According to a 2012 Nielsen global study, 92 per cent of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising, Aussies even believe suggestions from total strangers at a party or a social setting. This was the big topic of conversation during ‘Marketing Without Money, Word of Mouth Marketing’ panel at Ad:Tech conference in Sydney.
The four panelists: Heath Walker, head of marketing and communications at Tesla Motors Australia, Aj Tills, community engagement lead at Uber, Kelly Godfrey, senior director, Australia & New Zealand at Ancestry.com and Jules Lund, founder of TRIBE / TV & radio host discussed the power of social media, with a focus on the power of social media influencers and word of mouth.
Tills said Uber’s social media strategy is focused on creating a ‘viral loop’. “I really believe that there is a need for paid advocacy mainly though communicating and talking through channels, and also gaining trust through association. But ultimately our goal is for pure advocacy people speaking because they want to.
“It’s about creating the conversation. For us we talk about incentivising, engaging, surprising and delight. We’ll create a viral loop, Uber is a referral based platform that allows people to get a discount by incentivising a new rider, we’ve partnered with business and brands to create an experience-across Australia in the past months we’ve delivered kittens, puppies, helicopters.”
Tesla, a California-based automotive company that designs and manufactures electric vehicles as well as renewable energy storage, it’s vital to make the customer feel they are a part of the journey.
“Tesla is unique because we don’t do any paid advertising or digital advertising,” Walker said.
“Tesla is about about listening first and then crafting that story, so they feel like they’re a part of the brand moving forward so sharing their stories and their advocacy and amplifying that out. From a protection point of view, it comes down to always doing the best you can do as a brand. If you can continue to listen to the feedback, even from the detractors, you can convert those people who were once against you to bring them on board.”
Ancestry.com has an lucky position where its content is immediately shareable. “We have an enviable brand which is all about stories, and stories are what people really want to share. People are really passionate about it and love to talk about it,” Godfrey said.
Despite being automatically shareable with a passionate following, Ancestory.com learnt the hard way that social media followers need to be regularly updated or they will turn against you.
“We recently launched a new look Ancestory which upset a lot of our core enthusiasts subscribers who pay money every month to access the images on the site so they feel ownership to it, so when you redesign the website without bringing them into the loop you get a very heated section of your subscriber base.
“That’s now the way you have to do it, regular updates with customers every week…constantly making people feel like they’re part of that process, it’s their websites.”
On the other side of the coin, Lund has launched a company TRIBE which connects social media influencers to brands for paid advocacy. Lund believes the company has flipped pay-for-post model, which increases transparency for paid word of mouth.
“We’ve flipped the model to protect authenticity, the most important thing is we don’t allow brands to choose our influencers. We have brands put up their brief and influencers if they use that product or service they can select to reach out. It minimises the temptation of an a brand asking a influencer ‘hey for $500 can you post on this?’
“Secondly we don’t give out any product, so influencers say ‘hang on a sec i usually get a product’ and it’s like if you don’t own it and you’re not willing to go out and buy it then how can you recommend it?”