The explosion of social media channels has heightened the need for companies to build and manage their online reputation. It also has created opportunities to spread word of mouth messaging through mobile and social channels. We sat down with Idil Cakim to discuss tips and tricks for building online advocacy and how this might change in the future.
What is online advocacy and why should companies care about it? The second part of your question made me think there are two types of online advocacy: 1. Organic—where people start posting about a common topic such as a product recommendation, their political view, or a local event, creating a discussion thread across sites and platforms. 2. Engineered—where companies rally targeted audiences around a topic such as a brand or a related theme with ad creatives or PR initiatives. In either case, opinions posted online can affect purchasing decisions, brand favorability, and recommendations. That’s why companies should care about it.
What are best ways to identify online brand advocates?
First, study your customers’ behaviors. Who are the highest spenders, who is loyal? Next, find those who are most likely to refer the brand to friends and family and are also a value customer (e.g., high spender or loyal customer.) This is easier said than done. Most sophisticated way is to conduct CRM analytics. For bootstrapped organizations, it may be best to start by figuring out just who’s most likely to refer them.
How do you measure online influence?
It should be a combination of reach, relevance, and the ability to direct others’ choices. For instance, a person who has a large following, with expertise on a topic and who has been able to convert shoppers to buyers with recommendations.
In your book Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing, you give recommendations on how to engage with influencers online. What are the five steps every company should take to engage with their online influentials?
- Continuously listen, even if trends do not change.
- Prepare an editorial calendar with room for spontaneous, ad-hoc commentary.
- Respond to questions, fast.
- Monitor, but let them take the stage .
- Prepare an issue/crisis plan.
What type and level of engagement is needed to turn online influentials into brand advocate?
Best thing is to put the product in their hands and let them experience how good it is.
It is every marketer’s dream, to launch a word of mouth campaign that spreads rapidly around the globe. But only a few campaigns have the magic touch to go viral. How can marketers set realistic goals for their online campaigns?
It’s important to distinguish between informative content, which will be appreciated but not necessarily go viral versus universally entertaining content that tugs emotional strings. So, review the social landscape, target audience characteristics, and message test results to manage expectations.
Will new social media apps that have a time stamp on content and emphasize privacy, like Snapchat, change the dynamic of word of mouth campaigns?
Yes, companies will need to get a lot more creative to create sustainable content. But smart players will be able to weave the inherent characteristics of these emerging platforms into their campaigns. For instance, if an organization is about helping people reach their dreams, it can have a campaign on Snapchat where people are posting their dreams. Once these posts expire, they then go into a ‘real world’ platform to make them happen.
Some companies started using crowd-sourced content from their fans for their campaigns, such as the Dorito’s Crash the Super Bowl campaign. Is crowdsourcing content from fans an easy way to apt the engagement? What drawbacks and opportunities do you see for building brand advocacy via crowdsourced content?
I think the crowds speak the truth—if the idea is not appealing or the ask is too difficult, then crowdsourcing will not generate much excitement. But if the idea is catchy, addresses a big need and is presented with a compelling story, it can create engagement.
What was your favorite Super Bowl campaign this year?
The M&M campaign.
What else is on the horizon for building online brand advocacy?
I think we’ll learn about new apps that organize people and information in more efficient ways. We’ll also move from desktops to mobile devices and then to other pieces with Internet capabilities which will increase the flow of information and mobilize people quickly.
The views expressed in the interview are Idil Cakim’s and do not reflect those of her employer. For more information on social media trends, visit Idil Cakim’s blog dotWOM and subscribe to her monthly newsletter Info-Currents.
Idil Cakim is a VP of Media Analytics Consulting, working with technology and telecom clients. Previously, she was the VP of Client Development at NM Incite, leading agency relations, media and emerging verticals. Cakim joined Nielsen with more than a decade of experience in online communications. She is a frequent speaker and writer on media trends. She is the author of the book Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing: Online Strategies to Identify Influencers, Craft Stories and Draw Customers (Wiley, 2010). Cakim holds an M.A. in Communication from the Annenberg School at University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Sociology from Bryn Mawr College.