Tag Archives: shopper media

Socializing the Customer Experience

Written by Brad Lawless

Do Your Social Accounts Reflect Your Customer Service Ethos?

Do Your Social Accounts Truly Represent Your Brand Promise?

Shopper Social Marketing Shouldn’t End at the Cash Register

The Internet provides unlimited access to product and pricing information along a shopper’s path to purchase. While some choose to research a product at home on their laptop or tablet, others stand in front of one retailer’s shelf and use their smartphone to discover product details or find competitive pricing from other retailers.

Forrester analysts predicted that 50% of American shoppers would “access the Internet multiple times a day, from multiple locations, with at least three devices” by the end of 2013. These ultra-connected shoppers expect not only always-on access to information but also want new levels of responsiveness from brands and retailers in their experiences as customers.

Social media has transformed the way many brands market to their shoppers, but few companies truly understand how social content and platforms can help them in their customer experience management efforts. According to 360Connext.com, “86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that organizations consistently meet, or exceed, their expectations.” Engaging with fans through social platforms can definitely help a company exceed, or at the very least, meet the expectations of those shoppers.

I recently sat down with Jeannie Walters, 360Connext CEO, to discuss the changing nature of customer experience in the ever evolving world of social media.

Brad: What are the customer experience table stakes for companies today? In other words, what must companies do to ensure good customer experiences with social media?

Jeannie: Companies need to have a plan of action for responding to customers’ social media inquires, and then they actually need to follow through and respond. Customers today expect real time responses in social and digital. When they look for help in those channels, you need to be ready to respond or manage their expectations regarding other places they need to go to find answers to their questions.

Brad: How has social media changed general expectations for customers today and is it reasonable?

Jeannie: Customers want their problems solved. Expectations change along with emotions. If I’ve already called the store or had something repaired and it breaks again, my emotions start to escalate. People are irrational. When we get upset, we expect someone to quickly address our reason for getting upset.

Brad: What’s the benefit to companies for addressing customer concerns in a timely manner?

Jeannie: Loyalty can go up if you if you address concerns in the right way, if you solve a problem with empathy and compassion. I’ve seen loyalty ratings swing as much as 12% in those cases.

I recently read of a customer experience experiment in the medical industry. For years, doctors have been advised by lawyers never to apologize for mistakes. The lawyers felt apologies would open up potential for increased malpractice suits. In this case, the researchers found that simple apologies actually decreased the incidents of malpractice suits.

Brad: What’s the biggest customer service gaffe you’ve seen online?

Jeannie: I don’t want to name specific brands, but the worst thing is when the person representing the brand becomes personally offended and starts to respond to complaints as an individual. At that point, they start lashing out at people under their care. I think we’re beyond some of that due to smarter hiring practices. Today’s social media manager is necessarily much more savvy than people doing the job a few years ago.

A more consistent issue is neglect. If a product or restaurant receives a 4-star review online, that post often contains clues on why the reviewer withheld the critical 5th star. Most companies ignore the advice their customers give on how to move from adequacy to excellence.

People love to focus on the practice of social media complaints, but many brands never respond to the natural advocates talking positively about their brand. A simple thanks for some online support will go a long way in transforming a once-in-a-while cheerleader into a passionate fan.

Brad: What’s the best customer service example you’ve seen in social?

Jeannie: Warby-Parker — They are exceptional. They go out of their way to give video shout-outs to people who are fans. I mentioned them once in a blog post and they hit me up on Twitter that same day.

Brad: What still can’t be done in social?

Jeannie: Anything complicated that requires a lot of touch points.

Last year, I experienced so much pain just ordering a Father’s Day grill. I paid extra to have someone come and set it up. They arrived late, dropped the box on my porch and left. I tried to reach someone via social, but realized the big brand was too siloed to do anything about specific about deliveries. The social manager had no pull with the delivery department, so I Just stuck to calling them on the phone.

When people use social to get product info, they don’t want to talk with the person managing the brand’s Twitter account. They want direct access to a product expert.

Brad: What one piece of advice would you give companies to improve their social customer experience management?

Jeannie: It starts with the foundation of the promise. What are you promising in your customer experience? Companies should completely understand the foundation of their customer experience promise and ensure their  social accounts reflect that ethos.

Most brands get very excited about the promise of social, but their resulting implementations come across as very dry or miss the brand promise. Solving a shopper’s problems with social means not only getting them necessary information prior to the sales, but staying around to support them with answers and additional usage information after they take the product home.




