The Awesome Power of Customer Reviews

We’ve all asked for the opinion of a friend or family member when we’re either looking for something or are about to buy something. It’s just human nature to want to get support on our decision or be offered an alternative when we’re about to make a mistake.

When it comes to online, we do the same but a lot of us, 93% in fact, rely on online reviews as they impact our purchasing decision. Therefore, so many businesses have implemented review abilities on their website and the individual products they sell.

But what happens when the system is manipulated, either intentionally or unintentionally? And with the rise of fake reviews all over the internet is the once ‘King of Social Proof’ on the verge of losing its crown?

 

Why Reviews are so Powerful

Customer reviews are a double-sided coin for a business. In the eyes of the customer, they create credibility and offer social proof whilst allowing them to have a voice, share their experience and help create loyalty.

For the business, it gives you valuable insight into the overall experience you’re offering from being found to a delivery arriving. With this, you can find areas that might not otherwise be seen that can be improved. Your marketing efforts are massively improved because as we mentioned before, people rely on reviews and if they’re highlighted in the right way, they could improve conversion and improve search rankings.

 

The Darker Side of Customer Reviews

But as much as they can help, if something seems a little off, customers are going to pick up on it.

Any kind of manipulation of reviews is going to stand out like a sore thumb. Censorship of reviews and the purchasing of fake reviews are unethical as a starting point, but they raise concerns for those looking at them. The fake reviews situation for Amazon has become such an issue that they're now taking legal action against fake review brokers to be able to protect their customers.

95% of consumers suspect censorship or faked reviews when they don’t see bad scores and 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews.

Understandably, a business does not want to have pages and pages of bad reviews but hiding them is not going to fix the problem. Each one should be looked at as a learning experience and be used to make business improvements. They’re also an opportunity to address the concerns of your customers openly and transparently. Simply sticking them in a metaphorical box marked ‘ignore’ just creates more of the same. If you ignore the concerns of those customers, you’ll either never get another purchase or their voices will just get louder.

 

Infographic by- Invesp Conversion Rate Optimization

 

How do you avoid falling into these traps?

There are a few ways that you can do this.

 

  • Publish any genuine review - good, or bad.

34% of consumers have said that their low product ratings have not been published by eCommerce sites. You don’t want to be one of those sites doing this.

 

  • Respond to those reviews that need your input

Inevitably, things will not go right every single time. Don’t ignore the bad or less than perfect reviews. Reach out and use them as an opportunity to turn things around. Try to keep as much of the resolution in the open so that others can see what you have done to resolve it, but don’t get into arguments in the reviews section with customers. Remember they’re not a personal attack on you, they are in most cases an outlet for frustration and a request for resolution. Take it as an opportunity to create a new customer experience that blows their expectations and creates a loyal customer in the future.

 

  • Don’t purchase fake reviews.

This feels like it goes without saying but it is happening. 82% of consumers have read a fake review in the last year and 62% of consumers have experienced significant variations between online reviews and actual products received. It is a false economy and the long-term brand damage is hard to fix.

The purchasing of fake reviews takes many forms and however, it is attempted it doesn’t work. Even things like incentivising customers to leave positive reviews with the promise of winning something or getting something in return falls into this category.

 

  • Restrict reviews to only be submitted from verified purchases.

Again, this sounds like a bit of common sense but many places are not putting this into action. By using reviews from people who bought the product from you, it builds credibility for the reader. They know that the person went through the journey with you and received what it is they bought.

 

  • Use a trusted Third Party to validate the reviews and add their credibility.

As much as a person is looking for product reviews on the website itself, using a third party like Trustpilot can add weight. They’re seen as an independent outlier with nothing to gain by manipulating your review scores.

If people have doubts, they often google your business name followed by reviews. This drives them to places like Trustpilot where if you’ve been ignoring bad reviews or soliciting unauthorised good reviews it comes to light.

We as a business use Clutch. All reviews must be submitted with LinkedIn authorisation and the team at Clutch authenticate each review before publishing. Sure, we have testimonials on the website but using Clutch helps support the claims we’re making.

 

  • Extend the types of reviews you’re getting

Getting customers to support reviews with images or videos adds another layer of authenticity. It is an extra step in the process that fake reviewers are unlikely to take and if you’re selling things like clothing or furniture and don’t offer a visual commerce option in the shopping experience, it reassures people that what they think they’re buying, they’re buying.

 

Summing it all up

Customer reviews are great for your business and can have a serious impact on the number of people who choose to buy from you. And with the number of new eCommerce stores on the rise, they can be the difference when things like price and delivery options are all the same.

But you need to play the game fairly. Be open and honest with the feedback and learn from it where you can whilst keeping as much as the problem solving out in the open. We’re not suggesting you air all the dirty laundry but always responding with ‘DM us or send us an email’ offers little reassurance that the issue was ever resolved beyond moving it to another channel, simply to be ignored there.

And the final word is that if you’re asking people to leave their opinion after taking an action, be prepared that not everything is going to be a gold star glowing response. Regardless of how hard you may have worked or how much effort was put into the interaction, we all have different expectations and you’re essentially competing with their last incredible customer experience.


15 Minutes With Luke Frake | Podcast Episode #8

In our eighth episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Luke Frake. Luke is the Experimentation Lead - User Growth at Spotify.

Luke's interests are in the field of optimisation and experimentation, which are becoming more and more recognised within mainstream digital commerce as vital to any long term experience strategy. As part of the User Research Team at Spotify, Luke is involved in optimising digital experience for Spotify users.

