(Originally posted in Adotas)
Do you remember the days of browsing a bookstore or library for your next read? You’d head to your favorite section and get lost for hours before settling on a book. Now, personalized tools such as Amazon’s recommendation system have reduced this search to a few seconds. Both consumers and marketers can admire Amazon’s ability to instantly lead a customer to the perfect book based on his or her preferences. Although the algorithms that power these systems are amazing, the magic is in how personalized recommendations make consumers feel. Amazon makes a transaction with a machine feel personal. When consumers feel like someone — or something, in this case — knows and cares about their interests, they will become loyal customers who keep coming back for that personal touch. Amazon is paving the way for a more user-driven brand experience, and with brands such as Netflix following suit, marketers can no longer rely on deceptive qualitative data alone to make campaign decisions.
Marketers need to get data on their customers, and the best way to do this is through the platforms they’re constantly using: mobile devices.
Meet Consumers Where They Are
Mobile usage now accounts for 60 percent of consumers’ digital time, according to a 2014 comScore report. And app usage accounts for most mobile engagement, taking up seven out of every eight minutes of media consumption on mobile devices. With the explosion of mobile usage, marketers can now reach consumers wherever they are and deliver the Amazon-like personalized recommendations that they expect. But many marketers who are flocking to mobile are making the mistake of bombarding consumers with irrelevant messages. This information overload makes capturing — and keeping — customer attention a constant challenge.
To compete on Amazon’s level of personalization, marketers must be able to track their customers’ behavior on mobile. By tapping into this rich trove of psychographic data, marketers can rise above the noise and get the right information to the right customer at the right time.
Leverage Social Analytics for Campaigns
You’re familiar with the customer persona method of defining your target audience. You can also create mobile profiles to craft highly personalized campaigns. The easiest way to do this is through social analytics tools. Consumers are less guarded on social platforms than they are in formal surveys or focus groups. By harnessing social data, you can see your audience in real time — while at the grocery store, in the living room, or on an outdoor adventure — and collect important psychographic data.
By analyzing this data, you’re much more likely to get an accurate and unbiased picture of your audience’s interests, values, personality traits, and purchase intentions. If you combine this with quantitative data, you can craft a mobile campaign that will reach the exact people who will love your product or service. Choose the metrics that are most important to your mobile campaign, such as the number of social followers or video downloads. Continue researching and tweaking the campaign until it heads in the right direction. Psychographic analysis is still a work in progress, especially on the social front, but brands that jump in now will end up on top.
It’s a new age for marketers. Consumers are smart enough to know when they’re the targets of marketing efforts, and they don’t always like it. Take the time to get to know them personally and offer a precise solution at the right moment. You’ll earn the enduring trust of the people who matter most to your business.
(Originally published in Social Media Explorer)
Social media thrives on one thing: accessibility. Whether it’s seeing the biggest stars’ daily routines or scoring the scoop from a trusted reporter, people want to feel in touch and informed — down to the second. Your Twitter followers want all of these things from your brand. But they want something else, too: They want to know you’re human.
That’s why an automated Twitter response is such a disappointment for your followers. It tells them your brand is unavailable, or worse, “too big to care.” But there’s a better way to keep your followers engaged and excited, as well as give them a taste of your brand’s more personal side: Treat Twitter as a place for humor, play, and experimentation — in real time.
Risk and Reward
Personifying your brand is important because it helps you build a personality, not just a brand voice. And the first step toward building a personality is universal: finding a sense of humor. That’s exactly why Twitter fans love wacky jokes and clever retorts from brands they follow. Here’s a great example: Someone tweeted a snarky barb at Smart Car, criticizing its flagship product. So what did Smart Car do? It tweeted back an informative infographic and a witty reply. This seems risky, right? But it actually hit the mark perfectly — and scored media kudos as one of the “funniest replies from a brand yet.”
A quick look at Smart Car’s followers would show that this move isn’t as dangerous as it seems: The car brand’s fans are daring, they like to break convention, and they loathe “corporate speak.” This retort was spur-of-the-moment, smart, and real, which means it’s a perfect fit — even though it seems off-the-cuff. (Imagine what might have happened if Smart Car’s comeback had been scripted instead: “We’re sorry you feel that way. How can we help?” It would have been a disaster.)
Rules of the Game
There’s a clear strategy at work here: Be spontaneous but informed. But, like any bold move, the risk should be calculated, authentic, and, most importantly, true to your fans. So how can big brands balance those three traits without incurring too much risk on a public social platform? Here are a few ideas:
- Make your partners — or even your competitors — look good. Losers try to discredit their rivals and end up discrediting themselves. What if Microsoft complimented Google instead of running its infamous “Scroogled” campaign? Brands should use Twitter to expand their audience and engage new people, not alienate the ones who already follow them.
- Know your audience. If you have a lot of engaged, vocal followers who like more wholesome, conservative brands, you’re better off staying on the safe side. Be nice, like Coca-Cola, which answers every tweet with a “thanks.” But if your brand is more daring, like Red Bull or Virgin Airlines, you can push the limits instead. (DiGiorno’s “cheeky” commentary during “The Sound of Music” is a great example.)
- Get your timing right. We’ve all seen these infamous tweets, like Kim Kardashian’s ill-timed product promotion in the aftermath of the Oklahoma tornado. These mistakes might be understandable to marketing executives, but they’re absolutely mystifying (and that much more tone-deaf) to Twitter users. Be careful about what you respond to — and when you’re responding, too.
You can achieve this fun, playful engagement across all kinds of media, but some are far riskier to your brand — and your budget — than others. Here’s an example: TV is expensive, and it involves planning, testing, and round after round of review. And that means that, on TV, being “wacky” is a bigger gamble than ever.
Twitter, on the other hand, is fast and low-risk, which makes it perfect for “testing” new voices and ideas. Why? It is low-cost, low-effort, and, unless you’re attracting the wrong kind of media attention, has a pretty short memory. There’s also a wealth of social information for you to access, so you can tailor your experimental tweets to fit your followers.
Start with a solid analysis of your brand’s target audience. Some of the limits and guardrails that you’ll create for your Twitter presence are intuitive; other times, you’ll have to rely on data to tell you where your followers’ interests lie. Crunching numbers on what they care about, what they’re listening to, and what they’re watching will give you key insights into what’s likely to trigger a laugh or a retweet — and make a lasting impression. And the more data you have to inform your social worldview, the better your off-the-cuff tweets will be — and the better response you’ll get from your followers.
After all, Twitter is made for play, not work. And that’s why you should make your followers feel like they’re connecting with a person, not a brand representative. Don’t be afraid to experiment and engage your followers in new, innovative ways — and have a little fun doing it, too.
Segment your audience in hours — not weeks or months — all without asking questions. Craft campaigns and products that appeal to their personalities and unique interests.