March 19, 2013
A company’s employees are its most powerful brand advocates, but few companies know how to effectively empower their employees to advocate their brands. Learning how to do it should be a top priority for every company and brand, particularly for generating online brand advocacy where the reach and influence of your employees could be significant.
Of course, employees have to be happy and have to believe in the brand promise in order to want to advocate it to their own connections and online audiences. That’s where a company needs to start — with a focus on internal brand building.
Next, you need to give your employees the tools they need to advocate your brand in the ways you want them to. This is particularly important for workforces that are spread out in multiple locations. Using a tool like the employee advocacy software from Expion can help you manage the process, but you need to create your strategy and brand advocacy plan first.
You can’t expect your employees will know what to do. It’s up to you to guide them to advocate the brand properly. To help you get started, following are five ways you can turn your employees into vocal brand advocates online:
1. Give your employees the messages you want them to share.
What do you want your employees to say about your brand in their online conversations? What messages would make them proud to share information about their company and your brand? Can you give them messages that would be useful and meaningful to their friends, family, and online connections? Don’t assume they’ll relay every message you give them, and don’t give them sales-oriented messages. Very few employees will want to broadcast marketing and sales messages from their employer to their connections, but many will want to share useful information.
2. Give your employees the content you want them to talk about and share.
Beyond giving your employees messages, give them actual content to talk about and share online. This includes videos, infographics, images, slideshows, ebooks, and so on. This content should be meaningful, useful, or entertaining or none of your employees will share it. The goal for employee brand advocacy should be to build brand awareness across wider audiences that can lead to sales at a relatively low cost . With that in mind, keep self-promotion to a minimum. Focus on brand storytelling and tapping into emotions in your content, so people will want to share it.
3. Acknowledge your employees who actively advocate your brand online.
Don’t let your employees’ brand advocacy activities go unnoticed. Respond to them online. Acknowledge them offline as well. This acknowledgement should include company recognition and personal appreciation on a one-to-one basis. They’ll have more motivation to continue talking about your brand if they feel appreciated for their efforts.
4. Show your employees the results of their online brand advocacy efforts.
If your employees’ online brand advocacy efforts are showing measurable results, make sure they’re aware of the effects their activities are having on the brand and company. They’ll feel more motivated to keep up their efforts knowing that those efforts are actually having an impact.
5. Reward your employees who actively advocate your brand online.
If you can tie brand advocacy efforts back to individual employees, then you should have a method in place to not just acknowledge those employees but also to reward employees who are extremely active or driving real results for the company through their efforts. This is essential if you can tie employee advocacy efforts directly to sales and revenues. Internal brand advocacy can help your company drive word-of-mouth marketing at a fraction of the cost other marketing initiatives would require, so make sure you reward your top employee influencers whose advocacy leads directly to sales.
Image: Svilen Milev
March 2, 2013
What happens when the face of your non-profit organization is publicly disgraced?
That’s what Livestrong faced when cyclist Lance Armstrong admitted to using illegal substances throughout his career. He was stripped of his Tour de France titles and his affiliation with the organization that he helped to start. Call in the crisis team because like so many celebrity brand endorsements before, the man’s revelation brought the brand under a negative spotlight, too.
With the non-profit organization separated from Lance Armstrong, Livestrong has rebranded as Livestrong Foundation with a new logo and a new focus on the foundation, not the man who was once the face of the foundation. The old and new logos are shown above, and most people probably won’t even remember that “Foundation” wasn’t part of the logo in its previous version. However, the redesign does better position the brand away from Lance Armstrong. It’s subtle and simple, but it works.
In a speech (you can follow the link to read the transcript) from Executive VP of Operations from Livestrong Foundation, Andy Miller, which was delivered at the annual Livestrong “State of the Foundation” address on February 28, 2013, the point was made that the rebranding is part of the foundation’s efforts, “towards becoming more us, more clear, and doing more work.” In other words, Livestrong Foundation wants to become “more us” and “less Lance.” Andy said:
“We accepted the apology he made to us in order to move on and we remain grateful for what he decided to create and helped build. As the world poses the questions, “Is the LIVESTRONG Foundation bigger than its founder? Will it survive?” The answer is a resounding yes. Our success has never been based on one person — it’s based on the patients and survivors we serve every day, who approach a cancer diagnosis with hope, courage and perseverance.”
Livestrong Foundation is taking the rights steps to move past its affiliation with Lance Armstrong, but finding new ways to recoup earnings from merchandise sales will be a tough battle. The “cool” factor that many people felt when they wore a bracelet, jacket, or other item with the Livestrong logo on it has disappeared with the fall of Lance Armstrong’s celebrity status.
The Livestrong Foundation has a tough road ahead of it and changes will need to be made internally to get through this time, but at the end of the day, the organization’s mission is an important one. Hopefully, it will continue to navigate through the negative publicity it’s facing right now and come out on the other side with a stronger brand than before.
I think Andy summed up why this brand can survive a celebrity disaster quite well in his speech when he said:
“The real reason the Foundation took root is that it touched a chord deep in all of us. It inspired us to take action! But we didn’t do it for Lance. We did it for our loved ones. Our husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters. We did for our children. We did it for our friends and neighbors. We did it for ourselves. Because we believe in life! We believe living every minute of it with every ounce of our being. And that you must not let cancer take control of it!”
