Category brand advocacy

Lessons Learned From the Telephone Game

Some of the most important lessons that we learn in life are taught to us early on.

For example, I’m sure that most of you can remember playing the game Chinese whispers, or as it is commonly called in the United States, the “Telephone” game.

In the game, a message is given to the first person in a line of people and then they are instructed to pass the message on by whispering it in the ear of the next person in line. The message goes from person to person until it reaches the end of the line, and that person announces the message to the group. In most cases, the message that is announced to the group is significantly different from the message that was originally given to the first person in the line.

While the game is amusing, it also teaches us an important lesson that people often forget.

The lesson, as you probably have already figured out, is that information that you receive via word of mouth is not always accurate. In fact, if you don’t receive information directly from the source, there is a good chance that at least part of the message is incorrect.

Telephone Game 2.0

The Telephone game illustrates how quickly a message can be altered even when passed from person to person in a relatively short line.

In the real world word, the Telephone game often goes by a different name: Gossip.

As people relay a message from one person to another, the message often gets distorted, sometimes so much so that the intent of the original message is completely lost. What is left is an inaccurate statement that could actually do harm to the reputation of the person or business that is being talked about.

The tools that are available to people today (e.g., cell phones, text messages, social networking sites, email, etc.) only complicate the issue. These tools make it even easier for a rumor to spread at an alarming rate, particularly if the person who is being talked about is a celebrity.

Personal Responsibility

Deep down, we all know that the information that we hear about via word of mouth, whether it be online or offline, often contains misinformation. And, yet, people still choose to share it. In fact, for some people, gossiping is their primary form of entertainment.

What we all need to remember is that what we say can have a negative impact on the person who we are talking about.

Business Implications

People aren’t the only victims of gossip. In fact, businesses are often the subject of conversations on the Internet. If the rumors take a turn for the worse, it can have a very negative impact on the business’s reputation.

For that reason, businesses need to monitor what people are saying about their products or services online. This will allow them to highlight the positive things and address and correct the potentially damaging negative information that is being spread online.

If you are looking for specific examples of how businesses have handled these types of situations, you might want to take the time to watch Paula Berg’s (@paulaberg) presentation in the HubSpot Inbound Marketing Certification Program. In her presentation, Ms. Berg gives examples of how Southwest Airlines used the Internet to their advantage when potentially damaging rumors about the company started to spread, both online and offline.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember the lessons that we learned from the Telephone game early on in life.

For example, the Telephone game reminds us just how quickly a message can be changed into something completely different when it is passed between even a few people.

It is therefore important to remember that the things that we learn about via the rumor mill can, and often do, include incorrect information.

On a personal level, we need to be mindful of what information we spread, given the fact that what we say can have a negative impact on the individual or business that we are talking about.

From a business standpoint, it is necessary for businesses to monitor what is being said about their products and services online, if for no other reason than to correct the misinformation that is being spread.

As I have mentioned in other posts, words have power. In some cases, what is being said about a business can have a negative effect on the business’s reputation and ultimately, its bottom line.

Photo credit: Hans_van_Rijnberk on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Sometimes It Pays to Trust Your Gut

Photo credit: eliduke on Flickr.As I mentioned in my last blog post, it is important that organizations measure the success of all of their marketing efforts.

In most cases, measurement is required to justify the costs associated with each marketing campaign.

Furthermore, when you monitor the results of each campaign on an ongoing basis, you give yourself the required information to make adjustments midstream. This will allow you to add more resources to your more profitable campaigns, and eliminate the ones that are underperforming.

Hopefully, this will also prevent you from having to scramble to meet your monthly, quarterly or yearly goals at the last minute.

The Counterpoint

The reasons for continually monitoring your marketing campaigns are very clear.

However, the proper actions to take as a result of what the metrics are telling you are not so obvious.

The problem is, there may be some residual benefits of your marketing efforts that are not so easily measured.

For example, as I pointed out in a blog post, titled “The Hidden ROI of Social Media Marketing,” when you add social media into your marketing mix, you might not be getting the desired short-term increases in sales. However, your social media efforts might help decrease expenses, put out fires or have a positive effect on where your brand appears on a search engine results page. All of these can have a positive effect on your bottom line.

There is also the chance that while you might not be reaching a lot of consumers with your marketing efforts, you might be reaching the right consumers.

In other words, you might be reaching the key influencers who have the ability to spread the news about how great your product is and, in the process, persuade others to buy it, instead of purchasing your competitors’ products.

