I attended the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Santa Clara, CA (#e2conf) this week, which focuses primarily on internal social business applications for the enterprise. A large group of community managers have gathered for networking and learning on latest on social business applications. I thought I would highlight a few things I learned for everybody’s benefit.
First thing that occurred to me was that though this particular event was not anyway related to what ReadyPulse focuses on, i.e., social influencer marketing, there is an underlying common thread between influencers and brands, which is the basic human needs of recognition and empathy. These two needs are very strong especially in social settings, which is what one would hope to achieve irrespective of their cultural background, upbringing, and belief systems.
Recognition and Empathy
The motivational drivers, recognition and empathy, are critical for success of any social community including internal/external social networks. An employee would work harder knowing that his / her contributions are being recognized across the board. Similarly the employee would make stronger effort to contribute when his/her specific situation was empathized by higher-ups. To facilitate both recognition and empathy, the social business software vendors have provided various tools, including leaderboards, rewards, and badges. These motivational tools to recognize and empathize go a long way to ensure that the employee continues to perform better.
Now, let us apply the same principles to external social networks. Many of us, to be precise, 800 million of the world’s population are part of Facebook to socialize with their friends and the people they admire and the brands they love. At every level, the human need for recognition and empathy show up and are most effective especially when it comes from unexpected quarters. Say for example, you are an ardent admirer of Nordstrom and you have been shopping there for years. Now as a member of Nordstrom’s Facebook page, you are actively interacting with Nordstrom. Let us assume that you got an email or a message on Facebook from Nordstrom’s CEO thanking you for your support. How ecstatic would you be? Let us take another example. You ordered a gift online on Nordstrom during the holiday season and for some reason, you didn’t receive the gift on time, which made you share the experience on Nordstrom’s Facebook page. If you received a note from the VP customer support/experience apologizing and the corrective steps they are taking, how moving would that experience be? I bet you will be sharing this experience with all the people you know both online and offline during the holiday season parties with your friends. The underlying elements of recognition and empathy have a much more stronger role to play in making your admiration for Nordstrom much more stronger.
Other Useful Perspectives for Social Marketing
Contextual Advocacy vs. Absolute advocacy
A customer can be an advocate within a context but not an advocate in absolute sense or vice versa. There is a need to identify where a customer is and how his advocacy is changing over time. In order to measure advocacy, the marketers can use both behavioral actions on social networks such as Likes or retweets and explicit surveys.
Gap Analysis on Relationships with Your Audience
Brands are good at understanding what kind of relationships they want with their customers. The issue really is to understand whether the brands really have such relationships with their customers. By leveraging social networks and applications, brands can achieve this goal.
Long-term Focus Required for Sustainable Relationships
We all agree that content is king and everybody strives to distribute content that can resonate well and go viral. Content and special events will certainly result in temporary spikes in engagement and relationships. Those brands that can convert the temporary relationships to sustainable relationships will win in the long run. Transparency, participation in the community and genuine interest in the audience are the only ways that can lead to sustainable relationships.
Community maturity model
To understand a community’s growth, whether it is internal or external, we can develop a community maturity model that aligns with business goals and audience goals.
Final Thoughts on Recognition and Empathy
I think for the first time, there is an opportunity to connect at human level between the customer and the brand provided there is a focus on recognition and empathy in a scalable way. In fact, such focus would help brands drive effective marketing campaigns in addition to seasonal promotions done by all brands. Recognition and empathy can be the differentiators for your brand when everybody can offer the same price discounts.