In this episode we talk through the challenges faced when a scientific mindset is applied into a business setting, valuing 'failures' as learnings and understanding that in some cases, the failures are more valuable than the successes.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:14

On today's episode of 15 minutes with, we have experimentation and user growth lead at Spotify, Luke Frake joining us. Luke's interests are in the field of optimization and experimentation, which are becoming more and more recognised within mainstream digital commerce as vital to any long term experience strategy. As part of the user research team at Spotify, Luke is involved in optimising digital experience for Spotify users. Luke talks through some of the challenges that come from operating in an emerging field as well as how applying a scientific mindset allows us to value failures as learnings. In fact, it would seem the businesses can actually learn more from their experimentation failures than their successes.

Shelley  00:52

Luke, welcome.

Luke Frake  00:53

Hi. Hi, Shelley. Nice to chat with you. I'm good. Thank you. How are you?

Shelley  00:58

Fabulous, so good to have you. We wanted to get straight into it and ask you, what does good experimentation culture look like?

01:06

I think there's quite a few different ways that you can summarise good experimentation culture, I think there's like a few different points that you can consider when looking at different companies and looking around. I mean, firstly, like, how data driven as a company, are they making their decisions, because somebody in some C suite office is saying that this is what they should do? Are they making decisions backed by measurable data, you know, user research, analytic data, anything like that? I think that's one of like the key ones that comes up first, I think people are encouraged to kind of think outside of the box, you know, people enabled to fail, make mistakes and try different things that kind of goes against the curve, what metric people are using? And like how, how are they measuring success in different areas of the business? Big one, I think, is democracy within experimentation culture, as well. So how are people allowed throughout the business to make these decisions that decisions and to make these mistakes? Are people C level making all of the experiment ideas? Or is it coming down to kind of every junior analyst and eveyone else around the company able to do these things? Continuing on - What happens with like results from experiments? And how do people perceive these sorts of things? I think there's like a huge list of like how people can consider and how people can think about these different like bits and pieces. It's a big one, it's a big question to unpack for sure.

Shelley  02:20

Absolutely, we could easily spend the entire episode talking about just that. In your experience, is that a utopian picture? Or is it achievable for businesses?

Luke Frake  02:30

Absolutely, I think it's completely achievable. I think it's very hard to change, though, that'd be my my crux of it. I think when you speak to companies that that do not have a good experimentation, culture don't have, you know, have fear of failure built in within the company, and how kind of top down decisions and don't look at data, I think it's very, very hard to change, you know, purely by the fact that if you have a top down culture, the top is deciding what's happening. If the top doesn't want to change, it becomes very difficult, but it's definitely possible. I mean, you know, I've worked with so many different companies and variety, like varying degrees at this scale of good culture and bad culture, if you'd like, quote unquote. But but it's definitely there are companies that are absolutely smashing this I mean, look at like Spotify, I think is a great company. But I think looking outwards, you know, booking.com, and companies like this, where they really are just churning out experiments, churning out learnings, but also making different from these learnings as well.

Graham  03:27

And would you suggest that, if a company wanted to do this, they start small? And if they're going to start small, where do they start? Because you could go, You know what, let's just both feet in and see what happens. But I guess with that, there's a risk that you'll try once fail, and never go back. Whereas if you start small, you can kind of build to a crescendo, per se.

Luke Frake  03:50

Yeah I think when it comes to running experiments, starting small is one thing, and I think it's important, but I think you touched on a really good point, then it's like, what is the outcome of these experiments? And how do people perceive that and that that is a fundamental part. And I think that's something that's hard to start small. I think that has to be kind of educated in all directions of a company. And what I mean by that is the, you know, the most successful experiments don't always come from the biggest uplift in a metric or something, an experiment that fails its hypothesis, you know, we think we think a is going to happen, but actually it doesn't. And this happens instead, that's, that's a learning. And that's what's important. That's the important crux of experimentation, you're learning. I love when one of my experiments increases a metric  by 15%. And that's a huge win. And I give myself a pat on the back for that sort of thing. But at the end of the day, that's probably built on 20 other experiments that have decreased a metric that's built and 20 other learnings that have come from somewhere completely different that enabled us to get to that point, where do we get that huge win? So I think, I think that it's very good to start small in terms of getting people into experimentation, but really understanding that learnings and knowledge is what you've gained from experimentation rather than dollars. That's not the initial outcome at least.

Graham  05:06

What advice would you have for a business where experimental culture isn't part of what they do, but they're engaging with an agency or an external business that has that as part of the way they do things? And they potentially have two different versions of what success looks like. Ultimately, you would want to bring the company that doesn't have it closer to the company that does that. Is there sort of, you know, any advice on how to bring those two people closer together faster?

Luke Frake  05:37

Yeah, I think it's the same. If you have, there's two situations that are they're really the same here, you either have a company that doesn't have a culture of experimentation, you have a say, an agency that do or at the same time, you can have a company that doesn't have a culture, and you can have an internal CRO team that do. And that,  that's something I've seen all sorts of different places, throughout my time. And it that is the bit that's hard, that's very hard to do, being being the small trying to change the big in these situations is very hard to do. But it definitely can be done. And I think one of the one of the techniques that I would say is really good for this is trying to get some common ground trying to get some commonality, really try to, you know, as the experimentation side, really trying to understand what are the goals and key metrics that the rest of the business, the rest of this company, whatever it is, are really trying to achieve? And how can we explain how experimentation can help us get there. So for instance, if you've got say, you know, say some engineering team that might necessarily not want to run experiments, they think it's a waste of product time explaining how small iterative experiments can actually help them do more more work in the long run, because what they deploy will be more valuable. If you've got a, I don't know, a marketing team who are really focused on their average order value, explaining how using experimentation and failing a few times can help kind of increase that. And therefore it will, it will make all of their metrics at the top of the funnel look much better. So I think that that's something that I've seen people fall into traps with before is always explaining experimentation is like number of experiments running. And not necessarily talking that kind of common language, that, that that piece of truth, if you'd like that everybody can kind of get on board with and agree with.

