Personalized Grassroots Fans Versus Old-Fashioned Celebrity Endorsers

Personalized Grassroots Fans Versus Old-Fashioned Celebrity Endorsers

(Originally posted in Social Media Today)

It’s 11 p.m., and you’re in your local big-box store. You’ve got a package of white sports socks in each hand, and you’re trying to figure out which one to buy. One brand has your childhood sports hero smiling on the package, and the other comes highly recommended by your best friend.

Which do you choose?

Oddly enough, the same question torments marketing professionals as they try to figure out which approach will resonate with their target market: the highly personalized grassroots campaign or the good old-fashioned celebrity endorsement. And the answer isn’t easy.

Grassroots Campaign or Celebrity Endorsement: Which Strategy Is Best for Your Brand’s Story?

Image provided by We Are Social Media.

Which Approach Will Ignite Your Audience?

Celebrity endorsements have long been embraced as the go-to marketing strategy for brands looking to establish trust and build excitement with new customers. But consumers have developed a distaste for in-your-face advertising tactics, and new studies suggest that grassroots advocate campaigns might have just as powerful an effect on customers as celebrity endorsements.

There’s no single factor that determines whether a grassroots campaign or celebrity endorsement is best for your target audience. However, there are clues that can help you discover which option is best for you. Here are three considerations that can help you select the right approach:

1. Analyze your budget for the best ROI. Don’t think that a small budget makes your decision easier; a budget of any size can secure a less obvious, but still powerful, celebrity influencer — regardless of whether it’s the best choice for your brand.

What matters most, though, is that you choose an approach that will resonate with your audience for the most powerful ROI.

Taco Bell’s “Burner Phone Breakfast” grassroots heist is a great example of using a minimal budget for maximum impact. After sending phones to 1,000 of its 1.1 million Twitter followers, the brand texted and called each phone with different challenges to complete, then rewarded these fans with Taco Bell prizes and gear.

This effort created a lot of engagement and awareness via social media and targeted its Millennial audience perfectly — all at a fraction of the cost of contracting a popular celebrity.

2. Track target audience conversations. You can’t confidently predict which trends will appeal to your audience unless you’re tracking their social media conversations in real time.

Gather data and try to incorporate celebrities, events, or topics your audience mentions into your current marketing strategy. Listen to what your audience cares about (their friends’ opinions, a hot TV star’s endorsement, etc.), and redistribute that information in creative ways.

Telemundo is a great example of a company in tune with its audience’s interests. In partnership with Latin World Entertainment, the TV channel invited 100 of its top social media influencers to come on screen and judge its new talent competition, “Yo Soy el Artista.” This approach strengthened the show’s relationship with its social media influencers, who, in turn, promoted the show and the experience to millions of followers.

3. Read into every audience detail. Go a step beyond tracking conversations to uncover your audience’s deeper motivations. Use a social media segmentation tool to identify unique characteristics that describe your audience and popular, but less obvious, influencers.

Every trait you can uncover — from being eco-friendly to price-sensitive — is an important indicator of what will warrant a response from your audience. And if you’re going the celebrity route, this will uncover the people they really care about, not just the hot celebrities of the moment.

Under Armour did a great job of incorporating its knowledge of its audience into its celebrity promotions with the current “I Will What I Want” campaign featuring Gisele Bündchen and Lindsey Vonn. By featuring real women celebrities who have overcome criticism, injuries, and more, each powerful promotion connected with the everyday athletic woman and created buzz around the brand.

It’d be a lot easier if marketing campaigns came in a one-size-fits-all package, but that’s not how you make a genuine connection with your target consumer. Put in the work to determine what resonates with your audience, and use that information to develop an effective grassroots campaign or secure a compelling celebrity endorsement.

Use Social Influence to Boost Brand Beliefs

Use Social Influence to Boost Brand Beliefs

(Originally posted in The Business Journals)

Did you know that chocolate milk is a better post-workout drink than a protein drink?

Did you know that chocolate milk is a better post-workout drink than a protein drink?

Image provided by Getty Images

A brand belief like this doesn’t exist in direct-to-consumer advertising — have you ever seen a commercial featuring an athlete furiously chugging chocolate milk? Yet it still exists (See Weber Shandwick’s influencer campaign for “Got Chocolate Milk?”). So where does it come from?

The answer is social influence. In an increasingly advertising-saturated environment, brands are shifting from direct advertising to social influence-based tactics to reach their target audiences.

This practice isn’t new. It’s been around since the 1960s, when Daniel Edelman had a simple idea: Use celebrities to endorse products. You can imagine (and maybe even remember!) how effective those sponsorships were.

But today, consumers are born with devices in their hands. They no longer naïvely believe that Jean-Claude Van Damme actually uses the Total Flex home gym or that Bill Cosby‘s favorite food is Jell-O. Pile on the avalanche of content consumers encounter daily, and it’s clear why the old way of doing things is losing steam.

To the rescue come the influencers — those real people who give your branded content authenticity.

Enter the early adopters

Many large-scale consumer brands already leverage this approach through bloggers and thought leaders. It’s a commitment — recruiting, managing, nurturing and sometimes paying influencers — but in terms of engagement and sales, the ROI can be exponential.

Walmart froze its paid promotions in favor of organic, owned content in an ambitious effort to bolster its brand reputation through influencers. As a result, it garnered an engagement rate of more than 4.5 percent — well above the average.

So, how can you use influencers to boost your brand’s reputation? Start with these steps:

1. Segment your audience

Thanks to social listening and customer insight tools, it’s easy to acquire consumer data. Telling a story with that data is the hard part. Identify your audience’s social media profiles then curate them down to your target markets.