The Blog Marketing Insurgency Has Begun. Viva La Revolution!

Written by John Andrews

The media landscape is changing constantly, with blog marketing currently at the forefront. But let’s start with a little history lesson.

I’ve been thinking about Daniel Morgan recently.  Mr. Morgan was a warrior charged with defeating the most powerful, organized and efficient military force of his time: the British Army.  Having served in the aforementioned organization, he knew he didn’t have a chance and needed to approach the problem from a different angle.  Fortunately for all of us, he found a solution by combining technology with innovation.  Perhaps his greatest strength however, is that he realized that technology alone was just a tool that would accomplish little without a strategy to account for the paradigm of the current power structure.

Outmatched by the British war machine, Washington began to employ insurgency tactics and Morgan was a perfect man for the job.  Having assembled a rifle company and using the relatively new tech lightweight rifles with grooved barrels, he was able to employ a simple strategy to disrupt the British command and control model.  His snipers would target the Indian guides the British employed for navigation in the American frontier.  This slowed the British movements and then Morgan’s men could easily remove the officers effectively leaving the directionless soldiers helpless.  Without guidance, the overwhelming superiority of the British Army was useless.  You know the rest of the story, raise a tankard and thank Morgan.

Thanks for sticking through the two paragraph history lesson.  This is today’s media landscape: a big, well-equipped force that is being attacked on all fronts with all manner of emerging technology.  The only thing preventing a complete collapse of the industry as a whole is the lack of a thoughtful and organized strategy by the various rebels.  Traditional media, represented by the armies of print, broadcast and even “old-school” digital (the display ad) are faced with their Trenton moment (Google it).   Those armies are still marching on the reliance of massive scale but are buckling under their own supply lines.  Furthermore, the incentives to change are often hard for industries to realize as core “cash cows” still generate gobs of revenue and margin.

In the prevailing model, media is still largely controlled by the access providers.  As content providers (the part that matters) gain access directly to consumers, this model will, and is, collapsing.  There is of course resistance to change on the incumbent side but consumers are moving on.  They are consuming social content at a rate not seen in the history of the media world.  This is mainly due to the fact that since Gutenberg, they haven’t actually been able to choose or control their media world.  Simply put, media connection is now available to almost every human on the planet thanks to a host of connected devices from smartphones to TV’s.  The best part is the content is provided by other humans connected to the same nodes.

The skirmishes that are happening today will become full battlefields in the very near future as the economics of the existing models, much like the British command units, collapse under the tactical reality of the shift in consumer behavior.

User generated content marketing is on the march and will not be denied.

Influencers versus Inserts: Is Blog Marketing the Future?

Written by Ted Rubin

The co-founder of Collective Bias, John Andrews, recently told Marketing Daily that there are changes in the wind regarding shopper and blog marketing and the last bastion of print media advertising to still be alive and kicking, the Free-Standing Insert (FSI) .

It’s amazing to me the amount of money that’s still dumped into coupons and inserts in the retail space. According to the global market research company Kantar Media, more than $419 billion in consumer incentives were delivered via FSI coupons, with retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreens taking top position. However, with print newspapers shutting down circulation and the shift in consumer focus from print and television to internet and social channels, I think the writing’s on the wall. It’s just that brands don’t know where to put those dollars yet, and it’s comfortable to hold onto whatever print vehicle is still giving somewhat of a return—especially during tough economic times.

Marketing folks predicted a faster shift to digital mediums, but circulars are still a stubborn holdout. John thinks the “Print Cliff” is coming, and he predicts 2013 will be the year everything starts to change.  So where will brands shift their current FSI marketing dollars?

With people spending more time online, sharing on social platforms and accessing information using mobile devices, the smart money will be in attracting influencers in the digital media space to recommend products and services. However, that requires a different mindset than the traditional “interruption advertising” mentality. Today’s consumers like interesting, contextual content, recommendations, reviews and information when they’re seeking to buy something—and they can find pages and pages of it by searching online. That’s where brands need to be. While their customers still use coupons and incentives, they’re looking for them in the digital space—not in print circulars.

That’s why Collective Bias was formed— to create New Media options that position brands in the space that’s gaining the most traction with today’s shoppers. Taking advantage of the power of the social graph (and integrating it with what we call the “Family graph”) for generating, at scale, targeted, contextual influencer content in a story telling narrative. Done in a way shoppers like to receive it… such as blog posts, how-to videos, attractive photo montages. We’re seeing brands increasingly grow returns on their marketing dollars in this format as they make a gradual shift away from print.