Shelley  07:18

From your experience, then it's, it's about the process. And by the sounds of it, it's also to do with context. So you can zoom in as close as you like to one particular experiment. And if that fails, it can essentially freak people out, right? Particularly if you don't have data to back it up, or you know, it doesn't, you don't have the learnings that you can apply, necessarily. But actually, if you step back and zoom out and appreciate the fact that that's part of this huge, huge context of all these other tests that are running these experiments that are running that are actually supporting, you know, a much, much broader end goal, then that's kind of the perspective that you're getting at. But I suppose from the from the angle of being data driven, you know, to try and influence leadership to change that culture. How do you do that? You know, when it's such a such a complex ecosystem?

Luke Frake  08:12

Yeah, I think, I think that's the hard bit because like you say, if you focus on a single experiment, as soon as you get your first failure, quote unquote, failure, you're in the position then where people, people don't understand the process, I think what you start to be able to do though, is you start to join up into stories, take that example a second ago, you know, we have a huge weigh in on one experiment, don't tell that story on its own don't signal that one experiment that was hugely successful out, you need to tell the story from the beginning, you need to explain the journey. And we did this, we tried this, and it didn't work. But what that taught us was x y z. So we compounded that on the experiment again, and again and again. And what we had at the end was this huge win. So make sure when you're telling your stories about how you got to this, you know, this, this, when at the end, you include that journey of pains and frustrations along the way, because realistically, that is the journey, that that's what happened. And that's how you start to get people away from this fear of failure, because they understand that nothing, you know, no failure is without learning, and we can move forward and take that into kind of the next and the next and the next and come up with something much better.

Shelley  09:16

Because we tend to understand the research process in an academic setting, you know, we get it and we go, Okay, leave the scientists to it, it's, you know, it's an iterative process, but then applying that mindset, within a business setting. It's sort of like, you know, we're not we're not joining, joining the dots fully. So I think that is such a brilliant explanation to actually say, you know, you need to look at the whole thing and don't even your own, how we present our own successes. We need to be, you know, more honest about it so that people actually understand that we're not undercutting ourselves, it makes perfect sense.

Luke Frake  09:50

Absolutely. I mean, we we so for instance, on our side, we have all of our experiments when they concluded they go into our knowledge base, and that's something that Spotify we share around the entire company everyone can see, that isn't just a pot of winning experiments, that is a pot of experiments that were run successful experiments, inconclusive experiments, failed experiments, because that is the learning. And we really push that as well.

Graham  10:13

So once you've got all the information, how do you get it out into kind of the wider teams on the wider business to get sort of other people excited about what's happening? Because having the information in a single place is one thing, but how do you get people to engage with it?

Luke Frake  10:25

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that's, that's one of the most important parts of a CRO team, or in any kind of experimentation team, but often one of the hardest things to do, or most overlooked things to do. So for us, we, all of our analysis is compiled into some kind of deck. So each experiment has its own deck associated to it. And then that is contains all of the analysis and kind of all the details for that experiment. And then what we'll do after that is, if we, in this example, we have kind of a story of experiments, we might create something that's bigger that contains that whole story. So you can see you can drill down into the snippet into the singular, or you can kind of see the bigger, but having these things is only one part of it, right? If we have 1000 decks for the 1000 plus experiments that people run, then who's reading them and who's looking into them. So there's a few things we'd like to do around that. One is just sharing it as broadly as possible. So using kind of internal communication channels like email, or Slack, or Teams, or Workplace, or anything else that people are using, just to make sure that there's like a constant stream of this information being shared out to people, but also doing more, doing more like in person or virtually in person sessions, where you have people presenting these ideas, and really opening up to the floor of this isn't just me taking these ideas and giving them to you, this should be conversational. Challenge, the outcomes, challenge the questions like let's continue this learning and continue, there's bits and pieces of like, how can we improve, because out of those sessions, then you really start opening people up to there is no one right? That's all continually challenge and ask questions, which gets you back to kind of improving the overall culture and pushing those bits and pieces forward. So I think, trying to play as many channels as possible, but also trying to talk directly to people as well. And getting those outcomes is the best way to kind of disseminate that information.

Shelley  12:10

Well, definitely, I guess people in their different roles, respective roles within a business, they will have a completely different perspective of that business. And so to be able to voice their ideas, their questions and challenge exactly what you've been talking about experimentation, different learnings, is a way to enrich that process and also get them buying in to the whole to the whole process behind it.

Luke Frake  12:35

That's it. And I mean, that part earlier on trying to understand people's metrics, having those conversations opens up to that, because when you can say to somebody, this experiment has reduced the bounce rate of this page, and you can literally have the conversation, somebody can ask, well, what does that do for this metric that I care about, then you can start to explain it, you learn what they're interested in. And you can also explain kind of the joint between the two. So it just helps continue that process of conversation around experimentation, which ultimately leads to a better culture internally for experimentation to so I think it's very cyclical.

Shelley  13:05

Absolutely. And a better culture overall, when people are collaborating, communicating. So surely, that's part of how you also get senior leadership excited about this process as well.

Luke Frake  13:15

Exactly. Yeah, spot on.

Shelley  13:16

Luke, thank you so so much of your time, is there anything else in terms of tips and insights that you think people listening might be able to apply?

Luke Frake  13:25

I think I hope the main thing that people take from this is to is to communicate too many times that I go into different companies like when I when I was working within the agency, or when I'm working in companies and different teams aren't communicating. So I really hope the one main thing people take from this is talk to other teams, don't don't be that standalone silo, talk to your agency, talk to the team in your business, whatever it is, understand what people are thinking and how these different bits and pieces work and how they can come together to be something better than the sum. That's that's my main takeaway.

