Reputation (mis)management??

‘I shop at Waitrose because… I don’t like being surrounded by poor people’: Internet jokers hijack ‘posh people’s supermarket’ Twitter stunt

Internet Lesson 1.01: Once it’s out there – you can’t take it back!

Whilst Waitrose would sooner like to forget this PR disaster the memory lives on thanks to the ‘www’ and  although this campaign took place in September it still has viral traction!  Last week I received one of those email ‘forwards’ from a friend and this was the joke being passed around – this one’s got a good shelf life!

In September The Daily Mail published the latest social media casualty: the Waitrose twitter (failed) campaign on why people shopped there.  It was a PR disaster!  Waitrose trying to shed its reputation for being just for the rich were doing a good job reinforcing the message; the ‘Waitrose Esssentials’ range and even their brand match campaign ‘Our prices on branded grocery products are now identical to Tesco’s’.  The twitter campaign was intended to get ‘regular’ shoppers to tweet the reasons they shop at Waitrose, however the campaign got hijacked with the majority of tweets reinforcing the posh positioning! It’s worth reading the full article but here are few of the ‘unexpected responses’ :

  • ‘I shop at Waitrose because Clarrisa’s pony just WILL NOT eat ASDA Value straw,’ one said
  • Another said: ‘I shop at Waitrose because the toilet paper is made from 24ct gold thread’
  • ‘ASDA peacock feed isn’t as nice’ was anothers response

So whilst this has been dissected many times over, it worth highlighting a few lessons on social reputation management that we can learn from this;

1. Be clear on the objective

Be clear about what you want to achieve and set your goals accordingly.  The open question Waitrose asked left them open to ridicule.  With a medium like twitter there are a number of free ‘buzz tools’ available that help you understand and gauge sentiment.  Let the data drive the decisions!  If you analyse the sentiment you’ll get a wealth of information what your customers are talking about.  Develop realistic goals for example, monthly campaigns talking about the key sentiments for that particular period.  No-one likes pushy sales messages!

2. The customer is king!

With social media the customers often have a greater share of voice than the brand – you don’t make the rules!  Social Media is about dialogue; engaging with your customers . You’re invited to their party not the other way around.  Find the ‘pollinators’- opinion leaders and influencers.  These are your brand ambassadors that influence your target audience.  Find effective ways to spread the message through these channels to the multiple existing social communities.  These numerous (actually in their millions) communities represent your earned media, and using these communities managers to socialise your brand is highly effective.

3. Have a Social Policy

This doesn’t have to be complicated.  When you send out a press release it’s standard that you know within your company who will be fronting the press calls. Just because twitter does not require the same process to sending out a press release doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be measures in place that help employees understand the social media ‘rules of engagement’.  For example, what they can tweet about, tone of voice, impact of personal handles (twitter account), chain of command for when it goes ‘pear-shaped’ etc. Everyone within the business should be encouraged to be a SM champion from the CE, to the development team, client services etc.  It’s less about control but more about putting guidelines and best practice in place.

Nothing is fool proof, so ensure that you have a fall back plan for crisis management – particularly who is the ‘go-to-person’ and how to approach the negative sentiment.  It also goes without saying, measure everything!  If you’re consistent in measuring the results you’ll soon figure what works best.

In conclusion, whilst everyone is busy with year-end results, consider your 2013 targets. Have you got a 2013 social media plan for your own, earned and paid media?

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Mobile ‘browsers’ ultimately become buyers…

51% of automotive mobile browsers go on to make a purchase, according to the recent report (2012) released by Nielsen Research xAD and Telmetrics.  This survey leveraged actual observed mobile behaviour matched with survey responses to understand mobile consumption and the consumer patter-to-purchase.  The survey covered 3 target industries:

  • Automotive
  • Travel
  • Restaurants

Another key insight was measuring how mobile can impact a purchase decision.  Surprisingly, 62% of potential automotive buyers had not made a decision during their initial use accessing an app or website with their device.

The significance of this shows us that potential buyers can still be influenced into making a purchase of a particular brand with a particular dealership during their initial mobile (re)search, moreover 51% of automotive mobile browsers go on to make purchases, however is your brand or dealership geared up to deliver on customer expectations across multiple devices?

It’s simple, catch up to the 21st century needs of your customer or lose the business to your competitors!

Many experts argue that marketers (and dare I say agencies) have too great a tendency to view standalone apps and ‘adaptive’ design (also referred to as responsive design) as one-size-fits-all solution (magic wand!) to their digital problems.

