Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Category — Marketing

Examples Of Social Media Marketing In Action

Former Forrester Research analyst Peter Kim has created a true labor of love with a list of 200+ examples of how companies and brands are levering social media marketing.

He captured a couple of my favorites that I’ve written about in the past, including Nike+, Carnival Cruise Lines, and Dove Evolution.

What is clear is that many brands and companies are trying innovative ways to tap into social media as a way to engage their consumers.

From his list I found this link to Blendtec’s YouTube channel, which as of this writing has had over 2 million channel views and over 100,000 subscribers.

Here is the latest iteration of “Will It Blend?”, featuring Nike:

YouTube Preview Image

September 7, 2008   No Comments

Web Behavior And Better Digital Marketing

There are lots of digital marketing campaigns out there that look great flashing on a page, but in the end, never really seem to connect with consumers.

The main problem is that marketers are trying to shoehorn traditional marketing tactics onto digital mediums.  In this post that appeared in Ad Age, David Armano of Logic+Emotion has a great term for this in between approach to digital; he calls it “Tradigital” marketing:

“Tradigital, in my opinion, means using traditional marketing methods in the digital space. For example, creating an advertising campaign and “extending it digitally” usually ends up as a checklist. Micro-site? Check. Online banners? Check. Social media? Check. Mobile? Check.”

His answer to better digital marketing is a staple of what good marketers have done well in the past, which is understanding consumer behavior, this time in the digital space:

“It’s time to come to terms with how people really use the web (hint — it might not be to figure out your experimental navigation) and how we can harness the true power of digital.”

The way most people use the web, in contrast to something like watching TV, is as an active medium, rather than passive.

Whether it is asking questions through search, uploading family photos to Flickr, or communicating with friends through social networking, most of the time spent on the web is spent doing something.  Or, as Armano puts it, solving problems.

Which is why traditional interruption marketing like flashing banner ads, are not only ineffective, but in most cases, very irritating in their distraction.

A solution to better digital marketing would be to look at the top reasons why people use the internet and then ask how your digital marketing efforts can enhance their activities rather than distract:

  • How can your digital marketing help people better connect with their friends or people with similar interests?
  • How can your digital marketing connect your core consumers with the music or video content they really want to see?
  • Are your digital marketing efforts genuinely entertaining and are they something people would want to share with their family and friends?
  • How is your digital marketing helping people search for information quicker or more reliably?

I know it seems odd to ask digital marketing to simply lever what Facebook or YouTube are doing already.  It doesn’t seem groundbreaking or that creative.

But therein lies the point: how effective do you think your flashing banner ad is when it only serves to stand in the way of what people really want to do online?

August 4, 2008   No Comments

How Word Of Mouth Can Drive Retail Buzz

In my previous post on social shopping, there was a good comment exchange with Shammara on the role of word of mouth in online retail, which led me to look at the influence of online reviews on purchase behavior.

From this Deloitte study, we find the 82% of online shoppers who read reviews say reviews have a direct influence on what they buy, either changing their minds on which product to buy or to provide reassurance on purchasing their original choice.

consumer review purchase influence

This word of mouth influence from consumer generated reviews covers a broad range of products, from electronics to consumer packaged goods.

consumer review product purchases influence

There also seems to be a wide range of approaches that allow sites to capitalize on word of mouth.

For instance, at you can find not only customer reviews, but also editorial reviews, personalized recommendations, wish lists, tell a friend links, Listmania, and “Customers who bought (or looked at) this item also bought”, etc.

Buzzillions, as Shammara pointed out, is an aggregator of customer reviews of products that collects reviews from retailers across the web, such as REI, Staples, and BH Photo.

What I find innovative about their approach is how they provide verification for all 2.3 million reviews they’ve collected to date and the unique way they use tagging to classify the different reviews across all the categories they cover.  This tagging allows them provide useful snapshot reviews that include summaries of top pros, cons, and best uses for a product.

Yelp is a review site that does for restaurants and other local venues, what Amazon does for books.

By incorporating key features of social networking, including such things as extensive user profiles and connections to friends, Yelp levers social proof and authority, which are two of the four key principles of persuasive social media marketing, in order to bring their site to life.

Each of these resources utilize customer and/or user reviews in different ways, but all are highly effective.  By levering the power of consumer generated word of mouth, they are able to take online (and offline) retail to the next level.

July 29, 2008   2 Comments

The Premature Death Of Traditional Media

Traditional media has been taking it on the chin recently, with newspapers fading into irrelevance and TV effectiveness plummeting.