Graham  13:55

And that's good advice overall. So to be honest, outside of experimentation, we encourage everybody to talk to each other because it's, it's always those things that come up in surveys when you know, people ask about business satisfaction and employee engagement. Communication is always the thing that comes up is something that needs work on so yeah, we'll take that. Thank you.

Luke Frake  14:17

Most welcome. Yeah, most most welcome,

Shelley  14:19

Luke. It has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for your time today, I know that this is going to be an episode that people can really really learn from. It may be a case of I imagine there will be loads of questions off the back of it. So I'm sure we'll get you back for a follow up episode at some point in the near future.

Luke Frake  14:37

Awesome. Lovely speaking to you, Graham and Shelley, thank you so much for your time. We really enjoyed it. Thank you.

Graham  14:41

That was experimentation and user growth lead at Spotify, Luke Frake. By shifting our mindset and not looking at experimental failures as failures, but more as learnings and then sharing them with the wider business in an open discussion, we're able to fully utilise the benefits of experimentation within our business. And remember, communication is everything. Thank you for joining us for this episode of 15 minutes with we look forward to having you along for the next one.


15 Minutes With Ged Zalys | Podcast Episode #7

In our seventh episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Ged Zalys. Ged is a Commerce Delivery Lead with Accenture.

Ged has years of experience working within the world of commerce both in Europe and Asia. We talk to him about the rise of Live Commerce and how China is well ahead of the curve and leading the pack in its adoption. We ask him what its potential is for in the western market, what things businesses should consider before attempting it and what a business will need to implement in order to do it correctly.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:13

Today on 15 minutes with we're talking to Ged Zalys from Accenture. Ged has years of experience working both in the European and Asian markets, and we talk to him about live commerce and how China is adopting it. We ask him what its potential is like for the Western market, what things businesses should consider before attempting it, and what businesses need to be able to implement it correctly.

Shelley  00:35

Ged you spent a bit of time in Asia during your time with Accenture, are you able to tell us a little bit about the trends that you are seeing emerging from Asia with respect to social commerce and live commerce.

Ged Zalys  00:46

I think what is happening in Asia, it's a little bit like people do have a perception at least like you know, many that I speak to have a bit of a perception still, that's you know, China is still the posters from Shanghai of the 1940s, you know, is that the big like beautiful buildings with curly roofs as well. But that's really like farthest from from the truth, because right now, it's closer to sci fi movies that we watch, when you're working across Shanghai, or if you even in Beijing, or Hong Kong, as well as the tall high rises, then you can be walking across the city and you will see a flying QR code above your head that has been created with with the drones as well that you can take your phone and scan it and get taken to a website or to download the game or to see some sort of features. So really, the technology is everywhere, you could be sitting in there underground stations and going on a train and instead of looking out the window and seeing just a tunnel, there is a screen that is giving you advertisements or telling some sort of a story as well. So it's very much closer to science fiction than what a normal traditional perception might be. When I think when it comes to a bit more in the in our space in the commerce space. And in social areas. And in live commerce as well, we see businesses taking a completely different take on solving that problem. Like traditionally, in Europe, and in the West, as well, we have a very clear distinction between the video platforms between the commerce platforms and social platforms in China is not really the case, they kind of blur it all together and put it all into one. Which is in turn creates a lot more complexity in order to achieve this successfully. But at the same time, it delivers that unified customer experiences that that customers get. And I see this really like, you know, becoming the predominant example. For example, there is a brewers called Snow beer. And these guys are do they were selling a lot of a lot of beverages before COVID head and I think COVID was a very brilliant example like, you know, how they dealt with and use social commerce and how it helped to accelerate. So in their case, they realise that hold on a second, people are not going into the bars, they're not going, you know, not really socialising, how are we going to sustain our business and let alone improve it, but they actually sold over 400 million extra beverages that they would normally do. And the way they done it, they didn't realise that. But essentially, they got WeChat mini programmes. So this is like, you know, to the to our western audiences. WeChat is pretty much our Facebook, YouTube and other things combined. And they have these little mini programmes that allows businesses to create their own unique representation of them, but yet, you are still within the same ecosystem of WeChat. And they created this mini programme to enable and they called it a nano influencers because they realise when there was a limitation added during the COVID, you could only have 10 people or so meeting together. So all of that regular venues and campaigns that they've done in the past, it was really a little bit out the window. And that's not gonna work and before but hold on a second people are still meeting the meeting in groups of 10. And I think like every single group has got a person that is that, you know, motivate that he organises he or she organises gets people together. And for them, it was very much of like, like, why don't we let these people do it, like, you know, they want to go out, they still want to organise it. So let them you know, be able to choose COVID safe places where they can invite their friends, they can order and pre booked drinks that is like going to be catering for 10 people. So that concept of nano influences commerce, which is was part of the social commerce was invented. And that just became a boom of Snow beer, which was like four Super X brand initiative.

Graham  04:25

So that all sounds amazing, and certainly something that I would love to experience. But how do we pick up kind of what they're doing in Asia and bring it into the West, say the UK into Europe without kind of having to reinvent the entire wheel and use what we already have.