With this in mind here are 3 key things to consider for your mobile site:

  • User Experience: When adaptive design works it’s great.  However, if you’re just pushing the same content out over multiple devices it totally ignores the usage profile of those devices, for example you may find the image of a car is not fully displayed and gets cropped when viewed on a particular mobile device compared to the website or tablet.  Ensure you understand the differences between web and mobileweb and what the customer expectations are of multiple devices.  If a customer is just getting the same stuff beautifully resized for different screens/devices, you could well be annoying them and you don’t want to do that!
  • Content: One of the biggest fallacies of adaptive design is that it somehow acts like ‘Aladdin’s magic lamp’ – it magically makes content work on mobile.  Adaptive design on its own does not equate to an optimised mobile or table solution! Caveat emptor! (buyer beware).  Mobile is about immediacy, if a prospective buyer is accessing branded content via a mobile, then the likelihood they want corporate spiel is low – they’re probably just looking for a phone number, address or some location based service.  This means rendering the the same content from your website possibly won’t be what they’re wanting.  Content on mobile is often bite-size and specific.  On the other hand if they are on their sofa watching a movie and whilst perhaps surfing on their tablet, they would probably be more receptive to a fuller site; a more in-depth experience. eBay have a really good mobile site, it’s easy to view your watch list, place a bid and communicate with the buyer/seller.
  • Metrics: it can’t be said enough; measure, measure, measure!  The uniqueness of mobile is the ability to specifically target customers.  However, in order to do this one needs to measure the right goals (actions you intend the customer to carry out e.g. click to call, send an enquiry etc.), understand the data and apply it.  For example, how does a customers content needs vary with different times of the day.  If they hold an executive position and juggle the demands of family life, they may be more likely to consume child related promotions before 9am, whilst being more receptive to other personal related promotions during the day.  Needless to say metrics and reporting go hand in hand, and it’s important that you can provide your senior business stakeholders with the relevant key data to access via tablet, mobile or web.
Try and fail fast – test various design and content format and measure to see what works most effectively for your business.


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What will todays 1 year old want when they buy a car?!

I’d like to think that my little cousin is ecstatic about me visiting because he loves me to bits :) but I think the reality is he loves my iPad more!!  I’m really in trouble when his 3 year old brother get his hands on it or worse still my phone!!  This is the reality of ‘digital kids’.  They’re growing up with the benchmark of tablet functionality so pretty much expect nothing less.  So what will their technology expectations be when they drive their first car?

According to Intel’s Staci Palmer, by 2013 the car is predicted to be the third most connected place people spend time and by 2016 there will another crucial factor in the purchase decision: how connected is my car!  Because of this, in The Telegraph’s article The connected car: coming to your street soon  it’s reported Intel has invested $100m over the next three to five years to act as a catalyst for innovation and to build relationships with manufacturers.

As we know technology is reshaping the way we research, engage, connect and purchase.  The question is will the gap increase between the digital experience manufacturers and dealers offer and what customers expect?  It’s one thing looking ahead to what todays one year old will expect (and rightly so), but at the moment so many fall short of even the basics in providing todays customer with an optimised multi-device and location experience.  In the UK its reported that 70% of businesses are not mobile optimised – shocking!  According to IAB research, if your mobile site hasn’t loaded within 3 seconds your customer has gone to a competitor!  It’s becoming more important that the online showroom experience is more consistent with the offline bricks-and-mortar showroom experience.  Are you turning away potential customers online?

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Why Dealer websites are crucial for the car buyer!

I was recently going through the Cap Gemini 11/12 report which details Information Sources that a prospective car buyer uses in their decision making.  Technology has impacted our lives from social connections, to education and purchase decisions.  Information is now instantly available and channels of communication are faster, interactive and more engaging.  In 2007 the average purchase cycle for a new car buyer was between 4 – 6 months.  Now in 2012 it’s between 1 – 2 months!  In addition the majority only visiting their dealership of choice 2 weeks before purchase.

A car buyer is 3 to 4 times more likely to purchase (generate a lead) on a Dealer website than a national site and from this report  53% of UK car buyers will use a Dealer website for their research compared to 48% using a manufacturer site!  That’s huge.  Yet sadly, many dealer sites do not have a consistent brand experience, outdated content and dare I say take longer than 4 hours to action leads… Result = competition has won the business.

For those Dealerships with great websites (and there are many) they will be testament to the importance of the online showroom – their website!

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Is bigger better?

When it comes to twitter followers I believe its more a case of quality than quantity!  It’s one thing buying qualified leads and quite another buying followers.  What’s the value of buying (more) followers?  What will you do with them?  I’m a firm believer of keeping it simple starting with your objective – create value.  If you can be part of the story, provide thought leadership and interesting content people will listen, and more importantly engage – clicks, conversation or comments.  In some cases it does result in new business – but it starts by adding value.

