During his session at the W2O PreCommerce Summit, Bloomberg Head of Communications Mike Marinello started with a 2012 Neilsen study that reiterated that brands and trust are more influenced by what individuals say than what a company says about themselves.
Besides the Neilsen study, Mike referenced a 2013 Harris Interactive Brand Perception study that said that for the first time how a customer feels about a company is a key perception driver. Also for the first time seekers became the most powerful group in terms of influencing brand perception. Seekers are the people who actively seek new information about a brand, products or companies, and they actively share much of that information with others via their social networks.
For Bloomberg, it was clear that their share of voice was declining overall. The first way they sought to tackle the problem was cut back on press releases. They also instilled a new level of rigor their editorial planning process and their daily news meetings to focus their efforts on generating stories that resonate with readers at a more personal level.
Mike used the quote attributed to Bill Gates (“I’d use my last dollar on Public Relations.”) to reiterate the point that PR practitioners should focus their content efforts on the core things they’ve been doing for years. In other words, content marketing is all about having a story to tell, publishing and activating it by getting it in front of readers who are seekers.
Since those efforts, where Bloomberg has limited the number of press releases to focus more on stories that will engage their audience, they not only saw an increase in engagement, but their share of voice has steadily increased as well.
Mike wrapped up his portion with a reminder that it’s important to show up. But where, why and how do you do that? In today’s world, for brands that means not only knowing where on the social web they need to be, they also need to understand how to reach their customers in those places. That’s the challenge for all of us to figure out as we move forward armed with reams of information.
Virginia Miracle is someone I’ve known for a long time and have a tremendous amount of respect for. She’s the Chief Customer Officer at Spredfast, and to say she knows what she’s talking about is an understatement. She spent her time discussing shared media and how it relates to social commerce.
She made the point that great social experiences build lasting relationships. Many brands are now starting down the path of evolution in terms of shared media. That means going from a “we need a social presence in Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.” to “ow we use these tools to drive business goals in a way that serves our customers.”
Not an easy task… but one of the keys is tapping into a shared passion is She discusses a few examples of brands that are getting there. General Mills has been able to drive engagement since they created Hello Cereal Lovers, which is more about fun and less about the company. Posts on Home Away’s Facebook page routinely get thousands of shares by tapping into people’s desire to get away from it all. And last but not least, REI extended the success of the REI 1440 project into Instagram through their #frontdoorkit posts in Instagram. Note in the image below… good comment engagement and almost 4,000 likes.
According to Virginia, the first step in getting there is to create a worrking hypothesis between the relative relationships of your social program and commerce. Come up with testworthy screnarios, build the data framework on the backend so you can measure, then test away.
In the Q&A session, Virginia was asked when’s the aha! moment when a brand starts to understand that it’s about connecting with customers and not all about the brand itself. She answered that it’s when the Customer Insights person gets the mic.