Ged Zalys  04:41

Kind of going to step back a little bit and think about you know, in order to answer this question, I think the reason why it's happening right because like you know why social commerce is happening and how it's applicable for Europe as well that the decision making power has shifted from brands to the consumers. That's the fundamental shift of why social commerce is coming into the picture. And instead of businesses focusing on their objectives now what businesses have to do is start focusing on customer satisfaction. And I think that's one of the fundamental changes that is driving it. And in order for us to get there, and I think like, you know, the other reason being of why that is happening, businesses are starting to look to diversify their revenues. And the reason is that traditional ads no longer really work the same as they used to, especially with all of the GDPR policies being created data privacy regulations as well, that we keep on hearing about and the traditional methods of identifying our customers, making sure that the content is as personalised as it can be, is not as effective as it used to be. That's what we're seeing. But if you are staying within the same platform, oh, and using the social platform, you kind of don't have to deal with that the content is within it, you letting the platform providers disord these areas out for you. And then the way you positioning us like a one step closer, in addition to that, I think customers they behaviour is changing, you know, you have the entire Gen Z'd that is now coming of age and they have a buying power, people are also looking for sustainability and the products that are sustainable. And finally, 87% of consumers in in E commerce shopping, believe the social media help them make shopping decisions, like as I see this personally. And when I speak to friends as well, you know, people complain about ads, but I see many people are like, I wouldn't know what is new out there if I didn't get advertised to and I like personalised ads and like some people are completely okay, that, you know, their data is being used to give them tailored experience as well. So it's 87% of people that actually think that way of the latest statistics. So there is a huge case in order to get to that point. But I think the problems we're trying to solve and like what we need to consider before we get to that is whether we have our business definition in place. What social commerce means to your business really, like in in a sense, it's a new channel, and usually the new channels, they're not adopted as fast as you would, it's not like it doesn't happen overnight. If you started if you always be where brick and mortar becoming digital takes a lot of time. So you have to define what social commerce is giving to your business. I think that's that's the number one step of recognising the importance of it, and then is really the value of case, right. There's like, you know, what opportunity size is there from the social commerce? What's my return of investment, because it's not going to come in like overnight, you have to actually put some funds behind it and let it nurture it and let it grow until that happens to let it grow and being nurtured that is part of your go to market strategy as well. You know, how are you going to change your business model? Where are you going to sell? What exactly are you going to sell in order to activate your social commerce. And then finally, I would say is like another entity that comes in that is most probably is not very intuitive immediately to existing businesses that are not doing social commerce, you have to have partners, you know, you have to have influencers or KOL's (key opinion leaders) in order to promote your brand. And like when it goes back to KOL's, it shows that five times the number of impressions and engagements are generated for every dollar spent on influencer market as compared to pay ads. So when it comes to influencers, it's a fundamental piece to get it right, in order to get that scaling.

Shelley  08:23

Ged that is really, really interesting. I love those stats, because they are key business considerations when it comes to actually getting this started. And like you said, pulling those trends out of what we're seeing in Asia, not having to reinvent the wheel completely, but being able to apply it in other settings like in the UK. So aside from all of those points that you touched on those considerations for getting started, like the business strategy, the plan of where you're actually going to get started with us in terms of platforms, and in terms of influencers? Are there any obvious markets that you think this is really best applied to?

Ged Zalys  08:54

You know, I'm going to be fair with this is like if you're trying if you're thinking of selling something outside of apparel, footwear, beauty jewellery, or CPG in general, right, I don't think it's an area it's a suitable area because think about your audiences and think about like, you know, who is using these platforms and how relevant it will be in your reach as well. So my take on that is if you're in apparel, footwear, beauty, jewellery, or CPG, social commerce is for you otherwise, it still needs some time I guess to mature

Shelley  09:25

So fast moving consumer goods are really where it's at for social commerce and for live commerce, and then just give it some time from there and then most of the other industries and other markets starting to adopt it potentially if it's suitable

Ged Zalys  09:36

Yeah, like, you know, that's that's would be my initial recommendation, because these are tried and tested industries and we seen them flourish when they attempted this approach. Other industries we haven't seen so many success studies, but it doesn't mean that that's not the case. There are three different approaches to this. There is direct you know, where where you actually go into the platform such as Facebook Instagram, right and you start uploading your product and selling it. That's direct. Then there is a affiliates, and affiliates is one I mentioned about the KOL's, they are advertising on your brand, or actually an affiliate unaffiliated selling people just essentially like, you know, shouting and screaming about how great your product is. Then you see this demonstrated really well in Michaud and AliExpress. And then the final one is the community and the community is more of a peer to peer platforms. You can achieve this in Facebook marketplaces that other better examples would be like Groupon or deal share in India. And I really like that there is a use case of KFC where they use the community in order to do the selling. So their approach was very much of a in Chinese customers riot is usually translated almost customer is the boss and KFC was thinking, you know, what if we actually make customer, the boss, so again, they want to WeChat mini programmes and they created an application that allowed you to sell your own chicken. So essentially, it's for you to advertise to your friends, you get a commission and every purchase that is being made is essentially profiting you. So you are becoming almost like a reseller of KFC, but not technically, you know, people would go in back to KFC stores and pick up the chicken are getting delivered that you becoming the kind of an owner of your own store and you reselling it and they created 2.5 million KFC pockets stores in just 120 days. So going back to your initial question of what is the potential of other industries stepping into this day, you know, traditionally we would be thinking so after considering these three approaches, right, there is about some of them such as Facebook, right, where you're uploading your product, and you allowing to see how it's happening, you don't need to spend too much investment into your other technologies to support it. It's kind of like a testing and planning and seeing whether it gets activated and you do A/B testing with this, you see how people are reacting with this, then you have to put like a breaking point that this is go or no go depending on your hypothesis. So you create your usual scientific method, you create a hypothesis of what you want to achieve in the next few months. And you do this trial and error almost run to see how well it's performing on the given platform. And if so, after two months, you should be starting to think about how is this going to integrate into the rest of your ecosystem. If you are new to selling in general, if you been in a brick and mortar store and haven't gone digital maybe that's it said, you just focus on that channel and you grow it. But if you already got an existing digital presence and E commerce store as well, then you might want to start considering how the orders captured are going into your order fulfilment process. So you can scale and utilise the same operations that you have done used in the past from your digital presence and your store now serving the customers that are coming in from the social commerce channel as well. So hopefully this just gives a little bit more context, Shelly? Absolutely. Thank you so much for that, Ged.