I like the way Chris Brogan puts it “The challenge is to get more active and clicking numbers, the kind of people who take the plunge when you mention something is happening”

In his post Get more twitter followersChris has some valuable Do’s and Don’ts – hopefully the Do’s won’t be too much of a surprise!  I love 3 of his Don’ts, or as he puts it, ‘Things you might do less or not at all’

  1. Never once mention (or think about, or worry about) your Klout score.
  2. Never once think much about following “influencers.” Follow people who seem interesting.
  3. Don’t worry about retweeting the big guys. They have plenty of exposure already.

His blog is well worth a read, and could save you some unnecessary budget spend, time and resource!

Photograph Credits to Nancie J Wight

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Does Social Media have an ROI?

In a word YES!  But as with everything the way you go about it impacts your results.  Personally speaking over the last few months as a result of the social web I have developed at least 2 strong business partnerships, build(ing) a brand reputation and secured several qualified business leads resulting in signed contracts! I did not spam my followers and connections with overt sales messages, but rather shared newsworthy content to specific audiences across different social networks.

From my experience in business, people buy from people.  Why? Trust, rapport and specialist knowledge – the rest will follow.  It’s worth bearing in mind that ‘word-of-mouth’ applies to both good and bad service, and if they have a bad experience they won’t just the traditional 9 people anymore, it’s countless numbers through the web.  The social web has great impact for brands, both positive and negative.  In my article How ‘Pollinators’ change the marketing equation for Land Rover  you see how an automotive brand targets their influencer audiences online resulting in highly effective reach, engagement and sales leads.  Brands that identify the various social communities and interest groups with their influencer audience, can generate measurable results using proven social platforms to reach this audience.

My personal view is that there’s a lot of confusion in the market place about social media.  In these challenging economic times, businesses have to prove ROI on their investments and marketing is no exception.  Social Media can definitely deliver an ROI for your business but to do so requires a well thought out strategy, which includes resource (time, budget, people) allocation.  Consider the basics:

  • how are your owned channels performing; engagement rate, discussion, interaction with and between fans and followers
  • which social networks and platforms do your customers connect on
  • what is the most effective way of engaging with existing customers and prospecting for the new ones through paid media
  • measure, monitor and manage activities

The more effectively brands develop and manage their paid media, the better the results with their earned and owned media.

How are you defining your social media strategy and measuring results?

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Best practices for mobile marketing with QR codes

Quick Response codes (QR codes) are similar to the barcodes used by retailers to track inventory and price products at te point of sales; the key difference between the two is the amount of data they can hold or share. When you scan a QR code with your camera-enable Smartphone you link to digital content on the web; activate various phone functions including email, IM and SMS and connect the mobile device to a web browser.

This comprehensive article by Angie Schottmuller of Search Engine Watch gives 14 best practices on QR codes for marketers including FREE tools to generate QR codes, management tools to track scanning analytics, relevant content and more.

Strategically QR codes have been used to gain market leadership for businesses as seen in this video of Tesco in South Korea  By strategically using QR codes they solved a daily chore for time poor customers creatively by allowing “the store come to the people” through virtual stores.


  • The number of new registered members rose by 76%
  • Online sales increased 130%
  • Market leader in online market and close 2nd offline

Tesco South Korea [Video]

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2011 Top 3 selling cars: Ford Fiesta, Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa

SMMT released 2011 car registration details today.  According to the figures 2011 new car registrations fell 4.4%, however the 1.94 million units was slightly ahead of the 1.92 million forecast.

2011 Top 3 marques were Ford Fiesta 96,112 units sold, Ford Focus with 81,832 units sold and Vauxhall Corsa 77,751 units sold.

“Last year proved to be a challenging year for the UK motor industry,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT chief executive. “Weak economic growth will make trading conditions tough in 2012, but record numbers of new and updated models, significantly improved fuel efficiency and exciting new technologies will help to encourage consumers into showrooms.”

Whilst it’s evident 2012 will see tougher trading conditions, there are definite opportunities for Dealer Groups to get consumers into their showrooms starting with the online showrooms where their research begins!  Consider your mobile strategy, as we know mobile retail is continuing to grow, according to Comscore datagems 1.7million mobile subscribers consumed automotive content on mobile devices.

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How “Pollinators” change the marketing equation for Land Rover

Martini Media partnered with WPP’s research group, Added Value, to take a closer look at the influencer audience who comprises 25% of the population and is responsible for 70% of the spending online.

This video with an array of panelists includes Land Rover’s Communication Manager Ken Bracht.  Ken highlights the importance of luxury automotive brands reaching niche audiences through targeted marketing and why it is important to target these pollinators as part of their core media plan.  These “hyper influentials” not only become effective brand evanglists but are first in line for big-ticket items.  In the study 68% of Pollinators indicated purchase intent for luxury cars.

Technology is ubiquitous allowing marketers to effectively and effeciently reach their audience.  Brands need to be exploring ways to reach influencer audiences in social communities to improve engagement, brand awareness and lower cost per lead.  You can see how effective and measurable this channel can be for new vehicle launches.

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