Right now, your customers are verifying purchase decisions on the web, reviewing other’s opinions or voicing their own impressions about you. They’re defining you on Wikipedia, re-constructing your commercials on YouTube, and are grouping up – either against or with you – on social networks.
These are all elements of the ‘new’ age of conversational marketing – that has created a permanent shift in the conventional notion of Marketing Communications and Influencer Relations for brands.
Most brands are skeptical about the negativity around such conversations, and the risks of the conversations going ‘out-of-control’. However, the truth is brands no longer “control” the message – the consumers do!
At the same time, there was never a better opportunity for brands than this to drive consumer loyalty. The key is in aligning oneself to the 3 significant shifts from the traditional marketing tactics:
1. Influence instead of control. Facilitate conversations.
2. Do not push your messages. Make it as easily findable and sharable as possible. Consumers will pull your messages if crafted with the user in-mind — and the good ones will find far higher penetration than traditional push marketing tactics can take them to.
3. Invest in relationships and not transactions. While building your relationships with your brand evangelists, do not ignore your critics. Good will and transparency can go a long way in winning over your worst critics. And when you do, they speak up even louder in appreciation.
However, it’s important to differentiate the “distractors” from the “critics”. While social media platforms have made it very easy to voice opinions and get wide reach without having to spend a penny, some users at times fall into the trap of the “shake-the-establishment” psyche where even minute, easily ignorable incidents find themselves in their #FAIL or #SUCKS whines. Do not be intimidated by the fact that some users have droppped all filters in their conversations. The community around will filter the conversations. The larger community knows to call a spade, a spade — and they do understand that it’s not always that brands are at fault.
In fact, even if the brand is at fault, the genuine intent of the brand for corrective measures, and the fact that they stand up to their responsibilities donot go unnoticed.
The risk really is in NOT participating in the conversation.