Graham  13:01

So you've given us a tonne of information around kind of how to think about this and what you should be considering when you're implementing it. And you know, is it right for your business? Are there any other tips or insights or learnings that you've got for people that really genuinely want to consider social selling as a potential channel for them that kind of as a, you should probably think about this before you start.

Ged Zalys  13:21

I think it's an important one to pick up. It's great when you think about new channels to reach your customers and there's always like, you know, a profit that can be added but at the same time, there is a risk of that it could potentially could start cannibalising your ecommerce website. The traffic from your e commerce website that you have today might be diverted into the social commerce traffic and the core digital experience might differ as well, which is not always the bad thing is like if you keep the customers in the same environment, think about it. Sometimes when you think you forgot something in a different room, and you go back to that room and you forget completely why you came to the room that's almost like you know, that's how human brain works a little bit is that you know, when you change your environment, your brain kind of resets and it's like okay, so something new must be happening and you forget what was the purpose of you to come come in back there. So there is a value of like actually keeping the customers on a single channel instead of like no flipping them back and forth. And then you are building your social audiences and there is a huge value in it. There is a new reach like you know, acquiring new customers is a lot harder than nurturing existing ones. However, social commerce is giving you that ability to reach out to completely new customers where you can continue focusing on nurturing your existing customers and your E commerce and acquire the new customers from your social channels. And I think you know, finally I just want to kind of add on to few more points that people are starting to think in different ways like you know, how it differs from your traditional e commerce websites and your social commerce. People traditionally are used to looking for customer reviews in order to help them make a decision in order to buy it but with social commerce now it's customer reviews and influencer reviews as well, then we go into a different component of product comparisons, right? So people used to just put them side by side and see which one is better. But now with social commerce, you might be actually relying on your friends opinion on what they really think about it.

Shelley  15:17

Ged, thank you so much for your time today. All of the insights from what you've seen firsthand all the way through to what you would recommend for businesses and ultimately for the end user when it comes to social and live Commerce. Thank you so so much.

Ged Zalys  15:30

Thank you guys. It was really lovely being here. I hope that helps.

Graham  15:33

 Thanks. Yeah. And we look forward to having you on again in the future.  That was Ged Zalys from Accenture. Social Commerce opens you up to new audiences in channels where they love to spend more of their time. And when using in conjunction with influencers and key opinion leaders makes discovery of your products easier. It may not yet be for everyone. But for those that can, it's a new channel that when well considered and implemented can drive engagement and meet the changing needs of customers. Thank you for joining us for this episode of 15 Minutes With we look forward to having you along on our next one.


15 Minutes With Lucy Hall | Podcast Episode #6

In our sixth episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Lucy Hall. Lucy is a Lead Trainer with Meta and the founder of the hugely influential Digital Women Community.

Lucy's interests are in the social space with a particular interest on training events and community building. Lucy is also the founder of a number of industry events, conferences and awards.

Lucy shares her knowledge on helping others to navigate the social selling sphere on a regular basis. Her experience in delivering curriculums and appealing to users to come together to find a social voice is second to none.

On the episode, Lucy shares her knowledge and offers tips, insights and advice on community building and community management.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Shelley  00:13

Today lead trainer at Meta, Lucy Hall is joining us on 15 minutes with. Lucy's interests are in the social space with a particular interest on training events and community building. Lucy is also the founder of a number of industry events, conferences and awards, and she is the founder of the hugely influential Digital Women community. Lucy shares her knowledge on helping others to navigate the social selling sphere on a regular basis. Her experience in delivering curriculums and appealing to users to come together to find a social voice is second to none.  Lucy Hi, Welcome.

Lucy Hall  00:53

Hi, Shelly. Thanks for having me.

Shelley  00:55

What I wanted to ask was how through your training experience, you have found that communities have an appetite for connection online?

Lucy Hall  01:03

I think people have always had an appetite for connection. And people have always had an appetite for community, because communities are the things that binds people together through mutual interests or problems that they have. And through the training that I've done, I've been able to reach out to lots of different audiences by training them, because essentially, I'm able to train people on digital skills for free through the Meta programme as a lead trainer. And I found that people are really happy to go on that training and learning journey together. So the communities that I run are people who have a big appetite for digital skills, but also connection as well. So together, it means that they're able to learn and then talk to each other about what they've learned and share skills with each other. So when they learn something, or they know something, they're able to share their experiences. I think through the pandemic, it highlighted even more how much people will need that connection. And we had a big explosion of online communities, even bigger than we already had. And you can even see that Meta was increasing its communities programme as well. So they were really putting a lot of importance into communities. Because there was already some great growth through groups, which are to different Facebook pages, because you're just, you know, advertising to an audience. I think the appetite for online connection is absolutely huge. And it's growing every single day.

Shelley  02:25

What I really what I find really, really interesting about that is how you say these communities often have quite a few interests in common. Could you tell us a little bit about how communities differ to audiences, when it comes to brands?

Lucy Hall  02:39

I think there's a big misconception about building a community, because people think when you have lots of followers on social media, it means that you then have a community. But that's absolutely not true. A community is something completely different. And audience is people who are watching you following you. And they want to know what you're up to and what you're doing. And a community is a group of people that are connected together by like I was saying before, when your first question by a common interest, or a common problem. And so therefore, they are able to connect and talk to each other in a different way that feels more natural and not very forced. The person who started the committee doesn't always have to be there when you have a community because people talk to each other because they're interested in the same thing. Whereas with an audience is a little bit more difficult to get that going. You can build communities that have audiences, because they may be interested in the same thing. But of course, two completely different things.

