Building a Collective Bias
By: John Andrews & Courtney Velasquez
Many folks ask me about our company name, “What is a Collective Bias”? It’s a great question that transcends not only our company but also a new media industry created by the rise of social platforms. A complete answer requires two viewpoints, one business based and one community based. Courtney Velasquez and I have collaborated on an answer.
In traditional models, media companies curated audiences by demographics in the belief that certain audiences consumed certain types of media. This is less true today. We have access to virtually unlimited media sources that we can curate when and where we want. We are no longer constrained by a media producer’s broadcast schedules or print deadlines. Additionally, other people now produce a tremendous amount of media in the form of Tweets, Pins, Facebook timeline updates, blog posts and YouTube videos. In this new model, we all build our own channels blending mass and niche media into a personalized view of the world.
Marketers now face a fundamental problem — how to efficiently reach consumers that are no longer aggregated into large, predictable groups. The most prevalent approach to date has been to replicate traditional models and place advertisements against traffic on the web (i.e banner ads). As eyeballs increasingly move to mobile devices, that model has also transitioned despite survey after survey showing that 80% of people don’t want ads sent to those very personal devices. (Many even sleep with their smartphone under their pillow.)
The most effective ad model so far has been to place simple text ads alongside specific quests for information (search). This ad content is highly effective because it reaches a consumer with intent deep into the purchase funnel. With every technological evolution we’ve seen, the big media challenge still exists. How do brands and retailers reach consumers all along the path to purchase including the awareness and preference stages key to building brand engagement and loyalty? It’s expensive to just sell a consumer something just one time.
Collective Bias’ approach is to rethink the definition of the advertisement itself. The best advertisement tells a story. Think Apple’s 1984 or Nike’s Just Do It. These messages inspired alignment of not only a consumer need but also created a sense of identity for the user. Quality messaging in today’s world of curated content must achieve the same sense of connection with the customer. Though a process of reverse-segmentation, where our community chooses content projects that are relevant to them and their followers, we can achieve a high level of authenticity and connection with the end user. This approach not only creates great social content across many different social channels, it builds long lasting organic search benefits.
The Community Answer
When we started Collective Bias, we knew that social media should play a huge role in the future of shopper marketing. We had a few ideas about it but didn’t really know where they would lead. We started by building a community of experts in the social space (bloggers), and we asked them how they most wanted to work with brands and retailers. Today this community is called Social Fabric®, and there are over 1,400 active social influencers participating in programs today.
Our founders sat around the office for days trying to think up the perfect name for our company when they realized a fundamental truth. We include community in everything we do because without them we would have no company. We believe in community by community, leading from within. The Social Fabric community named us Collective Bias because they felt through the power of our influential collective we could affect (or bias) in a positive way the experience for all shoppers.
A little over 3 years ago I joined the Social Fabric community. I owned a few blogs and was navigating my way through blogging communities to find a good fit for me. I had goals and objectives, and Social Fabric seemed exactly what I was looking for. It was a closed community where I could meet other bloggers to build my support system and work on projects where I could make money by participating in brand and retail programs.
As a stay-at-home mom, I needed this. I needed support from other women who were also home with their kids. I needed a professional challenge, and I needed to make money to help support my family income. Social Fabric provided everything I needed at that time in my life.
A few months later, the company asked me to lead a client program as a Campaign Leader and I was hooked!
Soon after, I became a Community Manager, a full-time staff member. My dream job just landed in my lap! I could work from home while I took care of my small children, experience increasingly rewarding challenges and contribute to my family’s income. Best of all, I loved every single thing about my job.
In my current role as VP of Community Relations, I manage 5 full-time employees, 10 contractors. We support 1,400 community members doing what they love while creating a new media model. My entire staff is made up of former community members who worked their way up the ladder just like I did. We work every day to support, grow, educate, encourage, motivate and keep the communication open with our community. They are what keeps the Collective Bias alive.