By Keith Trivitt | @KeithTrivitt | Director, Marketing and Communications
For years, public relations professionals have known of the power of brand advocacy. But in the digital age brand advocacy is evolving into the realm and responsibility of nearly every type of digital marketer. Whether you’re working on a search marketing campaign or overseeing a client’s display strategy, every marketer needs to understand and believe in brand advocacy.
Thus, a recent eMarketer report, titled, “Brand Advocates: Scaling Social Media Word-of-Mouth,” was a timely addition to marketers’ library. The report highlights the stunning growth of brand advocacy over the last five years while providing helpful tips companies can use to cultivate brand advocates and how to avoid common pitfalls of annoying those who most appreciate your brand.
Not surprisingly, the report’s executive summary sums up what most marketers already know: “Brand advocacy is becoming a critical part of the social media marketing mix.”
But there’s more than the obvious that underlies successful brand advocacy campaigns. Consumers aren’t just “liking” a brand and commenting about it on social networks for the fun of it. As eMarketer reports, they are doing so because many desire to see their favorite brands succeed. And that can have powerful positive effects on companies — if they respect and utilize their brand advocates properly.
One interesting point I took from the report was that while brand advocates are interested in companies’ content, more important is their loyalty to a brand. A CMO Council study found that brand loyalty (48%) was far more important to brand advocates than whether a company had great content on its social networks (30%). This suggests that great content is helpful but being a great brand that your customers can feel proud to be associated with is more important.
So what makes for a successful brand advocacy program? And who are these “brand advocates” anyway? Let’s take a look:
eMarketer defines brand advocates as consumers who “use social media to not only interact with brand pages, but also to actively promote the brands, products and services they love.” They provide valuable insight to marketers about what is, and is not, working with a brand’s products and services and how the brand is being perceived outside of its four corporate walls. (more…)
So, you are tired of reading about Facebook this past week. From the controversy with GM pulling its $10M Facebook ad program to the Facebook IPO. And then the surprise wedding of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to his longtime girlfriend one day after the IPO. And in all this coverage, no one put the real Facebook issue on the table.
Everyone is asking if Facebook ads provide a winning ROI. Frankly, that is the wrong question.
Facebook should not be your social media program. It should be part of your social media program, but social media is bigger. And for that matter, social media is only a part of marketing (and other important business functions as well like customer support). To look at every slice of a marketing program and see if there is an ROI does not make sense. I’ll explain why shortly.
Before I explain the ROI issue, let me first rewind the tape from last week’s events. I was asked to provide comments and answer some questions for a number of publications. As is always the case, my comments were taken out of context. I was asked about GM publicizing that it was pulling its Facebook ads and my thoughts on that. Here was my complete response …
“WSJ reports that General Motors plans to stop advertising on Facebook as GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick said the auto maker ‘is definitely reassessing our advertising on Facebook, although the content is effective and important.’
“The news could not come at a worse time for Facebook, but states some strong commentary on both Facebook and GM.
“First GM … this is the same company that went before Congress looking for hand-outs to save their fledging company. Was Ford in front of Congress? No. Is it a coincidence that Ford has an extremely productive social media program that is fully integrated into other marketing programs? No. What Ford does, that is absent from GMs social media effort, is that they have a strategy, plan, execution, and metrics that integrate ALL owned, earned, and PAID media endeavors. They do not have an isolated Facebook paid media program. Furthermore, I question if Ewanick understands that, on average, only 16% of brand postings on Facebook reach their ‘like’s’ newsfeed as revealed at the fMC on 2/29/11. He should look at Facebook’s reach generator (paid offering from Facebook) with regards to “content (being) effective and important.” The fact is that GM does not know how to integrate social media into a winning business strategy. The issue is not Facebook ads.
“As for Facebook … this news is very detrimental for Facebook right before their IPO. It paints a picture that a struggling company cannot rely on Facebook to help turn them around, but the same could be said about any pure-play marketing advertisement program. The reality is that Facebook advertisement, by itself, is not a great use of precious marketing dollars. Facebook has done a poor job positioning and describing how their platform drives quantifiable business results. Facebook is not the equivalent of having a social media strategy and it is time for Facebook to communicate how they are PART of a winning solution and stop making ill-advised marketers believe they are THE social media solution.” (more…)
MediaWhiz’s search marketing experts share their wisdom in a new white paper
The search marketing landscape has changed dramatically in recent years. Gone are the days of a walled garden between a company’s organic and paid search programs and the rest of its online marketing strategy. Now, there is a recognition by marketers that search, like any form of marketing, must be engaged in a holistic, interconnected manner. It must create measurable results that tie into the whole of a company’s marketing campaign, rather than being off in its own universe.
Learn five trends for navigating the modern search landscape. Explore how your brand can convert online traffic into franchise foot traffic. Discover how to incorporate Quality Score into your brand’s search campaign. All that and more can be found in MediaWhiz’s new white paper, “10 New Ideas for Enhancing Your Brand’s Search Strategy.”
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from an op-ed by Steve Goldner, senior director of social media at MediaWhiz, as published May 16, 2012, in Digiday.
The impact that Google Plus will eventually have on the search marketing industry is arguably greater than its influence on social media. It will ultimately be used to track user behavior at every level and serve up ads based on that behavior to a degree marketers have never seen.
While Google Plus offers favorable benefits for users, there are equally powerful opportunities for agencies and brands. The robust integration of search and social that is built into Google Plus means that there is an added value for brands to establish relationships with individuals. As those relationships build, users will include brands in their social circles. When brands are added to users’ social circles, they will automatically jump to the top of the queue for that group of users’ relevant topic searches.