Shelley  03:31

And so people can come and go, and they can move in and out of communities, where audiences, it's sort of presumed that once you lose someone, you kind of lose them to a competitor, so to speak. But in a community, that particular community might only serve a certain short period of time for that person's experience. So it might be for example, a new mothers group, it's expected that you're only going to be part of that group for a period of time. And you might tap into that community again, in the future if you have another child. But it's not going to be a lifelong membership.

Lucy Hall  03:59

Yeah, absolutely. I think essentially, we're all part of lots of different communities. If you think about how many different communities you're part of a different parts of your life might be that you're part of a community, that's for local residents in your area like Canterbury for example. Or you might be part of a community where you have an interest in sewing. And it just means that you can talk about those interests with other people who are interested in the same thing. And you're not necessarily waiting for the community leader to say something or the brand to say something, you're actually just talking amongst yourselves. Of course, the community leader is always there to ask questions and stoke the fire, if you like, to get people chatting with each other. If you're a brand trying to build a community, you would think about what's the common thing that binds all of these people together? What is the thing they're really interested in and people like Red Bull do it really, really well, if you think about it. Because Red Bull have this brand where it's all about sport and energy and excitement and then they create these events around that. And as part of that they have this amazing community.

Graham  04:58

That's an interesting topic actually, because Red Bull a few years ago completely changed their marketing model away from selling product to selling experience.

Lucy Hall  05:06

Yeah.

Graham  05:06

And it's about producing content that people can engage with and like you say, putting up these events and setting them up, and I guess is a brand going to have more success if they approach a community in that way, rather than approaching the community and kind of slapping up a billboard and going, Hey, by the way, we have a whole bunch of products that we think might be appropriate, and we want to sell them to you kind of like they do with an audience, is it better for a brand to invest in how do we support the community so that an association is created between the support was given to us by X, and as a result, we are more likely to support them because of the good that they've done for us, rather than a brand turning up and going, we'll send you samples, because we just want to get our product into people's hands.

Lucy Hall  05:47

I think people are pretty savvy, especially if you're within a community. And if a brand suddenly comes in and says buy my thing, you know, they're gonna know that they're just being monetized. And I think, however, if a brand comes in and works with the community leader, or creates a community, where actually the centre of this community is about building a community, and just fostering that connection between people, I think people are going to see that brand in a better light and potentially going to buy from them anyway. But I think that's the whole thing around social media as well, isn't it and social media marketing, when people are just blatantly selling stuff, you're less likely almost to buy something straight away. But once you've built up that trust, and that almost that community, or that audience of people who really love you, and really  love being part of what what you have, being part of the community, then they're more likely to go when they're ready to buy, you're going to be front of mind, aren't you? I think that's normally how it works. However, I do feel like brands could be working with community leaders in a different way. So now a lot of brands work with influencers. And literally, they just send them products, or they ask them to talk about the product or sell the product, which is great, because the influencers already have a community lots of time, they have a following rather than a community. But there is space for a brand to go into actual communities, and work with the community leader to create training programmes or to create experiences, like you're talking about with Red Bull to help those communities in some way rather than than blatantly trying to sell them products.

Graham  07:14

And I suspect it's probably quite important as well that the brand shares the values of the community shares. And then there's not an obvious disconnect between we're just going to find the communities with the biggest numbers of people.

Lucy Hall  07:26

Yeah.

Graham  07:27

Like you say people are savvy and they can see through obvious attempts at kind of flattery, were it particularly isn't warranted.

Lucy Hall  07:34

Oh, absolutely. The way I go about partnerships for our communities, our communities going to 70,000 women over the last couple of years. And it really accelerated during the pandemic. And the way that we approach partnerships is that we normally get them to provide content or educational content to our community, because they want education, they want to learn about digital skills. And so if I can bring someone in that wants to teach our community about digital skills, by association, they're going to want to use their products when they're ready for anyway without saying buy my product, because they've now we've created this amazing content that people can watch over and over again or live, they can ask questions whenever they want. And the community see the brand in this great light, they love them. And when they're ready for the tool, or the digital products, they're going to use it because they feel like they've connected with that brand. And they feel like that brand is not just somebody who's partnered with the community, but part of the community as well. And I think that's really important. The brand shouldn't be this brand who's coming in and just selling stuff or talking about stuff, they should be part of the community and feel like they're part of the community as well. And whoever that may be within the organisation should be in there like talking to people and engaging,

Graham  08:39

That's important so that the community sees more than the brand, they see the individual that's representing the brand, because we all know that people trust people you don't trust kind of faceless organisations. The people are inside. So I think that that  you're right, you've got to have people that represent the brand in the community, but they should be known for who they are first and who they work for second.

Lucy Hall  09:04

Yeah absolutely.

Shelley  09:05

And I like how you sort of drew that comparison between how a brand might tap into an influencer to sell a product for a short space of time and have nothing to do with that audience before or after, and how in community, it doesn't work that way. The brands that integrate themselves really well aren't actually trying to actively sell something for the here and now they are trying to involve himself in the ongoing conversation of that brand. But another point that you kind of touched on which I just want to dive a tiny bit deeper into if you don't mind, is how you have all of these different people as part of a community and how if you are involved in in trying to either establish or manage or run a community, how you balance differing levels of skill sets, that kind of thing. So for example, you're offering training so how do you manage such a big community? When you have people with skill set level zero and skill set level 10 At the same time, how do you keep that in in one community?