I don’t think it will be too long before the FSI will go the way of the dinosaur. In a few years most of them will not even be available, but digital influencer content can serve as a viable alternative. Established bloggers and other influencers concentrate on giving value, and their audiences trust them to keep providing that value. That’s where today’s consumers are going. By developing relationships with micro-media publishers, who as a group create content strategically, and shifting to “advertorial” content rather than advertising pitches, you can avoid throwing marketing dollars off the fast-approaching print cliff, and begin using those dollars more efficiently and effectively.

Inserts still have some life left, so I don’t think this is going to take place overnight. But trust me—it’s only a matter of time. Smart brands are already moving in the direction of emotionally connected content, social sharing and relationship building… and seeing dramatic results. Feel free to reach out and let us show you at Collective Bias… or read about some of them in my new book, Return on Relationship.

Social Media… How Do You Measure Success?

Written by Ted Rubin

This post written jointly by Ted Rubin and Casey Petersen

“Success” in a social campaign, and an annualized social media calendar, should be determined by the goals for the campaign and an overall long-term strategy… we like to use the term “Conditions of Satisfaction.” Far too often, companies start a campaign simply with the goal of having a “social” campaign, because that’s something they feel like they need to do or have been pitched by an agency. Most Social Marketing “experts” flock to those kinds of clients, and then pick some random metric as success.

In our world of coordinated creation of social media stories at Collective Bias, there’s typically two kinds of success, or ROI, on social campaigns – Cost Mitigation, and Sales Increase. And we believe there is a Return on Relationship (ROR) fostered by all brand relevant content and communication… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents, ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.
 #cbias, social content marketing, social marketing, social media marketing, ROR, Return on Relationship, Collective bias, @Tedrubin, content marketing, shopper media, social media

With Cost Mitigation, we look at success as generating more impressions than traditional media, for the same spend, or generating the same impressions for significantly less money.  It’s purely a CPM play. This is great for consumer packaged goods brands who have a large marketing budget, and view social as simply one part of their communication plan.

 Tying Sales Increases to social is a bit trickier, since there’s almost no way to connect a register transaction at a retailer to a reader of a blog, a Facebook Fan, or to a Twitter follower. Sometimes, you can find a correlation in the amount of content produced per day, and the sales per day… but it varies wildly by product and shopping habits in a category. So understanding the brand and retailer, and the path-to-purchase, is very important and something we focus on when connecting shoppers with the brands and retailers they use in their daily lives to drive content and conversations. Coupons can also be a good tactic to tie some real-world transactions back to online influence via social when used appropriately and to better understand your audience.

Our preferred method of defining ROI is around annualized customer value. Typically a shopper who regularly absorbs content that references a brand in one manner or another… or a Facebook fan, Twitter follower, or particularly an email subscriber, for instance, is a more valuable customer than a non-fan/follower/subscriber. They may spend more (average order value) and visit more often and make more purchases (frequency of purchase), or remain loyal customer for a longer period of time (lifetime value of a customer). Very similar to legacy Loyalty Program metrics. Finding that average value isn’t all that difficult, and can give you a KPI for the campaign – readers of blog posts, new Facebook Fans, Twitter followers, or new email subscribers, that is tied to real-world value.

 As far as measurement tools – there are a lot of interesting things out there. Ultimately, the best tool for “social” measurement is going to be able to quantify and track true influence… in other words, if you post about the new retina Macbook, do I value your opinion enough to make a decision based on that. Those tools don’t really exist yet.
#cbias, social content marketing, social marketing, social media marketing, ROR, Return on Relationship, Collective bias, @Tedrubin, content marketing, shopper media, social media

In the meantime, there are some great tools that allow you to track the path of conversation, and conversation topics around your brand, impressions generated, virality, etc. On the low-cost end, we really like Viralheat. Up in the enterprise class, Sysomos has some great tools, Mutual Mind (our partner at Collective Bias) is doing some really interesting work in the area of influence metrics, and of course there is Radian6, probably the most recognized name in the tracking industry.

Overall when combining consumer and influencer-generated content and amplified online syndication, correctly structured and maintained media programs will produce significant results including Search Engine Optimization results that last, an increase in online share of voice compared to competitors, and engaged impressions and reach that drive brand awareness, loyalty and ultimately sales conversion.

