Friday, December 14

Killing Quietly: Consumer Opinion


A few months ago, one of the advertising agencies we work with included social media as part of its marketing mix for a national account that we’ll call “Acme.” Acme has a conservative approach to marketing, so we weren’t all that surprised when they dismissed the social media portion of the proposal.

It was unnecessary, they said, because they purchase key words. A quick search of the company’s name reveals that they do. The company captures the top spot on Google and other search engines.

The fifth spot, however, belongs to consumer complaints about Acme. The sixth and seventh belong to individual dissatisfied customers. The eighth is a review site, littered with poor reviews.

Given each consumer description is emblazoned with words like “disaster” and “nightmare,” terms you cannot ignore when considering a major purchase, they outweigh any of the company’s neutral messages. In fact, each divergent and unanswered message compounds and erodes consumer confidence.

Imagine. All of this is being read before the company has a chance to submit a proposal or pitch the customer. Worse, it makes their customer service representatives look like cons and charlatans, ignorant of what is being said about their company at best.

It’s a shame because despite the abundance of negative messages, Acme is fine company. The primary reason for the disparity between their product and consumer opinion is largely related to unhappy consumers having louder and more passionate voices than happy customers, who are too busy enjoying the product to say anything.

Yet, unaware and/or unconvinced, the company continues to allow its brand to be slowly and quietly killed, drowning in the sea of social media. They have no idea, they say, why they have lost market share. Yet, part of the reason seems to be obvious.

Social media shapes more opinion than all other media combined.

One of the newest surveys conducted by BrandWeek reinforces the point.

• 47% of all respondents said they would go to a social networking site to download coupons or search for gift ideas if those services were available;

• 45% said they would visit a social networking site to find out about upcoming sales in stores or discounts on products;

• 22% said they would read or write a product review on a blog.

With results like these, even Nancy Costopulos, CMO for the American Marketing Association, told BrandWeek that they are well aware people are avoiding advertising messages and looking for alternative opinions.

While I won’t go so far as to say that social media is making advertising irrelevant, I will point out that if brands are the net sum of all positive and negative impressions (the relationship between the company and consumer), then it stands to reason unchecked social media may be delivering a deficit.

I suspect many companies know it too, but it’s hard to admit until there is a crisis. Even Acme demonstrated there is some truth to this. When the agency challenged Acme to present five reasons why social media is not right for them (which I was to politely and publicly address on this blog), they quickly declined.

Why not? If social media doesn’t matter, then what difference does it make? You know, they said, just in case. Unfortunately, based on online identity calculations alone for Acme, “just in case” seems to be “as a matter of fact.”

And they are not alone. While some accounts have engaged us in social media, several are content to say that they are not ready for it. Some are so not ready, they passed on a complimentary social media evaluation and proposal that might reveal how new media might best work for them.

The paradox is that they might not be ready for social media, but social media has been ready for them, starting more than a year ago. Since, it has been slowly and silently killing them for every day they remain disengaged. Special thanks to Evolution for allowing us to share this story; not all agencies are so ready address it. We are grateful to have you.

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4 comments:

Mack Collier on 12/14/07, 10:43 AM said...

"The fifth spot, however, belongs to consumer complaints about Acme. The sixth and seventh belong to individual dissatisfied customers. The eighth is a review site, littered with poor reviews."

And what do we do when we search? We quickly scan the first page. Acme being #1 doesn't mean much if ACME SUCKS! is #5. That's where we will go first in most cases. Great story Rich!

Rich on 12/14/07, 4:08 PM said...

Thanks Mark,

I really appreciate it. You're right of course. People tend to gravitate toward the search descriptions that stand out. Disaster seems to be the one for "Acme."

All my best,
Rich

www.Measuredup.com The last word in Customer Service on 12/15/07, 11:09 AM said...

I am so happy to see a blog like this from someone at an advertising agency.

This is the exact reason we started Measuredup.com a leading customer service review site. While many consumer share reviews with each other the real reason we started this is so companies can keep track of what is being said about them and create conversations with consumers not to mention try to influence their search rankings.

Take a look at www.Measuredup.com

If you want to see how we can help some of your clients let us know.

Rich on 12/16/07, 7:55 AM said...

Thank you. I'll be sure to check out it.

Best,
Rich

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