As this clip from Microsoft shows (hat tip to Joe Pulizzi), traditional media just doesn’t seem to get it:

YouTube Preview Image

Which is why reading “Traditional Media Not Dead Yet For Marketing” in the New York Times was all the more interesting to me.

According to a study of 16 types of media conducted by Yankelovich, in association with Sequent Partners, when consumers were asked what kind of an impression a particular type of ad made, 56 percent of survey respondents said traditional media ads made a positive impression, in contrast to 31 percent who said that about digital media ads.

Additionally, thirteen percent of viewers reported a negative impression of traditional media ads versus 21 percent for digital media ads

The main explanation is that in mediums such as print or TV, people are experiencing advertising when they are relaxing, versus most of the digital advertising they see that occurs when they are actively trying to do something else (searching for something, communicating, etc.).

As J. Walker Smith, president at the Yankelovich Monitor division of Yankelovich in Atlanta, explains:

“When I’m tracking down information or looking for an answer or trying to compare things or searching for a link, ads are irritating to a degree not true when I’m relaxed and unwinding with TV or a magazine and thus more open to diversion.”

However, this generalization makes universal sense only if you assume that the future of digital advertising is pop-up ads.

In reality, the more effective forms of digital advertising are based on engagement and providing something worthwhile for consumers, all in the context of a branded environment.

Whether it is Alternate Reality Games, what You Tube is doing with buzz marketing, or how Nike is building active communities of users, the sophistication and effectiveness of digital marketing is increasing daily.

Traditional media is certainly not dead. It’s still very effective today in exposing a wide range of consumers to a simple, common message.

However, believing that the future of marketing is still the 30 second spot or the full page print ad is a bit like believing vinyl records are the next big thing for the sagging music industry.

June 20, 2008   1 Comment

It’s Too Easy Being Green

Has “going green” in marketing and advertising got consumers “seeing red”?

Everyone from whom you’d expect (Method home products) to whom you wouldn’t expect (British Petroleum) are crafting messages that play off people’s growing awareness and concern around environmental issues.

However, as this study in Marketing Charts from Burst Media shows, consumers aren’t necessarily buying into all that green messaging:

  • Only one in five respondents (22.7%) say they “usually” or ”always” believe green claims made in advertisements.
  • Two-thirds of consumers (65.3%) of respondents say they “sometimes” believe green claims made in advertisements.

Green Advertising Chart

The reason for consumer skepticism is simple, and it has to do with authenticity. For the vast majority of products being marketed, “going green” is a tactic rather than something central to its brand or design.

Does that mean brands and products shouldn’t go green? And if they do, how should they make meaningful and believable communication?

Seth Godin suggests that marketers should give consumers a number:

Stick with the lightbulbs you have throughout your whole house until they burn out: 175.
Replace them all now with something better: 142.


Drive to Philadelphia: 150.
Take Amtrak: 22.

His reasoning is that seeing a number attached to environmental behavior gives people something to work towards, which then motivates them towards more green behavior.

“The power of a number is the effect we saw when they put a number on restaurants (Zagats) and wines (Parker) and gas mileage (the EPA). People notice a number, and they work to improve it. If every car sold in our country had a real-time gas consumption meter on the dashboard and the rear window, things would change very fast.”

Focusing on a tangible number is certainly more effective than some vague “green” platitudes.

However, until more transparency and authenticity permeates environmentally conscious marketing messages, consumer skepticism around “green” advertising will only continue to grow.

May 5, 2008   No Comments

4 Principles Of Persuasive Social Media Marketing

Having spent a lot of time recently behind the glass at focus groups, I had a chance to pick up a recent copy of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association magazine, Views.

In it was a very insightful interview of Dr. Robert Cialdini by Sharon Livingston of the Livingston Group for Marketing.

Dr. Cialdini is a professor of Psychology at Arizona State University and is president of Influence at Work.

In the interview, he mentions several Principles of Persuasion that he developed by studying how different companies and organizations approach influencing their consumers or members.

Of these principles, I found four that led me to direct corollaries or implications across different aspects of Social Media Marketing.

1.) Social Proof:
Social Proof is when someone is confronted with something new or uncertain, they tend to look to the behavior and opinions of others, which then plays a strong influence on their own behaviors and attitudes. This behavior tends to snowball, which then can lead to a phenomenon I’ve written about before, crowd cascades.

A simple example from the interview is that when a restaurant flags a particular entree as “This is our most popular dish,” it generally becomes more popular. Another restaurant example I’d add is how the number cars in the parking lot can influence someone’s opinion of the quality of the food or the atmosphere inside, simply by providing Social Proof that the restaurant is popular.