Originally posted here: www.TedRubin.com

Relationship Killers: Four of the WORST Mistakes Brands Make in Social Media

The biggest goal for any brand delving into social media should be to develop quality, productive relationships. That’s the bottom line. However, many brands still “don’t get it,” and consistently make mistakes that are damaging to them in social media and therefore damaging to their brand. In my opinion, there are four big no-no’s that not only kill those all-important relationships, but also tarnish your reputation:

1. Broadcasting:  Blasting out sales messages rather than listening and engaging has got to be the number one relationship killer of all time. Bar none. People hate to be sold—especially on social channels, where their main objective is to talk, get opinions, relax and have fun, or find answers to pressing problems. When a brand spends the majority of its time broadcasting, it’s a clear message to followers that they’re not interested in real, two-way communication.

Listening should be your first priority, followed by engagement. Don’t try to sell to people until you’ve earned their trust!

2. Taking Followers Offline to Resolve Issues:  If someone has a problem and comes to your social presence to try to get it resolved, the worst thing you can do is shunt them off to a customer service contact with a “form letter” response. Too often I see… “follow us so we can DM you,” on Twitter, or a quick move to traditional customer service channels on Facebook. People have an innate need to be validated—and “showing them the hand” is the fastest way to sour a customer relationship. Sometimes there are things that have to be resolved offline for legal issues, but the majority of complaints or requests for help should be addressed promptly and publicly in social channels. At the very least, if you MUST send them offline, do so in a friendly, personal manner. Address them by name, thank them for bringing the problem to your attention, and so on. Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes—how do you feel when you’re ignored or made to jump through hoops by a company you deal with?

Responding publicly has another important, beneficial, and cost saving benefit. Other people with the same issue, and you can/should assume there are many more, can receive resolution via your response, and see how you interact… and then make their own judgments about your brand character based on those interactions. If you’re doing it right, you will build brand advocates in the process, and when/if needed your best brand advocates will support you when they see that kind of open, honest communication.

3. Having No Brand Personality:  People who spend time on social media like to spend time with people—not logos. If you have a team of employees handling your social responses, don’t make them hide behind the brand logo when they interact with followers—give them a voice and a face. Ford does a great job of this with @ScottMonty building his personal brand along with theirs. Scott interacts with followers as himself, not the Ford brand. This humanizes the brand and fosters good communication. Being able to see the team members behind the company and interacting with them personally makes a big difference in fan loyalty.

When a company censors its employees and doesn’t allow them to participate in social discussion surrounding the brand, it’s usually because they’re afraid of “what might happen if…” They’re afraid they’ll spend too much time on social or say the wrong things. These issues can be resolved with a comprehensive social media policy so all employees know how and when they can and should interact. Remember, your employees should be some of your best advocates, and a natural extension of your “public face.”  You can’t do social right with employee censorship. Your people are your company’s personality. Let them shine for you. And… if you don’t trust your employees, maybe you have the wrong employees, or a business approach that will be difficult to sustain in this hyper-connected world.

4.  Making Social a Direct Marketing Channel:  Can you develop a relationship with a piece of direct mail? A TV commercial? A newspaper ad? An email blast? Of course not! Yet many brands treat social as an extension of their direct marketing efforts—mainly because that’s all they know. They’re used to handing off their marketing to an advertising agency and having them run with it so they can get on with their day. They think in terms of ROI formulas, but falter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of one-on-one networking.  If that’s you, don’t feel too bad—it’s a habit that’s been drummed into you and hard to break. But you’ve got to break it! Adopt a whole new mindset around social, and think in terms of building relationships and an emotional connection to your brand, or you’ll always be frustrated with your results. Remember… Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.

This goes back to the “Broadcasting” mistake I mentioned earlier. Think in terms of providing helpful content, fun ways to communicate, sharing information and asking questions. Leave the direct marketing stuff in traditional channels. Get a sense of who your audience is and give them what they’re looking for in your social communications, or you’ll get “un-followed” or ignored in a hurry.

What other “relationship killers” have you come across when dealing with brands online, and how do you think they could be avoided? Conversely, which brands have you noticed that are “getting it right” in social media when it comes to Return on Relationship™?

Originally posted at TedRubin.com

Pinterest Image Pinner From Collective Bias

Written  by Jay Thornton

As most of you have noticed, the dev team over at Collective Bias have been hard at work developing new technology to capture, syndicate, and analyze shopper behavior over the past few months. Our latest offering to that effort is our Pinterest Image Pinner for WordPress blogs.

