Everyone talks that Internet has changed this world and we are global village. Now distance, time lapes and unavailability of information don’t exist anymore. Often people ask me what is one SINGLE change Internet brought to our lives. And I say – “It has ignited, the appetite for Information within us”. For every small thing now we Google as first step. We are now more open to seek information on everything.
In good old days, we as advertisers had a much simpler life. We were used to telling our target consumers what we wanted to tell through our advertisements. We could sit back and relax after creating an advertisement. Even if consumers had a different opinion about a particular brand or product, they didn’t have much choice other than to complain and may be talk negatively in their peer group. In short, we could always control the damage by addressing problem one to one.
But suddenly everything has changed. A large section of consumers is out there with mobiles in their hands which are Internet ready and it has empowered consumers to take photos, make videos and voice their opinion virtually on everything. Now, voice of one consumer can reach out to millions of people within no time. Suddenly, we see brand and products being talked on various forums and blogs. Consumers are frantically tweeting and posting comments on Facebook about liking and disliking. This has somehow dislodged the complete plan for an advertiser. It has thrown a new challenge for brand custodians and it appears everyone is struggling with a way forward strategy in changed times.
But in this article I want to focus on Credibility of Third Party. In changed times, advertising is now taking a complete U-turn from BIG IDEA advertising to PRODUCT advertising. Advertisers suddenly realise that BIG creative idea doesn’t hold good as consumers are more aware and can voice their opinions on an impulse. Each Tweet, Facebook, Forum and Blog post helps build or take away credibility of a brand and may add to effectiveness of your advertising or may prove your advertising completely false. Wow, what a unique challenge!
So, as advertisers while we keep building strong emotional connect with consumer for our brands, we simultaneously need to work on a separate strategy to build positive word of mouth through Third Party Credibility about our brands. Several clients come to me to help them in the way forward using Social Media. And I reply to them – why do you want to make a half-hearted effort in digital space, better not to waste your money. Social Media doesn’t mean addressing the complete digital space, as a Facebook Page alone or likes on it will not help a brand grow nor will it help in building a positive third party word of mouth for a brand.
The digital way forward for a product is a Philosphy and not an Activity. Digital strategy for your brand needs to be long term and can’t target on short term roles. It is about creating a positive word of mouth and information around the brand and not talking about the brand. It is about how we can learn from Social Media and throw back the learnings into the digital space. It is about the ability to amplify the Social Media learnings. It is about giving control of our brands in the hands of consumers, who in turn become Brand Advocates.
But to do so, we need to make ‘Ordinary Consumer’, an ‘Informed Consumer’. This means we need to educate our consumers on product features, advantages and benefits, because this is what they will eventually will talk in the Social Space, certainly not many consumers are going to talk on emotional connect with the brand through social networks. So, as way forward, broadly we need to focus on the following:
1. Keep building the brand through a strong emotional connect.
2. Reach out to consumers with more on product information, maybe using Third Party Advertising Tools.
3. Learn from Social Media and amplify or throw back learnings in the social space.
4. Develop a strong Customer Care Department, which addresses consumers proactively and also keeps a close eye on the social space.
(Sanjeev Singhai is Business Director, Indian Sub-Continent, at Buchanan Group India.)