Three Social Marketing Themes from This Year’s WOMMA Brand Summit
The Word of Mouth Marketing Association’s annual WOMMA Summit (this year in honky-tonk Nashville) is a great opportunity for marketers to exchange ideas and best practices with regards to social media and WOM marketing. Among the case studies, keynotes and networking hours, resounding trends often surface that both address the current landscape, as well as what to expect in the year to come. Here are the talking points that we thought rose above the rest.
1. Worlds Colliding! Online Lives Converge and Brands Must Adapt.
Consumers are taking notice that their personal, professional and consumer lives are rapidly colliding across their social networks. This means that in social media, your brand’s competition level rises. As Jay Baer stated in his opening keynote “you’re not just competing against other companies that sell a similar product, you’re competing against everything and everyone.” How exactly does your brand stand out from the photos of your cousin’s new baby, your co-worker’s wedding or the mildly concerning photos of you from last weekend? Baer urged marketers to provide “Youtility” –brands should make their marketing so useful that people would pay for it. It’s about understanding customer needs and delivering something so relevant that it stands above the messages they are bombarded with on every channel.
As our online lives continue to converge, trust is the only factor that will guide us in making decisions. WOMM Author Mark Earl’s keynote session discussed how we make choices as consumers. Earl stated that as much as humans like to believe they act and think independently, the reality is that we “outsource” our thinking to other people, clearly demonstrated by the fact that the most reliable predictor of individual behavior is the behavior of others. This message reiterates that people are the biggest asset brands have in affecting consumer behavior. As Earl puts it, “how marketing actually works: I’ll have what you’re having.”
2. Real Time Marketing. Can You Keep Up?
“RTM” was not only the sole topic of many breakout sessions and panels, but was mentioned in some form at virtually all sessions. Real time marketing is no longer about being the breakout star during a Superbowl Blackout. It is becoming a very real expectation for marketers, with many brands often building “war rooms” during large public events in order to execute and capitalize on breaking news.
This topic often begs debate around quantity versus quality, and being first versus being right. When does real time marketing go beyond creating quick and witty content to shamelessly riding on the coat tails of any major event? SmartCar and Razorfish’s session, Activating Advocates with Social Friendly Content & Real Time Marketing, demonstrated a different facet of real time marketing – using the content created by consumers to fuel brand actions. This was showcased in their infamous “poop tweet” when they took a product stab on twitter and turned it into a creative infograph that garnered not only social sharing, but also captured attention from various media outlets.
A session from PopTart’s Senior Brand Manager insisted marketers adopt “plandom” – when brands can plan content that appears random. Additionally, PopTarts stated that “when considering real time marketing, there’s a difference between reacting to the news of the day, versus being the news of the day,” and presented the use of this with their #Crazygoodsummer yearly concert event that prompts not only brand awareness and advocacy, but also echoes Baer’s point “is so useful, that people would pay for it.”
3. The People Business.
Geno Church, lead strategist and WOM Cupid at Brains on Fire, stated in his keynote that often times marketers fall prey to “check the box marketing” – going through the motions and not truly understanding what social media is to a consumer. What motivates us as consumers to share and consume messages often depends on the functional, social and emotional elements that are incorporated.
This means that brands that provoke these elements will garner reaction and conversation from consumers. As Church puts it “passion is not something you own, it’s something that you pass on.” With all the dashboards, listening tools, APIs, etc. we have available, it’s important to always take a step back and remind ourselves we are in the people business.
When it comes to brands instigating sharing among their influential advocates, Verizon Wireless’s session The Power of Lifestyle Influencers, reiterated Church’s thoughts by insisting brands should avoid the “pay to play” influencer strategy and focus on providing inherent rewards like access, privilege, recognition and community to spark sharing and stories across social media.
Next year’s summit will no doubt leave new themes to noodle on, but this year’s was enough to keep us on our toes. One thing we know rings true: influencer, word of mouth and social marketing are not leaving anytime soon. Undoubtedly, it will continue to capture attention from marketers looking for ways to influence consumer behavior beyond traditional channels.