The concept was simple. Create a plugin that allows each image (over a certain size) to be pinned simply to pinterest by anyone who visits the blog. Execution was fairly simple. Chris Whittle, our resident mad scientist, mixed up some jQuery magic that automatically appends Pinterest code to any images it finds. The result is a very simple to use plugin that does just what you want it to do… syndicate your posts and images to Pinterest.


All you’ve got to do to add the Pinterest Image Pinner from Collective Bias is download the plugin from WordPress, install the plugin and activate away. There are only a few settings that you’ll have to address:

  • JQuery selector for what images are, and are not to be pinned
  • Minimum width and height of image to be pinned

Basically, tell it what to do. Don’t want your author avatar to be pinned, set your minimum sizes to something larger than the size of the avatar or mark the div name of the avatar in the “JQuery selector for what images are not to be pinned.

So that’s about it. Visit WordPress and download away! To this point, we’ve already had about 125 downloads and only a couple of bugs. Should you have any bugs, post them at WordPress and we’ll take care of it as soon as possible. Also, we’d love to get some ratings so if you love the plugin, throw a few stars our way!

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20 Important Twitter Goals and Objectives for Business

Written by Ted Rubin

Many are asking what ROI they can get from Twitter. I believe when reviewing the following goals and objectives you will get a better understanding of the potential value. The basis of this list was posted by my friend and business associate Cheryl Burgess. I have expanded and edited with my input.

1.     First and foremost is to grow an engaged and relevant following

2.     Almost as important as #1 is… if you haven’t started already, start NOW!

3.     Generating brand awareness and business leads

4.     Servicing customers and lowering customer service inquires via traditional channels

5.     Expanding reach and creating buzz

6.     Sharing thought-leadership & participating in industry conversation

7.     Gaining competitive intelligence

8.     Monitoring your brand’s reputation in real time

9.     Building relationships with community

10.  Distributing rich SEO content

11.  Offering special discounts, white papers, blog posts

12.  Crowdsourcing ideas, products, etc.

13.  Finding, cultivating influencers and brand advocates

14.  Obtaining customer feedback on potential new offerings

15.  Developing relationships with bloggers and other micro media producers

16.  Establishing relationships and getting on the radar of journalists

17.  Recruiting for freelancers, permanent hires and interns

18.  Establishing brand leadership position by communicating, reinforcing vision, purpose, differentiation, relevance, etc.

19.  The Ability to proactively build a personal brand for Founders/Executives to represent your Brand/Business.

20.  Return on Relationship™… simply put the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple $’s and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing.

Technology is Changing, but Don’t Panic—People are Still People!

Written by Ted Rubin

Technology is always on the move—and we’ve made more technological advances in the last decade than any of us alive today have experienced in a generation. For instance, did you know that every 60 seconds, over 700 computers, 80 iPads, and 925 iPhones are sold today? Not to mention the monstrous amount of data we’re creating now. Over 1,800 Terabytes of data are created every minute, which is enough data to fill more than 2.6 million CDs!

We’re also consuming information differently than we did a decade ago. Brick-and-mortar book stores are going under in favor of online shopping and tablet e-readers… movie rental stores are disappearing in favor of subscription services… everything’s “going digital,” including our social lives. Tablets, apps, and smarter-than-ever smartphones now rule the day.

Some marketers are reacting to these rapid changes by telling us that the sky is falling. Email is dead…storytelling is dead… social media is taking over… nobody has time to read anymore… panic in the streets!

Yes, technology has forever changed the way we communicate, and there’s no going back. However, the same marketing principles apply to humans now that applied to them decades ago. The sky isn’t falling. People still love stories; they still respond to testimonials/reviews (maybe now more than ever); they still buy for the same reasons. They just look for and find information on different channels now. Also, they are pickier about how much information they consume and where they spend their time.

So what does that mean for marketers today? Well, this is where paying attention to social trends is important, because, people are driving these trends. Your customers share conversation about brands, make recommendations to each other based on experience, and seek out information that helps them make buying decisions. They’re just using new media/social tools to do it… and those tools make all this not only more valuable for brands, but absolutely imperative they foster, encourage AND participate. For instance, people still love to be visually entertained—only now, the power of YouTube takes us beyond TV and even viral videos, and into the realm of consumer (and brand) education and relationship building.

