done, some will still feel that business has no business getting involved with movements.
But here’s what I think. Movements—at least, the kind of movements that gather around positive, creative, dynamic ideas—can help build a better, fairer, more sustainable, and more interesting world.
Sometimes you can cross the line. It is matter of taste. When brands seem to be capitalizing where they should not be they may face a huge backlash. For example, on Friday, as I jaunted past the Body Shop enroute to Grand Central, I heard the store clerks bellowing out “Occupy Body Shop and get a 20% discount”. The place was hoping with styling and profiling execs and upwardly mobile office managers. Most of them leaving with socially acceptable cosmetics under the feel-good vibe of somehow being connected to the movement happening several blocks downtown. Outside others looked on in disgust at the frenzy inside.
I proceeded down Lexington, entered a packed terminal and hopped the train for home. Once onboard I checked out my 360 News App and read on Business Insider that Jay-Z plans a line of street wear, namely a T-Shirt blazoned with “Occupy All Streets” for profit through his Rocawear clothing line on sale now on his website. Business Insider said there were no plans to distribute any of the money generated from this to Occupy Wall Street Movement. Since this Insider post appeared rumors on the web suggest Jay-Z may be abandoning this idea after a major backlash of social media criticism.
There are surely others out there planning to market to and capitalize off the 99% like Daryl K who framed their sale after OWS (pictured here). And, most likely, over the coming days and months ahead many more will try the same. Perhaps a socially minded bedding company can market a line of comforters that when you buy one, another keep warm duvet will be donated to the activists chilling down in Zucotti Park.
Which brings me to one last point, aligning with a movement on the rise is in itself not necessarily wrong. It’s how you do it. Tom Shoes for example sells shoes and makes a profit, but in the process he helps impoverished children who have nothing to wear. In the end movement marketing gets results, but it’s got to have taste, authenticity and help to make a difference.
My new website Uprising has just been launched. If you haven't seen it yet, please go check it out over at UprisingMovements.com.
Uprising is a community of rising talent from across the global advertising and marketing industry, spearheaded by myself.
My vision for Uprising is simple. It’s a place where people who want to learn more about Cultural Movement marketing cab come together to be inspired and engage with like-minded peers from across the world.
By joining Uprising, people become part of a global community of Uprisers - aspiring advertising and marketing practitioners, who all share a passion for Cultural Movement marketing and what it can achieve. By inspiring others, Uprisers become advocates for Movement marketing across the world, helping to shape the very future of the advertising industry. Hope you like!
There is a great piece today on "The Brands That Survive Will Be The Brands That Make Life Better" written by Morgan Clendaniel. His cool piece addresses a new study about consumer engagement which finds that companies that aren't making a difference--to the world and to consumers--aren't going to be around much longer.
Worth the read and spreading around.
Here it is here.
Where are the new market opportunities for brands? A new report from McKinsey, proclaims that the Chinese have taken to consumerism in a way that would make your head spin and with an ease that would simply be unfathomable a few years ago.
The Chinese are embracing thousands of brands. Having said this, the growth of the market and changes that this growth is bringing is leaving all but the nimblest of companies breathless.
As McKinsey’s 2011 survey of Chinese consumers highlights, China is facing rising inflation, although Chinese consumers are more confident this year than in 2010 about their financial prospects.
For global marketers, take note of the fact that although brand awareness is rising, there seems to be little sign that brand loyalty is following suit. In fact, more and more consumers are choosing among a growing number of favorite brands.