  • From an online marketing standpoint, Social Proof is the engine behind the exponential popularity growth of certain posts on social news sites as soon as they manage several thumbs up or votes.
  • Receiving a certain amount of votes leads to Social Proof, which then creates even more votes as a post’s popularity cascades.

2.) Authority:
In social environments, most people look to legitimate experts and authorities to provide guidance. The more someone develops themselves as an authority, the more likely they’ll be able to influence behavior and have people follow their lead.

I really like the example Cialdini cites of a sociological experiment that tried to get at the effect of perceived authority:

“They put a man on a street corner and had him cross the street against the light, against the traffic, against the law. Half of the time he was dressed in jeans, an open-neck shirt and running shoes and the other half of the time he was dressed in a business suit, pressed shirt, tie and shiny shoes. Then they counted how many people followed along behind him. An amazing 350 percent more people followed him when he was wearing a suit.”

  • Authority in Social Media is both a perceived thing (You look like you know what your talking about, so I’ll listen to you) and a tangible thing (The higher the PageRank and network of friends, the more likely someone can drive traffic to sites or garner votes in social news).
  • These are both factors that Robojiannis has covered extensively on his blog and in his master thesis on “Attention and Participation In The Social Web”.
  • Tangible social media authority was also the underlying topic of a very interesting blog post by Kimberley Bock about new users and voting patterns on Sphinn. I felt the subsequent comment exchange also added a ton of insight into the concept of authority as well.

3.) Reciprocation:
By providing something to people first, you increase the likelihood that people will want to do something for you as well.

The example of Reciprocation mentioned in the interview is of a direct mail campaign by the Disabled American Veterans association.

“When they send out their direct mail requests for contributions to their organization, they get about an 18 percent hit on their rate. But, if they include a little packet of personalized address labels in the envelope, their hit rate of contributions goes up to 36 percent because people have received something. Now they feel obligated to give back.”

  • From an online marketing standpoint, the Social Media best practice of mutual Diggs and Stumbles is an example of the principle of Reciprocation in action.
  • Additionally, providing white papers, widget tools, calculators, etc., are all value adds that engage users and bring them back for more.

4.) Liking:
Liking, not surprisingly, is based upon the fact that we are more likely to listen to and follow the actions of people we know and like.

Cialdini breaks Liking down to two key aspects:

“One is similarity; we like the people who are like us, especially in values and attitudes and opinions and so on. Secondly, we like the people who like us and say so by giving us compliments.”

  • Social Media, by its very nature, tends to cluster people with similar attitudes and values. I believe what sets effective Social Marketers apart is their ability to respond to others in a group with empathy, to publicly recognize the achievements and good thinking of group members, and to always treat others the way you yourself would want to be treated.
  • Flaming social group members and their opinions may generate buzz and controversy, but its long term negative effect will far outweigh its short term bump in interest.

Since this is by no means an exhaustive list, I’d be curious to know what other principles people have when it comes to persuasive Social Media Marketing.

March 24, 2008   3 Comments

Consumer-Centric New Product Development

What does consumer-centric new product development look like?

I can think of no better example than this one from Seth Godin:

“Instead of looking for customers for your products, you seek out products (and services) for the tribe.”

The tribe he is referring to is an interconnected, homogeneous group that a brand or a company can help foster.

By forming a community and then developing products just for them, a brand can ensure a core consumer base, a word of mouth launchpad, and a feedback network to tell you what you did right and what you need to fix.

Rather than fight the tide of social networking, companies should flow with it and see where it takes them. As Godin writes:

“People form tribes with or without us. The challenge is to work for the tribe and make it something even better.”

January 30, 2008   No Comments

Whatever You’ve Learned About Advertising Is Now Probably Wrong

From this January 18th article in Businessweek, a quote from a recent McKinsey Consulting report gave me a significant pause:

“Traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective in 2010 as it was in 1990.”

I had to read that again.

Then I Googled the entire quote, and pulled up some more conclusions from the same study, this time from Marketing Vox:

“According to McKinsey, real ad spending on prime-time broadcast TV has increased over last decade by about 40 percent even as viewers have dropped almost 50 percent.

The Businessweek article goes on to show how just about everything that today’s CPG marketers have learned in their careers to effectively market their brands is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Media fragmentation, the rise of web based entertainment, and the drastically different media consumption patterns of young consumers are all significant factors.

Most traditional marketers have heard that the future of advertising is a two-way conversation, versus talking at consumers one-way. Most have also heard about the growing importance of word-of-mouth, engagement and viral advertising.

But if McKinsey is right in their forecast, these “emerging” techniques and forms of advertising will be anything but emerging in a couple of years.

In fact, they may be the only things that work.

January 28, 2008   2 Comments