Social media tools don’t change what motivates people to buy. The marketing funnel still exists; we still have to attract an audience to our message and nurture them toward conversion. We just don’t have to wait for people to hop into our funnel based on reaction to display ads, TV commercials or direct mail. Social gives us a way to be proactive about building relationships through active listening and informed information-sharing. So now we can converse with prospects—build a rapport—find out what they want and deliver it. We’re still adding them to our marketing funnels, but essentially they’re already primed. They’ve had a chance to explore us, talk to us, take a deeper look at our content, and share their experiences with others—in many instances, before a single marketing message goes out.

Yes, there are still ads, and PPC is still a powerful tool. However, thanks to the data explosion provided by the social graph and technology advancements, even ad performance can be improved. We now have a faster, more efficient way of gathering data, creating ads, getting them in front of our niche markets, testing them and tweaking them to respond to trends almost in real time. That’s the power (and the beauty) of the digital revolution.

So don’t panic; your customers haven’t changed… they’re essentially the same consumers of information that they always were. They still respond to perceived value and relevancy, and they still love to be entertained and share stories. Social media doesn’t change them as much as it changes where (and how) conversation about our brands takes place.

The use of social media, and the “Return on Relationship™” it affords, is a two-way street. By listening more and broadcasting less, by engaging in conversation, we can learn more about our prospects and what they really want. And by changing how, where and when we communicate, we can make their experience with us much more rewarding and satisfying.

I would call that a win-win, wouldn’t you?

The “Real” Social Media Super Bowl


Written by Ted Rubin

Many are now talking about Super Bowl XLVI being the first “Social” Super Bowl.  It truly was, as an event, due to efforts of the Super Bowl’s host committee and their use of a Social Media Command Center.

In my opinion, the Super Bowl Social Media Center is proof that social media is now being taken seriously. It is not just an option that is a last minute throw in. Social media is now getting recognition as a legitimate news source, a practical and effective way to communicate with a large number of people in an interactive and engaging format. In addition this format enables, and more importantly encourages, the sharing of this information and interaction.

Brands spent more than ever this year on their Super Bowl advertisements and are now patting themselves on the back for their herculean efforts and competing to show whose commercials drew the most accolades.  In my opinion, much of those vast expenditures could have been better spent… or at the very least a portion should be devoted in the future to interaction and engagement that gives the brands a view into the hearts and minds of their consumers.

Social media, when executed, integrated and leveraged properly and strategically, can and will do more for a brand than a one-time commercial entertainment spend. Take for example the Pepsi and Coke commercials.  Coke and Pepsi both spent millions of dollars between the animated bears, Elton John and Flavor Flav in their commercials, but did either of those spends do anything to truly connect with shoppers? They are entertainment and the same as sponsorship of any entertainment event. They have value, certainly, as they make their names top-of-mind, bring a smile to the face of millions and create conversation… all valuable in the branding world. But… is that conversation about the brand or about the entertainment?  Social is a direct link that builds connections, relationships and allows the consumers to express what it all means to them in their lives, the way they live and ultimately in how they shop. I think the idea here is that consumers are looking to connect with each other and with brands to interact, provide feedback and be recognized.

For example, Twitter parties connect to hundreds of influential shoppers that broadcast to potentially millions of other shoppers. If orchestrated correctly during an event, and on a regular basis, and executed/connected to a myriad of other user-generated media, will create a more valuable connection… and be a door to future engagement.

The marketing paradigm is shifting with much greater “power to the people” facilitated by social media. If you want to continue to reach your market, it’s not just about advertising any more, but about building relationships. Just activating your audience, however, is not enough. A brand always needs to be working to keep these valued influencer and advocate relationships alive and strong and build an emotional connection. Always remember that brand loyalty declines due to lack of relevance — this has been evident for years and is clearly a direct result of not listening… and NOT hearing when you do listen. When building a social media presence, building relationships through engaging as many people by truly interacting with them, and doing what I call “looking them in the eye digitally,” is what will build value and loyalty for the long-term. Always keep in mind that social media’s incredible power is in allowing us to instantaneously connect to, interact with, and build relationships with our audience of thousands to gain high-value end results… but if you do not make them feel valued and speak to them on their terms, and bring value to the table, the results will be underwhelming and you will not be utilizing social for its true value and it will mean little more than those “branding” entertainment events.

Think REPUTATION, not ranking… CONNECTION, not network… LOYALTY, not celebrity.

Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.