What can agencies learn from REAL people?

* This is a guest blog  from Roger Warner, Managing Director of social media agency C&M

Advertising legend Bill Bernbach and footballing philosophy legend Socrates figured out that there’s a lot of value to be had in asking real people real questions.

We’ve been doing quite a lot of it lately at C&M via our consumer panel research and – just as importantly – asking searching questions of people on the street.

Top of the polling pops is the question ‘do you really give a crap about following brands on Facebook and Twitter?’  We like to ask this question because not a lot of brands do.

The findings are interesting.  The big surprise is that *normal* people really do want to connect with brands, share information about them and be their advocates on Social.  (I say normal people, not just us marketing wonks – we always get over-excited by this stuff.)

Our consumer panel research tells us that more than half of (normal) people want to follow brands on Social to get news, belong to like-minded communities and get access to deals and offers.

Around 60% of these folks are happy to share their brand information with their friends and the majority want to do so because they feel it increases the social value that their friends feel for them. This notion of ‘social capital’ and a behavioral understanding of why people want to engage is key.

Most people want to engage with brands for positive reasons, not to complain. This fact gets rid of one of the biggest barriers to getting involved with Social to date. Brands are welcome – so they can feel happy about joining in, rather than starting off with a siege mentality.

The other simple thing that should be studied more and better understood is why people use social media in the first place. Simple (empirical) research will tell you that people don’t use Facebook to engage with brands. They use it to connect with people.  (Ask yourself that question, please.)

Most marketers think about and use Facebook solely to connect people to brands. Their interests (and expectations) are wildly at odds with their audiences.  This needs to change.

Simple questions tend to get you some big answers.  We should all ask more of them.  To my mind, when it comes to doing amazing work on social media, Pinterest isn’t the next big thing… the next big thing is thinking like a real person.

It’s the single biggest change a brand can make today to enjoy more social media success. We need to be more gonzo. Get inside our customers’ heads, understand how they are using Social to communicate with one another and start building programs that match their brief, not ours.

Roger Warner (1 Posts)