A new breed of digitally connected brand advocates is emerging that brands need to pay better attention to, according to a new study by Geometry Global, a specialized brand agency funded by G2, Ogilvy & Mather and JWT.
About 80 percent of consumers are digitally engaged in some way and of those, 25 percent are brand-connected advocates (BCCs) super fans that actively seek a relationship with the brand, according to the study, which was published in conjunction with EXPO Communications, an online video platform that conducts market research.
Unlike consumers simply looking for freebies or those seeking to promote themselves, these digital consumers want to be shown appreciation by the brands they endorse, says Daphne Kwon, chief executive of EXPO Communications.
"BCCs want to be acknowledged by brands. They want to feel valued by you," Kwon told participants at the Ad:tech conference in New York this week. "Too often brands pay them short shrift."
The study is based on interviews with 699 digitally connected consumers as well as 300 people from the general population. Digitally connected consumers, according to the study, either post about brands, at brands, or are seeking brand information. BCCs, however, distinguished themselves by posting to and about brands several times a week, both on their own social networks as well as on official brand pages.
The majority of these users were females between the ages of 18-34, employed full time, who had kids and were in charge of the household grocery shopping, according to Ken Madden, head of digital, North America, at Geometry Global. These consumers were also found to shop more frequently than others and their interactions with brands continue to influence their purchasing habits, says Madden. Their recommendations, in turn, are influential on the purchasing decisions of other digitally connected consumers, making them a valuable brand asset.
Overall, the study found that whether or not brands respond to consumers has a large impact on the future buying behavior of digitally engaged consumers. About 40 percent of those satisfied with an online exchange were found to purchase more from that brand, with two in ten of them making a purchase for the first time, Madden says. But the results when they didn't get a response -which happened more than half the time - were serious: about 70 percent of those people stopped buying from the brand altogether.
Brands don't have to look far to find BCCs, according to Kwon. Most of them post on Facebook, on the company's website or are YouTube subscribers. "They make themselves known to you. But you have to round them up and communicate with them," she says.
Brands need to ask themselves how these BCC's can add value to their own efforts, but also ask themselves how they can best reward their brand advocates.
"Ensure that you have a structure to stay engaged and then celebrate the content that they produce," Kwon recommends. "They want a relationship, not to win a prize."
Many companies make the mistake of asking fans for a one-time contribution of a jingle or a logo, but then fail to follow up. "They expect you to be there. 66 percent of BCCs for example, checked back on the brand page they posted on to see if their review was answered. They are proud of themselves and they like it when you celebrate them," she notes.
She cited the example of P&G house cleaning products subsidiary Swiffer, which earlier this year utilized video product reviews from Facebook fans to create buzz ahead of its June launch of its new Swiffer Bissel Steam Mop product, Steamboost.
In March, Swiffer announced on its Facebook page that it was taking applications from consumers who wanted to test out and review a new "top secret" product. Those who applied were asked to take a six minute survey and, if chosen, to film a video review of the new product. Around 60,000 consumers applied and the campaign generated 2 million social impressions, according to Kwon, although she said P&G wouldn't release information on how many consumer reviews were featured in the end. Swiffer posted the resulting videos on at Swiffer.com, in display ads on Walmart, Target, and Drugstore, as well as on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
"They celebrated the content to create SEO impact and start the buzz without a dollar of paid media," says Kwon. "Content can move your business."
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Mary Lisbeth D'Amico is a freelance writer based in Jersey City who frequently covers digital marketing, social media, tech startups, and venture capital. She has contributed to a wide range of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Red Herring, and Real Deals. Find her on Twitter at @mldamico.
March 19, 2014