Reviews Are Key To Build Consumer Trust

Gaining consumer trust is an important issue for marketers seeking to ensure that they’re not scaring prospective customers away. In fact, a March to June survey of US adults conducted by About.com found that 84% of respondents felt that brands needed to prove themselves trustworthy before they would interact with them or other information sources. Moreover, the study found that there were 10 primary trust “elements,” or cues, that brands must establish in order to engender trust, including accuracy, expertise and transparency.

In a social media context, customers wanted to see that brands had a significant number of positive reviews, and that they didn’t go out of their way to hide the negative ones. The survey found that 41% of respondents said the ability to see reviews on social networks added to their feeling of trust in a brand. Reviews played a bigger role in cultivating trust than seeing that friends had “liked” or recommended a brand, or that the brand had accumulated a large tally of “likes.”

Video was found to improve trust the most when it served as a complement to other types of content. This ties back in to consumers’ hunger for useful information. Brands can build trust with potential customers by demonstrating expertise through quality owned content that is also devoid of a hard sales message.

Twitter: Brands Can Now Target Promoted Tweets

Twitter continues to expand the effectiveness of “promoted tweets” (also known as ads), and today they are announcing a pretty significant new feature for advertisers.

Brands can now target Twitter users by location with their promoted tweets. For instance, if a brand wants to promote a tweet concerning a promotion that’s only taking place in Los Angeles – they can promote the tweet to their users in the L.A. area, or California or however specific of a location they wish.

From the Twitter Advertising blog:

Today we’re introducing targeted Tweets, an enhancement that enables brands to reach specific audiences on Twitter without first sending a Tweet to all followers. Now global brands that have different launch dates for several countries can send tailored messages at different times, customized for the users in each country. Mobile app providers who only want to reach customers on one device can do so without also sending the message to desktop users.

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Be a Teaching Organization Not a Sales Organization

Turning your sales organization from a selling organization to a teaching organization is a game changer. Customers today are looking for more than product information. They want more than pitches and price concessions. Today’s costumers want to learn something that will help their business grow. They want information they didn’t have. They want someone who can help them navigate their complex world. Today’s customers want to be taught.

Take a look at your website.  Can visitors learn anything from it? I don’t mean something about your products or services, but about the industry, regulation, trends, how to tackle a common industry challenge etc? Is your website set up to teach potential customers when they visit? It should be.

Does your playbook contain unique industry information your sales people can use to educate their prospects?  Does your playbook contain tools your sales people can point prospects to like video’s, eBooks, and white papers that would help prospects better understand HOW to tackle the challenges they are facing? Or, is your sales playbook all about your products and services. Does your sales playbook support your sales people in teaching their customers?

Do you train your sales people to teach? Do you provide sales training that teaches how to teach?

Do your sales pipeline reviews and opportunity review meetings evaluate new and timely educational topics that would resonate with prospects? Does your marketing organization regularly provide the sales team with new, updated, industry data and “how to” information they can use to educate prospects?

Is your sales team built to teach or to pitch?

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Savvy Social Media Users Influence Peer Purchases

For consumers, the golden rule is “buyer beware.” For marketers, it should perhaps be: “beware of socially adept consumers.” New research indicates that consumers who have used social media for service wield far greater influence among their peers.

Specifically, they tell significantly more people about their service experiences, and say they’ would spend 21% more with companies that deliver great service — compared to 13% on average, according to the 2012 American Express “Global Customer Service Barometer.”

This relatively small group of consumers is extremely engaged and vocal, according to Jim Bush, EVP of World Service at American Express.

“They … tell three times as many people about positive service experiences compared to the general population,” he said of social media users. “Ultimately, getting service right with these social media-savvy consumers can help a business grow.”

Unfortunately for many marketers, the survey — conducted in the U.S. and 10 other countries — also reveals a sorry state of service in general.

For Brands, Social Media Shows Returns but Measurement Hurdles Remain

Executives see improvements in marketing and sales efforts, and market share gains as a result of well-planned campaigns

C-suite executives are increasingly convinced of the benefits of engaging with their customers on social media platforms. A February 2012 survey of 329 senior executives in North America by management and digital consulting firm PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit found that the vast majority of companies who had invested in social media saw a positive shift in their bottom line as a result.

Executives who said their companies had established an extensive social media presence reported a return on investment that was more than four times that of companies with little or no social network engagement activity

Companies should use social media to create spaces for consumers to have meaningful conversations with employees and other stakeholders. Almost seven in 10 respondents said they had seen a spike in their sales by letting customers talk about their brands on social media platforms, even if some of that dialogue was negative. This kind of approach builds trust and credibility with consumers, potentially transforming them into brand advocates whose value is immense, if difficult to measure.

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Demystifying social media

As the marketing power of social media grows, it no longer makes sense to treat it as an experiment. Here’s how senior leaders can harness social media to shape consumer decision making in predictable ways.

Executives certainly know what social media is. After all, if Facebook users constituted a country, it would be the world’s third largest, behind China and India. Executives can even claim to know what makes social media so potent: its ability to amplify word-of-mouth effects. Yet the vast majority of executives have no idea how to harness social media’s power. Companies diligently establish Twitter feeds and branded Facebook pages, but few have a deep understanding of exactly how social media interacts with consumers to expand product and brand recognition, drive sales and profitability, and engender loyalty.

We believe there are two interrelated reasons why social media remains an enigma wrapped in a riddle for many executives, particularly nonmarketers. The first is its seemingly nebulous nature. It’s no secret that consumers increasingly go online to discuss products and brands, seek advice, and offer guidance. Yet it’s often difficult to see where and how to influence these conversations, which take place across an ever-growing variety of platforms, among diverse and dispersed communities, and may occur either with lightning speed or over the course of months. Second, there’s no single measure of social media’s financial impact, and many companies find that it’s difficult to justify devoting significant resources—financial or human—to an activity whose precise effect remains unclear.

What we hope to do here is to demystify social media. We have identified its four primary functions—to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior—and linked them to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions. Being able to identify exactly how, when, and where social media influences consumers helps executives to craft marketing strategies that take advantage of social media’s unique ability to engage with customers. It should also help leaders develop, launch, and demonstrate the financial impact of social-media campaigns

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3 PR lessons from Heineken’s crisis

Photos of a dogfight with prominent Heineken branding went viral. The beer maker has denied knowledge of the event, but that hasn’t stopped the criticism.

There’s crisis control, and then there’s the ordeal that Heineken is facing.

The beer maker has been slammed in traditional and social media since photos of a dogfight with prominent Heineken branding went viral.

Heineken has denied knowledge of the event, which apparently occurred at a Mongolian nightclub in 2011. Any sane person would realize right away that Heineken is probably not sponsoring dog fighting. But it wouldn’t be the Internet if everyone were of sound mind.

Naturally, the masses took to Heineken’s Facebook page to berate the company. What could it do? Blindsided by the photo, Heineken launched into action.

On Tuesday, Heineken posted twice to its Facebook page—first at 2:00 a.m. Central Time and again at 5:44 a.m. The company moved quickly to investigate and craft a response, which can be found on its website and its Facebook page.

Here are few lessons we can take from Heineken’s misfortune:

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