Repositioning the brand away from “the Lance Armstrong charity” and toward “the charity that helps people with cancer” should be the Livestrong Foundation’s top priority. And of course, avoiding dependencies on celebrity endorsements and spokespeople should be at the top of the list of things not to do again.
February 20, 2013
It’s hard to resist the success of Apple retail stores when you’re a competitor like Google. First, Microsoft copied the look and feel of Apple brick-and-mortar stores, and now The Wall Street Journal reports that Google retail stores are coming with Google Inc. reportedly, “studying Apple Inc.’s playbook for building a consumer-electronics brand. [Google] stores would likely sell Google-branded hardware.”
It’s unknown if Google will actually follow through and launch retail stores, but there is certainly no ignoring how well the Apple retail stores have helped to not only sell Apple products but also to create brand experiences that drive loyalty. For both tech-savvy consumers and tech novices, Apple stores can be hard to resist when a consumer walks by the sleek window displays and crowds of people testing out everything from Angry Birds on an iPad to Facebook on an iPhone.
The Wall Street Journal speculates that products like Google’s Chromebook laptops, phones manufactured by Google’s Motorola Mobility, and the highly buzzed about Google Glass product, which is expected to go on sale next year, could all find places on the retail shelves of a Google brick-and-mortar store. It’s easy to imagine that Google could use its retail stores to allow consumers to demo its tools and applications, including its Google TV software.
I can see Google retail stores doing everything that’s being speculated. In addition, retail stores would be a perfect place for Google to demo its suite of business applications. Imagine how easily Google could integrate its products and applications into various aspects of each customer’s purchased technology. The possibilities are endless as Google continues to find new ways to integrate its search, social, and other products.
The question is whether or not retail stores represent the right strategy for Google. The brand is so closely aligned with “virtual” that creating brick-and-mortar stores seems to run counter to its image. That’s not to say retail stores won’t work. They could be very popular and would give Google a way to create tangible brand experiences that demonstrate how important Google is to its customers’ lives. That’s a form of brand building that can deliver significant results. In-person brand experiences can give a brand new meaning that leads to powerful consumer relationships.
What do you think? Are you hoping to see a Google retail store in your local area in the future or do you think this is the wrong strategy for Google? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Image: Caroline Hoos
February 12, 2013
Consumers talk about brands. They talk about brands to friends, family, and even strangers both online and offline, but how can marketers leverage those conversations to build brands?
That’s one of the questions inTV and InSites Consulting tried to answer in a recent online survey of 1,600 people in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Italy. According to the results presentation, which you can see below, 90% of conversations about brands happen offline.
The good news is that brand sentiment is usually positive among people discussing brands and those discussions typically boost opinions about the brand among the wider audience in a positive direction.
Specifically, consumers indicated that brand conversations teach them new things about a brand or product and often motivate them to seek out additional information about the brand or product and to share information about the brand or product with other people. Moving down the purchase funnel, consumers also reported that brand conversations make them consider, choose, or buy a specific brand, and these conversations reassure them that they’ve made the right brand purchase decisions.
While the report clearly shows that brand conversations drive awareness, purchases, and word-of-mouth marketing, the intangible gains in terms of positive brand sentiment and developing an emotional connection between consumers and a brand are equally important. By leveraging brand conversations to not only share information and increase sales but also using conversations to reassure consumers and connect with them on an emotional level, brand marketers will build brand loyalty that will keep brand conversations and brand purchases going. It’s this perpetual marketing driving by brand conversations that brand marketers should leverage, fuel, and reward.
You can view the complete report by following the link above, which breaks results up into six categories: automotive, smartphones and tablets, banking, watches, travel destinations, and airlines.
What do you think are the best ways to leverage brand conversations? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Image: Flavio Takemoto
January 31, 2013
Big data has been a hot topic for a couple of years, and brands are finally finding ways to tap into big data and leverage it to drive revenue. We’re still a long way from getting everything out of big data that it has to offer, but with companies creating positions like Data Architect and Chief Data Officer, the importance of collecting and using big data should continue to grow well into the future.
As Gian Fulgoni of comScore reports, big data is one of the “top ten burning issues in digital,” and when you take a closer look at the data behind big data, you can see why this statement is so accurate. Gian shared the following statistics on the comScore blog that put things into perspective (you can follow the preceding link to read all of the details from Gian):
- The smartphones we use today would have been the most powerful computers in the world in 1985.
- 120 million people in the United States own smartphones, which is up by 30 million in the past year alone.
- For just $600 you can buy a disk that can store all of the music in the world.
- 30+ billion pieces of data are added to Facebook every month.
- 72 hours of video are added to YouTube every minute.
- ComScore was capturing 1.4 trillion digital interactions per month at the end of 2012.
- 92% of the world’s data was created in only the past two years.
While I always caution against falling victim to data paralysis, which happens when you have access to so much data that you can’t make a decision or move forward. Too much data without a clear reason for collecting it, analyzing it, and using it, amounts to noise and clutter. Always use data with purpose and avoid the ease of massaging data to fit agendas.
The power of big data comes from the trends and truths it uncovers. Picking and choosing the data you focus on, present to executives, and use to make decisions might work in the short-term, but the truths of data will make themselves known in the long-term. Instead, review the data, question the data, and learn when to believe in it. Only then can it help you make the right marketing decisions.
The best marketing team has both analytical minds and creative minds working together to interpret and use big data. It’s that human element that turns big data into big business opportunities and results.
What do you think?