“Brands belong to customers, not companies.” The authors of Groundswell posit that social networking phenomena have turned the tables on how brands are conceived, launched, and shepherded towards their intended customers. Readers are encouraged to view those ominous clouds looming on the horizon not as threatening hailstorms, but as promising abundant rainwater and bumper crops.
I recently advised a client to let his company’s reputation for personal service and quality craftsmanship make its own way into the social networking sphere. How? By gathering customer and prospect fans in such venues as Facebook. Let the good word on stellar service and top-rate products linger, in places where friends and families talk about everything from soccer tournaments (“silkscreened T-shirts, free delivery”) to prom dates (“buy one corsage, get one free”) to new blenders (“let’s pulverize Chuck Norris… if we dare”).
I’m especially gung-ho on this idea for providers of community-based goods and services, who can place calls to action that trail user social networkers of a certain age or affinity group or sports team who live within a slice of nearby zip codes. And that, dear friends, is why the latest Yellow Pages is about as hefty as my 8th grade yearbook.
Although your brand’s reputation roams far and wide online, you can still help shape its perceptions. Forrester Research (see Groundswell) reports that over 75% of online shoppers rely upon word-of-mouth endorsements. We fill virtual carts and book travel while hanging on the words of anonymous reviewers, as if they were yakking with us across the back fence. How do those vital ratings make it to e-tailer sites, you may ask? From the likes of companies such as the delightfully-named Bazaarvoice, who make tools that gather unbiased reviews seamlessly into any e-commerce page — yours or your retailers — wherein your products are displayed and sold.
I purchased Groundswell at Amazon because it was recommended by another marketing professional whom I trust, and because Amazon hinted that I might enjoy it. I then gave it a high five because it improves how I earn my living. Socially aware brand campaigns lead to high customer rankings and abundant business. Reap the harvest with the right tools!