To Build Consumer Trust, Brand Advocates Are the Key

These days, the consumer decision journey is more fragmented than ever. Shoppers have an abundant amount of online resources to help them decide which product to purchase and where. With so much information at their fingertips, trust and authenticity are key factors of influencing purchases. About.com recently conducted a study (featured in eMarketer) that found that there are 10 primary trust “elements,” or cues, that brands must establish in order to engender trust, including accuracy, expertise and transparency. 84% of respondents felt that brands needed to prove themselves trustworthy before they would interact with them.

In a social media context, the #1 way (at 41%) that brands can build trust with customers/prospects is allowing them to see reviews from people in their social networks.

Now, I know what you're thinking...How can I get more positive reviews on social networks?

By finding and activating your best customers- your Brand Advocates! Your Advocates won't just write any review. They'll write reviews that are oozing with enthusiasm and excitement. Parallels, a desktop virtualization software company, has energized its Advocates to create and publish reviews on Amazon. The average of star rating was 4.7/5 stars which boosted Parallels' star rating on Amazon from 3.5 to 4.5.

But wait! Advocates' advocacy doesn't stop at just reviews. As Lauren McCadney, head of social media for CDW and a Top 2012 Digital Marketer would say, “A review created by an Advocate is only one manifestation of advocacy. This is just the start of a relationship with Advocates, not the end.”

Brand Advocates are eager to be part of your brand. The question is, how do you want your Advocates to support you? Click here to read 7 ways (beyond reviews) to turn your Advocates into a marketing force.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

eMarketer: Brand Advocacy Becoming Critical Part of Social Media Marketing Mix

Industry experts and social media influencers who have thousands of blog subscribers or Twitter followers may seem attractive to marketers. However, many companies have an untapped digital gold mine: their most satisfied customers AKA Brand Advocates. Advocates are defined by their genuine enthusiasm for brands versus the measure of their social following (which could indeed be large as well). By leveraging their authentic passion, brands can amplify positive Word of Mouth, increase engagement, and drive leads and sales. eMarketer just published an article and report, “Brand Advocates Scaling Social Media Word of Mouth” which highlights key characteristics and motivations of Brand Advocates including research from a recent Zuberance brand advocacy study.

Here are some of the key characteristics of Brand Advocates from the report:

Brand Advocates recommend products and services, and do so frequently.

Brand Advocates educate other consumers.

Brand Advocates want to share their positive brand experiences to help others (vs getting rewards or discounts)

Brand Advocates are influenced by social media.

It's clear that Brand Advocates are an influential and powerful marketing force. While creating a brand advocacy strategy, marketers need to ask themselves one question: What do you want your Advocates to do for you? Check out 7 ways to leverage your Brand Advocates here.

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

This Week in Social: Twitter Pumps Discovery Feature, Facebook IPO May 18

Twitter Pumps Up Discovery Feature with Social Signals - CNET

Twitter's "Discover" feature is getting more dialed in to users' preferences, a blog post by Twitter Vice President Satya Patel announced this morning. The post says the feature will pay attention to "additional personalization signals" to figure out which stories to display, instead of just showing users what's trending.

Facebook Sets IPO Date For May 18: Report - Forbes

Facebook has set a planned date for its initial public offering of May 18, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter.” The social networking giant is expected to start its roadshow on Monday to pitch the company to potential Wall Street investors, the Journal reports.

79% of Marketers Plan to Increase Spend on Social Media Marketing - eMarketer

As marketers spread their time and resources across digital, social media is becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle. Looking at spending on advertising and marketing tactics, 79% of US marketing professionals said they plan to increase spending on social media marketing or ads in the next 12 months, with mobile and tablet spending not far behind, at 75% and 66%, respectively, as the next areas that will see budget growth.

Report: Cover Images Draw Eyeballs on Facebook Timeline Pages - AllFacebook

Eye-tracking outfit EyeTrackShop turned its eyes to timeline for pages and found that the cover image was king.EyeTrackShop’s findings ran counter to those from another eye-tracking study earlier this month by Simple Usability, which concluded that the importance of cover images was overrated, saying that most users did not notice creative combinations of the cover image and profile image, and many thought of the former as advertising space.

