Mavens, craft beer and a heap of these !?!?!?!?!

This week I’m going to base my post on some interesting research by Torgeir Aleti, Paul Harrington, Marc Cheong and Will Turner that looks at how the Australian brewing industry influence consumers on Twitter.

The research is fairly comprehensive and is structured around proving, or disproving a number of hypothesis based on a series of constructs;

• Indegree influence and retweet influence
• Message formulation and language
• Native platform behaviour
• Reciprocity and;
• Persistency

One of the key points that the authors make is that organisations on Social Media should be using maven-like behaviour to influence their audiences (Feick and Price 1987). In Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 book The Tipping Point  Gladwell defines Mavens as “Those who influence through their ability to accumulate, interpret, and share information” and I certainly agree that mavens can stimulate and encourage engagement on Twitter especially with audiences seeking (and wanting to share) information.

What I found really interesting in the approach the authors took was the acknowledgement that the traditional influencers (opinion leaders and highly-connected individuals  etc.) may not actually be as influential when it came down to how small businesses interact on social media and that ordinary users could be just as influential, if not more so. This makes it even more important to create the right information that people are seeking and would be likely to want to share.

So the key to this it would appear, as is the case for most things in Social Media, is content. And as Bill Gates rightly proclaimed in 1996 “Content is King”. I’m sure there is a quote out there somewhere that will say “all roads lead to content”, if there isn’t, I’ll claim it now because pretty much everything on Social Media in some shape or form seems to come back to that.

Capture4
That’s a very good question and well worth a retweet

Without going through Aleti’s paper in its entirety, there are a couple of areas relating to Social Media content that pricked my attention. The first was the hypothesis based around the frequent use of pictures and videos in tweets and the research on the use of question marks and exclamation marks being associated with higher levels of indegree and retweet influence.

The results showed that the hypothesis which was tested around more frequent use of pictures and videos being associated with higher levels of indegree and retweet influence was only partly supported by the research.

This is supported by my own research in to the use of images and video in tweets, where tweets containing images often achieve significantly higher levels of engagement than just text based tweets. Although saying that, there are always exceptions to the rule. With weather services we often have warnings that are heavily retweeted from text only tweets, but as a broad benchmark, in terms of engagement and specifically retweets; from the top 100 tweets we send out in any given week 90% will contain an image / animation or video.

Capture9
Wow!! So many exclamation marks !!!!!

And finally, the hypothesis relating to the use of question marks and exclamation marks being associated with higher levels of indegree and retweet influence was not supported by the research, which does tend to make sense. Although it was interesting that exclamation marks could be viewed as shouting and were unlikely to be retweeted at the same frequency as tweets not containing them (I think that needs more research as I suspect it could change based on certain demographics, such as age / culture). Again, there are always exceptions to the rule and like most things relating to content, it comes back to context. Here is a tweet from Louis Tomlinson from One Direction to their fans containing exclamation marks which attracted over 400,000 retweets.

And on that note, that’s a pretty big number, but what does it actually mean? Well you will just have to wait until next week’s post on “Analytics and metrics, it’s all in the interpretation” which addresses that very question.

 

You talking to me?

This week’s inspiration is drawn from a great piece of industry reading from Forbes Insights on Customer Engagement: Best of the Best. If you have some time, it is well worth a read. The article provides some excellent examples of customer engagement in both the on-line and off-line space and there are also plenty of great examples of where the introduction of technology has significantly contributed to an increase in engagement (and value) between business and consumers.

One particular point that seemed to be consistent across all the case studies was the use, and analysis of data to inform strategy and aid in obtaining a much better understanding of who the consumers are and how business can maximise engagement with them. (I will cover off on the use of and interpretation of data in more detail in a couple of weeks).

In the article’s summary, the sponsor (SAP) dropped this little gem into the narrative “The way that businesses engage with customers and manage relationships has radically changed. Today’s customers are digitally empowered through mobile and social technologies, and they are better informed than ever before. Customers are now in control of the relationships they have with their favorite brands—not the other way around.”

7724please-don-t-interrupt-me-while-i-m-ignoring-you-posters1
I have something important to say about me

This got me thinking about a comment I made on another students post last week about Social Media engagement where I made an analogy that posting corporate messages on social media was like being invited to a party at someone else’s house where there are a whole range of discussions going on and rather than just joining in and being part of the conversation you just decide to change the topic and start talking “at” people about why you are so awesome.