In his book, “CRUSH IT! Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion,” (affiliate link) Gary Vaynerchuk gives a perfect hypothetical example of how this might happen.

“What if your analytics tell you that you’ve only had seven views on Break.com in two months?” writes Vaynerchuk. “Are you going to stop posting to that platform? The data are telling you that you should probably drop it, but what you don’t know is that one of those seven viewers is a producer for The Today Show. There’s no reason to think that can’t happen.”

In Vaynerchuk’s example, if you stop posting to Break.com, you might be cutting off your only line of communication to a person with the power to spread your message all over the world.

There is a chance that the hypothetical producer for The Today Show would like your content so much that he or she would seek you out on other platforms.

However, he or she might not.

Are you willing to take that risk?

Conclusion

As I have said before, it is very important to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.

However, the actions that you should take as a result of what the metrics are telling you are not so cut and dried.

As a previous blog post alluded to, it is very possible that you might not be measuring the right things.

And, as Gary Vaynerchuk points out in his book, it is also possible that you might not be able to measure the true reach or effectiveness of your marketing campaign, if you are reaching a key influencer who is willing to become a brand advocate and spread your message to a wider audience.

This points to the fact that while the metrics may be telling you to do one thing, the correct response might be to gamble and do the opposite.

In the end, it might be prudent to trust your gut.

Photo credit: eliduke on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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Educating Employees About Brand Advocacy

Photo credit: wovox on Flickr.Word-of-mouth advertising is talked about a lot these days, thanks in part to the increased connectivity that Web 2.0 has given us in recent years.

It is not surprising, then, that brands all over the world have put an increased focus on providing the best customer service possible, in an effort to transform customers into brand advocates.

However, some of the best potential brand advocates walk through the front door every day, but are often overlooked. That’s right; I’m talking about the brand’s employees.

Brand Advocate Defined

As mentioned in the post, titled “10 Definitions of a “Brand Advocate”,” on blog.zuberance.com, people have slightly different ways of defining a brand advocate.

For the purpose of this post, I am going to use the definition given by Sarah Essary, Senior Account Executive at Edelman Digital, and blogger at consumingpr.com. In the blog.zuberance.com post, Sarah is quoted as saying, “I would say a brand advocate is willing to speak positive about a brand without much or any direct incentive.”

Employees as Brand Advocates

The brand’s employees (should) know the brand’s products and services better than anyone else.

They also interact with the brand’s customers all the time. In fact, they often serve as representatives of the brand.

So, who better to serve the role of brand advocate?

Keep in mind, I’m not talking about the interactions that employees have with customers while they are being compensated by the brand.

I’m talking about what the brand’s employees say about the brand in their lives outside of work.

The Human Factor

Remember, employees are people, too. They have access to the same online tools. They talk to people outside of work, just like everyone else.

If they are singing the praises of the brand, that is some of the best publicity that the brand can receive.

On the other hand, if a brand’s employees don’t think highly of the brand and let other people know about it, it could cast serious doubt about the quality of the brand’s products and services in the minds of its customers and potential customers.

After all, employees should be in the know about the brand’s products and services, right?

Conclusion

Considering the fact that employees have first-hand knowledge about the brand’s products and services, there is a good chance that what they say about the brand will have at least some influence on the purchase decisions of the people who they interact with.

Therefore, it is important that employees are given the information needed to effectively communicate the brand promise to others.

Furthermore, all employees should be trained to understand the importance of word-of-mouth advertising. And, when I say all employees, I mean all employees, from the CEO to the college interns.

What they say “off the clock” can potentially have an effect on the brand’s bottom line. This is particularly true when employees have public conversations online.

I’m not saying that brands should censor what their employees can say outside of work. What I am suggesting, though, is making their employees aware that what they say about the brand does make a difference.

On a side note, it also doesn’t hurt to make sure that the brand is providing a healthy work environment for its employees.

If employees are happy with their jobs and are proud to work for the brand, they will be more likely to tout the greatness of the brand. And, that, after all, is what being a brand advocate is all about.

Photo credit: wovox on Flickr.

Chad Thiele

Marketing analyst and strategist, content curator, applied sociologist, proud UW-Madison alumnus, and an Auburn-trained mobile marketer. My goal is to help businesses identify trends that will help them achieve their marketing objectives and business goals. I'm currently looking for my next career challenge. Please feel free to contact me anytime at: chadjthiele@gmail.com.

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