LinkedIn Tops the Forbes Fast Fast Tech 25: Annual List of Growth Kings - Forbes

The crucial question for investors is how much weight you give to things you can’t begin to imagine. That leap of faith is what drives interest in our list of America’s 25 Fastest-Growing Tech Companies. All of them have shown a remarkable ability to defy sales gravity. We combed more than 5,000 publicly traded technology companies, looking for profitable companies with a minimum revenue of $150 million and a minimum market value of $500 million.

Social Media Campaigns Revv Up Brand Advocates

Social media campaigns get and keep Brand Advocates in consumer product goods (CPG) revved up, according to a new BzzAgent study published today in eMarketer. The study showed that 39% of Advocates would recommend a CPG product before a social media campaign. That’s a very high percentage and further evidence that the percentage of consumers who are Advocates is much higher than people think. That percentage jumps to 61% after being exposed to a social media campaign, the study showed.

Additionally, after a year of being exposed to a social media campaign, actual purchase intent remained at 61% proving that social marketing programs hold long-lasting effects on brand engagement and advocacy.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance

Recommend your favorite brands at School of WOM and win an iPad! #WOMMA

Zuberance is a proud sponsor of WOMMA's upcoming conference, School of WOM on May 9-11 in Chicago!

What is School of WOM?

School of WOM, hosted by the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, provides attendees with education and insights into the Art and Science of Creating Talkable Brands—something, as marketing professionals, we all want to learn more about. School of WOM brings people, tools, techniques and best practices together under one roof for three jam-packed days of strategy based, hands-on, practical sharing focused on social business.  It’s a holistic education - perfect for anyone who sees the puzzle in the pieces.

If you’re wondering about things like:

  • Best practices in the latest innovations in WOM and social technologies
  • How to craft a talkable brand story that customers find memorable, irresistible, and shareable
  • How to capitalize on the latest and most vetted ways to measure WOM and social media success
  • How to ignite customer conversations by delivering on experiences

….you’ll learn about that and much more at WOMMA School of WOM

Recommend your favorite brands and win an iPad!

Visit Zuberance in the networking lounge and tell us what brands you recommend. We'll be tracking recommendations from attendees (and their networks) in real-time at the show. Take a minute to share and we'll sweeten the deal by entering you to win an iPad. Stop by our table and take a picture with Brand Advocate Man (yes, he's our superhero) and you'll double your odds!

Join us after School of WOM for the Chicago Brand Advocacy Series!

Zuberance will be hosting an exclusive social media panel and cocktail party for brands, marketers, and influencers the last night of School of WOM: Wednesday, May 11 from 5:30-8:30pm at the River East Arts Center. The panel will discuss "How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales" and feature marketers from CDW, Alberto Culver, Gage Marketing, Zuberance, and will be moderated by Brian Quinton of Chief Marketer.

Click here to learn more about the Chicago Brand Advocacy Series.

Looking forward to an awesome week in Chicago! Hope you can join us!

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance

May 11 Chicago Social Media panel with CDW, Alberto Culver, Gage & Chief Marketer

Zuberance is hosting an exclusive social media panel and cocktail party on Wednesday, May 11 in Chicago, the last night of WOMMA's School of WOM, called "How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales." As part of our Brand Advocacy Series, the event will bring together leading brands, marketers, and influencers to discuss real-world case studies, best practices and steps brands can take now to draw the line from social media marketing to ROI. To request an invitation, click here. (Note: This event is not limited to School of WOM attendees.)

Event Details

  • Date: Wednesday May 11, 2011
  • Time: 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
  • Location: River East Arts Center, 435 East Illinois Street, Chicago
  • Twitter hashtag: #CHIBAS

Featured Panel:

It's the $64,000 question: "Can social media and Word of Mouth marketing make me money?" We see examples of it happening all the time, but no one seems to be offering up any prescriptive solutions. Is there a formula for employing social media to drive measurable increases in qualified leads, traffic, and sales? The good news is that there are answers!

Join us and learn about:

  • Energizing Brand Advocates: How to harness your brand's fans into a powerful marketing channel
  • Real-World Case Studies: How leading brands are leveraging WOM and social media to drive customer acquisition
  • Measuring ROI: How to measure the ROI of WOM and social media
  • Best Practices: The do's and don'ts of effective WOM and social media marketing

To request an invitation, click here.

Join the conversation on Twitter now using #CHIBAS.

Take a look at the recap of our San Francisco Brand Advocacy Series event featuring marketers from TiVo, Intel, and Edelman Digital.

We hope to see you there!

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manger, Zuberance