2. Find people who can influence your target segments

This is not as hard as you’d think. If you monitor your audience’s social activity, you can see whom each segment interacts with. Monitoring those social streams will net you their upstream influence path.

3. Tailor your content

A celebrity tweet about your brand may garner thousands of likes, but will it really close a sale? A brand advocate, on the other hand, might talk to 10 friends and convert eight into customers.

Segment your influencers by where they are in the buying cycle — awareness, consideration or open to conversion — then channel the right content to them at the right time, through the person your target market trusts.

With a constant flow of branded content bombarding consumers from every direction, it’s difficult to cut through the noise and highlight your brand. But with the help of influencer marketing, you can build positive brand awareness, connect with customers on an authentic level and strengthen your content overall.

iPhone versus Windows Phone – How Are Their Influencers Different?

iPhone versus Windows Phone – How Are Their Influencers Different?

You probably know by now that Mattr is big on personality (not ours; your brand’s). Our latest platform extension features influencer marketing and you can filter for values.

This solves the problem of you digging through millions of profiles to look for the 1000 people who are both conservative and early tech adopters – think of launching a new mobile app for Hobby Lobby.

In any event, here’s the quick analysis for people influential about the iPhone and those who impact the conversation around the Windows Phone(s).

Influencer Marketing Values



How We Did It

We looked at micro and mid-level influencers for both phones in our influencer application, looking at their last 10,000 tweets and Instagram posts. We left out the macro influencers, who are primarily media and large verified accounts like young Master Bieber. Mid-level influencers are not Twitter verified and usually have hundreds of thousands of followers. Micro influencers have minimal followers but are real people who post on Instagram or Twitter with some frequency. We like to say that everyone matters at Mattr – so if you’re looking for the people who influence your target audience, you want to see your next door neighbor who only has 100 followers, but a lot of influence over you.


What it Means

The political party affiliation surprised us a bit, as did the environmental analysis. Just goes to show you that stereotypes are often dangerous–but always sloppy and rarely good enough in these days of big data.

For Microsoft, it tells us that they’re close to on par with Apple’s sense of non-conformism, even though 5% of the dataset represents a significant enough difference to call out.

I would definitely play off of the environmental analysis, and appeal to phone and electronics recycling programs. To date, few campaigns come to mind with this message. Certainly, Microsoft should heed the advice of avoiding trying to appeal to conflicting value sets such as Self-Indulgence versus Conservation / Conformity.

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How Apple Bends You To Their Will

How Apple Bends You To Their Will


Few iPhone users would identify “hedonism” (or the pursuit of pleasure) as a core value in their lives, but when you look at the sentiments behind Apple’s marketing strategy for the past 30 years, you might not be so quick to disagree. This extremely human core value is a key factor in Apple’s success today, despite the fact that the company based its marketing on entirely different values when it first began.

The unmitigated success of Apple’s products and its ability to shift values over the years are clear indicators of what we already know to be true: Apple lives and breathes values-based marketing, and so should your business.

Irresistible Marketing Speaks to Values

If you’re new to values-based marketing, you should familiarize yourself with Schwartz’s circumplex model of values. This model organizes human values into one system that can help you pinpoint the most effective way to market your products. The values outlined in the Schwartz model, such as hedonism, stimulation, and self-direction, make up a new wave of suspiciously successful values-based marketing.

This approach has been adopted by several major brands. Microsoft’s recent “Empowering” campaign tugs at our heartstrings, while Amazon’s promo for the new Kindle Unlimited service appeals to readers’ desire for instant gratification.

Values-based marketing is so effective because values, unlike beliefs, are not just static ideas. Rather, when values are activated, they become infused with deep feeling. Marketing that taps into this relationship between belief and action ignites a powerful desire to act within consumers.

How to Activate Consumers Through Values-based Marketing

Long-lasting, high-profile success isn’t just a matter of creating the perfect product. It’s a matter of speaking to the right values from the get-go and then allowing those values to shift as your target market and company’s products mature.

Here are three powerful lessons from Apple on values-based marketing:

1. Make the unnecessary necessary
What are the top five apps on your iPhone? They aren’t saving lives, that’s for sure. Yet people like you and I account for 150 million iPhones sold in 2013 alone. You don’t need the iPhone 6, but you want it—desperately.

Selling a product that people want is as simple as providing an opportunity for your customers to fulfill their need for stimulation, power, self-direction, or another dominant value. Tap into these values with your branding and advertising, and your market’s “want” for the product will bubble uncontrollably.

2. Make your product a values statement
How you appeal to your target market through values must align with that target market at the right time of your company’s lifecycle. In 1984, Apple believed that non-conformist messages would appeal to its target market. Once Apple’s products were more accepted by the mainstream, the marketing message shifted to more hedonistic values.

This shift in values can be risky. You have to recognize your competition’s approach and comprehensively analyze the macroeconomic environment to be successful.

3. Shift your offering as values shift
Despite its runaway success, there’s a reason Apple isn’t still playing that old “1984” commercial. Today, consumer values are rapidly shifting toward hedonism and stimulation.

Instead of gathering around the table, my family often eats dinner in front of a laptop or tablet, taking the latest BuzzFeed quiz or binge-watching “The Walking Dead” on Netflix. Those who value tradition over non-conformism and hedonism would be horrified, but they aren’t Apple’s target market.

Think about the pleasure you get from downloading a new app or hearing a great new song (curated by Apple’s recent acquisition, Beats Music). Apple’s obsession with hardware, visual design, and simplicity reinforces its dedication to make its product and presentation beautiful to use, look at, and hold, which appeals to the values of its current market.

What do you think are some of the most important consumer values?
What do you think of Apple’s approach?

Who else echoes consumer values?

(Originally posted in the AWESOME Bplans)