As noted in an excellent 2013 paper by Robin Croft (Blessed are the geeks: An ethnographic study of consumer networks in social media, 2006–2012), the transition from one-way / push communications of the past to a community based two-way engagement and conversational model does appear to be a struggle for many businesses. In the Department that I work, this has manifested itself into an actual inclusion in the Social Media Policy to specifically not engage with the social media audience.

This points to an acute lack of understanding about how Social Media fits in to the communication landscape and ultimately leaves the audience isolated from the conversation the business claims it wants to be having.

Young confident caucasian businessman screaming on his employee
This is just soooo engaging!

As the Forbes article notes, customers are in control of this relationship and decide the conversation, so if we want to be part of it we need to understand how to work with the audience and not just force feed them the  content we want them to have.

As marketing practitioners we need to move away from one way broadcasts on social media if we want the audience to engage with us, otherwise we risk the message quickly becoming more of a boredcast.

This is an add on to the post that I though I’d include which I came across today and it’s a really good example of two way engagement, it starts with a customer of Sainsbury’s in the UK making a comment on Twitter and went off from there.

Capture10

Facebook segmentation and engagement

This week’s blog article is based upon the Hodis et al. (2015) article “Interact with me on my terms: a four segment Facebook engagement framework for marketers”.

The paper covers off some great research about why segmentation is so important for Facebook engagement and identifies four clear segments for consideration.

Capture6
Facebook segmentation matrix (Hodis et al. 2015)
  • Attention seekers – users looking for admiration and appreciation (low levels of consumption and high levels of creation)
  • Entertainment chasers -people trying to escape boredom (consuming small bursts of entertaining content)
  • Devotees – addicted to Facebook users (high level of consumption and creation)
  • Connection seekers – Connecting with friends / family is their primary reason for using Facebook (High level of consumption  and low level of creation)

The essence of the article is around breaking down the audience to specific audience types, tailoring the content accordingly and then to consider using paid advertising to support your Social Media activity on Facebook. This  allows you to get much higher engagement than a fit-for-all-approach as the relevancy of the message increases and in-turn the organic reach increases (the amount of times the message is distributed).

But is this enough?

In fact, research from Sashittal et al. (2012) suggests paid targeted advertising can actually work against you to the point that really well targeted advertising on Facebook was often viewed by the audience as creepy, and the more targeted and specific the advert, the more uncomfortable the audience potentially viewed it.

Segmentation as a way to increase engagement isn’t exactly breaking news, so is there more we can add to the mix if we really want to maximise engagement?

employee-engagement
Get your employees behind your Social Media activity

For example, empowering your business; such as your employees, volunteers and stakeholders (as well as your existing audience) to extend engagement through Social Media interaction rather than just using organic reach and Facebook paid advertising to achieve this. (If all of your staff liked and shared your posts, overall engagement would increase as a result as would the organic reach).

Here is a great article from Ryan Holmes at Fast Company on this topic which talks about the success Companies such as Starbucks, Zappos and Southwest Airlines in the US have had with their employee advocacy programs.

Either way, Social Media interaction is critical for driving engagement and maintaining an active brand presence, so getting it right and engaging with your audience becomes a high priority and by doing so, you have a real opportunity to influence your audience’s behaviour.

There are a couple of good blog articles from Deluca (2011) and Goad (2011) that note that a user’s shopping behaviour becomes increasingly influenced by their social media interactions and social media consumer to consumer communication can make a big difference in how your message is picked up by your audience.

This is supported by Li and Bernhoff in the book Groundswell, who note there has been a shift in how consumers now use technology to get from each other what they would traditionally get from corporations, and de Valck et al. (2009) extends this further noting that “word-of-mouse” is just as powerful in impacting consumer decision making as face to face influence.

Capture8
Source MSL Group on Employee advocacy

So, if engagement is the key to success; empowering the people in the business to get behind your Social Media activity, encouraging them to engage with your audience and to interact with them (and each other) would certainly be a strategy worth considering.

 

Proudly powered by WordPress | Theme: Baskerville 2 by Anders Noren.

Up ↑