Google has been the Internet search leader for more than a decade. In that timeframe, it has made numerous attempts at becoming a social media power. Unfortunately for Google, its history in the social space — Orkut, Dodgeball, Jaiku, Google Wave and Google Buzz — has left the impression that when it comes to social media, Google is more Friendster than Facebook.
Many brands and agencies talk a big game about the value of integrating search and social, but Google is taking the first step in delivering a solution. Think about this common scenario: a consumer hears about a product from a friend and his interest is piqued. He wants to find out more about the product, so he performs a simple online search. What happens if a competitor’s brand shows up higher on search? Is there a propensity for the consumer to be diverted to the competitor’s brand? Perhaps. But what brand would want to take that chance?
When Google launched Google Plus, it incorporated what it calls “Search Plus Your World.” The outcome is that search is personalized. Google Plus’ social data is incorporated into users’ Google search results. When Google Plus users perform a search, postings from their Google circles, relevant to that search, appear at the top. For example, if a given user searches for “accounting services” and one of his circle connections has posted or commented about a topic relevant to “accounting services,” that user’s reference appears at the top of the search output. The search is relevant to the user based on his circle’s contributions.
The MediaWhiz team enjoyed a welcomed mid-afternoon break today when professional violinist Richmond Punch stopped by our New York City offices for a 30-minute concert. Punch, who is a professional violinist and Juilliard grad, played a variety of contemporary and classical pieces.
Below is a video snippet of Punch playing a Beatles song, displaying his mix of contemporary with classical violin playing. Check out more of his innovative playing style here.
We talk about influence as if it is something new. Actually the definition has not changed in the past 1,000 years or so, but tactics for influence engagement certainly have changed due to the digital revolution. And while many might consider my use of the term “digital revolution” trite, I think it deserves the entire superfluous connotation as I intended it to be. The fact is that the digital world and, even more importantly, the related behavior changes that have transpired, are extremely important. Thus, we must look at “influence” as it relates to digital behaviors.
So before we have the “Klout (popular social influence scoring platform) — should we care debate?”, let’s make sure we understand why influence is important to brands. And second to that, let’s make sure we understand the types of influencers that are valuable to brands. I break this down in three groups:
Traditional influencers. These are the individuals that traditional PR agencies court. They are pinnacle media establishments (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post) and celebrity-like figures (Mario Batali, Roger Ebert, Tim Gunn) in a specific area of subject expertise.
Emerging (digital) influencers. These are bloggers that have established a large audience following and drive thought leadership in a specific space. The poster child of emerging digital influencers is Robert Scoble. Scoble is a tech blogger whose rise to vast influence started from strong participation and guidance in Microsoft’s NetMeeting support newsgroups, and for maintaining a NetMeeting information website. Another example of an influential blogger emergence from nowhere is Tavi Gevinson who commanded quite a following for her fashion blog. At the prime age of 13, she was a special guest at New York Fashion week. (It still astounds me how she came up in conversations at ELLE magazine when I worked with them.) Emerging digital influencers could also be blogs (PitchFork, Mashable, Gizmodo) rather than individuals by name.
Influencers by connection. Here we have your everyday “Max” and “Maya.” People who have hundreds of friends — no, let me correct that — hundreds of Facebook friends and Twitter followers. These people make posts and tweets and their connected friends react. “Saw a great movie.” “New sports drink was killer.” Their posts create response and action. If you represent a brand, you want to court these people to produce brand action. (more…)
Earlier this week Twitter unveiled its new Discover tab, which the social network claimed in a blog post will make it “easy to discover information that matters to you without having to follow additional accounts.” The news received a lukewarm reception in the blogosphere with PCWorld calling the changes a “double-edged sword … that involves some degree of privacy infringement — or at least erosion.” Others in the tech media and blogosphere expressed similar apathy about its value to brands and marketers.
To get some deeper insight into what the Discover tab will really means for digital marketers, I sat down with Steve Goldner, senior director of social media for MediaWhiz, and head of the agency’s social media practice. Steve works with a broad range of major clients in developing their social media strategies and campaigns, and he expressed hope for a new level of insight from Twitter regarding what consumers are saying about brands and the ability to more finely target key brand advocates.
Through it all we kept growing and building the core of the MediaWhiz brand: a results-driven digital marketing agency. And that growth continues to be recognized by our industry peers.
Case in point: the 2012 Advertising Age Agency Report, out this week, lists MediaWhiz as the No. 21 digital-agency network in the United States and the No. 73 overall advertising/marketing agency across all divisions, by revenue.
We’re especially proud of the latter as it represents an improvement of 112 places from our 2011 ranking of No. 185. It marks MediaWhiz’s first-ever appearance in the top-100 rankings of all agencies in the Advertising Age Agency Report.
These strong rankings confirm that MediaWhiz’s results-driven business model is a success. They also are a testament to the partnerships we have developed with our clients and the entrepreneurial spirit of our employees.
MediaWhiz continues to evolve with the rapidly changing online media and digital marketing space. Our clients depend on us to manage the complexity of their modern marketing and digital media challenges, and we have grown MediaWhiz to meet those needs.
It’s no longer just about executing search campaigns or optimizing social media programs. Now, more than ever, online advertising success depends upon building integrated online performance marketing programs that take full advantage of the interactions across all digital media efforts.
Businesses face challenges on multiple fronts to effectively market their brands online. The MediaWhiz model — helping clients acquire customers more profitably via expertise in all forms of online performance marketing, including Affiliate, Search, Social, Display, Email and Data Acquisition, and optimizing within and across all digital media channels — is what we believe the future of online marketing and advertising should entail.
We’re proud to be on the vanguard of this new paradigm in online marketing. This year’s Advertising Age Agency Report rankings indicate that MediaWhiz’s work is valuable to our clients and to the digital marketing industry. It’s a recognition we aim to uphold in the months and years to come.