Lucy Hall  10:00

it is quite hard because obviously you've got different people at different levels. So when you're sharing content that's like, you know, how do you create a customer persona and that kind of thing. It's quite entry level, something that most marketers or digital marketers, people in digital would know about. But then if you're from a different discipline, in digital, you're very technical, you wouldn't possibly have to look at that side. And you might be interested in it, you want to change career, and you want to understand different elements of digital. So there is content for everyone. But the way it's managed is that we ask people to share their own skills. So rather than me as the trainer coming in and sharing my knowledge, we ask everybody to come and share their knowledge, which means we have kind of a skill sharing community. So it becomes not just a place to pick up a training course from digital women as such, it becomes a place where everybody can share their skill. And what that means is that people who already have these great skills have an opportunity now to show that they are knowledgeable. And I think that's really, really important. And especially for women, because it's often known that we have imposter syndrome, and we are less likely to be on panels, and which is getting better now, especially digital and technology. Because five years ago, you wouldn't see any women or the technology or a digital panel would you. And so we're giving people the opportunity to be on the panel, to have their first speaking slot and that kind of thing, as well and share their knowledge and give them the confidence to do it in front of an audience whilst teaching other people in the community as well. So it's a really nice way to bring the community together.

Shelley  11:25

Oh, I love it. I love it. And so if you are the owner of a community are a custodian of the community, how does that work? If you're the person that set it up? And you're the one managing it? How do you allow it to have this life of its own, but also keep it on track, so to speak? Or how was that how was that process managed?

Lucy Hall  11:43

Look, it's really hard to create and manage your communities it's not that easy, you're gonna have different reasons for wanting to create one, some people could start a community because they want connection themselves. Some people start a community because in the back of their mind, they want to make sales or they they want to have a business from the from it. But whatever happens, it takes a lot of time to create a community. And when the community does kick off, and people start discussing amongst themselves and becoming this real kind of community, you'll find that you still have to be there to manage the community. So funding a community is really important. Understanding that it's your  community but you can't really own a community, it's not your community and lead a community if you can't own it, because the community will go off and have their own conversations. I mean, there's people within our community who already have their own subgroups where they talk to each other. And there, it all started from digital women, but now they have their own meetups, which I think is amazing.

Graham  12:33

You mentioned previously that you obviously we saw a spike in communities during the pandemic, which as you say is, you know, understandable, because people were kind of reaching out. But contact because we were all locked up inside, you got any tips for people to kind of keep those communities going, as we start to venture back out into our real worlds, right? We go out back to work, and you start to see family again. And that need for some people may be fulfilled in other ways. But there are still going to be a lot of people that are heavily dependent on the communities that have been brought up through this process. If you've got anything that you can suggest around, how do you keep that momentum going? How do you continue to grow the community as they move forward? And what point do you start to reach out and ask for help the concept of the moderator and people that kind of work within communities to make sure things are going forward?

Lucy Hall  13:17

I mean, there's a couple of questions there isn't there, there's the one about the moderators. And yeah, if your community is growing, you're gonna need more moderators. Because it takes time, the best moderators are the people who are the most active, because they're there anyway, they love it, they normally policing it, they're normally letting people know if they've said something or done something wrong. Anyway, literally the best people and you can trust them, because they're so integrated into the community. It's such a big part of their life, that they're the people that you want, and you can definitely trust them. So you would, you know, make them moderators. And to do that you should just have a set of guidelines, and have a set of almost rules about what's acceptable, what's not acceptable and give it to them. And it's, again, you're not paying them. So you might want to offer some kind of incentive or something like that, say that you'll out their picture on the website or put their picture up as the moderator of the community. Normally, that's enough, because they love the community so much. They want to share everyone's part of it. And the other question was, how do you keep the community alive? How do you keep the community going? I think at first, like I said, you do have to put a lot of work into the community, she had to get the right people into the community, and then other people have to be able to share the community. But generally, I think you do have to create content. As a community leader, you have to create content that is engaging, that ask people questions that bring people into the community to talk to each other. And you'd have to ask the community to invite other people who they think would enjoy being part of the community as well. That's how you grow it. And that's how you keep people engaging. So you can't just even when the community is created, and everybody's talking about whatever binds them together, you can't completely step back. You have to be there to get the conversation going sometimes.

Shelley  14:49

And so if you had any other tips and insights and advice, I mean, there are a lot of good insights just in that question that you wanted there, Lucy about how to grow it. How to keep people engaged and little tips about how you can go about those things. Is there anything else that you feel that we haven't touched on?

Lucy Hall  15:05

Yeah, I think I'm just going back to basics, like who is this person that is in this community? And what do they want? What do they like? How can we make sure that we're meeting their their needs? And how can we motivate them to keep joining in the conversation? I think that's really, really important. And again, making sure that your mission, you have a mission for the community, like what is this community? It might be just like the crafting community, for example, bringing people together, who love to craft and want to talk about it every day? What is the mission? Or why are you doing it? What do you want to achieve there? Knowing that it's really, really important, making sure you've got a set of guidelines for your community? What's acceptable, and what's not? Is this a safe space for people to be able to talk to each other? Can they share spam, you know, all of their products and services? Probably not. You need and people need to know all of that stuff. So before you even go to the community, put those things down on a piece of paper, and then talk to your community regularly and ask them what do they want? What is it that's connecting them, because when you know this information, you can grow the community even larger, I think the other thing is really important. If you're not a brand running community, you do have to find a way to fund it. So going out and looking for partnerships, and perhaps setting up a membership is really, really important. Otherwise, you'll burn out and you'll think what the hell am I doing all of this for.

Shelley  16:16

Lucy, that was all so, so amazing to hear. Thank you so much for all of that advice. I think for everybody listening, those are the things that they can actually go away in action, and they can start today, start writing things down and start getting a plan together. Thank you so much for your insight and your experience that you've shared with us today. It has been incredible.

Graham  16:32

Thank you for your time.

Shelley  16:34

That was Lucy Hall, lead trainer at Meta and founder of Digital Women. Lucy, thank you so much for your tips, your insights and your advice into the world of community building and community management. Certainly you touched on a few points that do indicate community is a bit of a dark art for a lot of people and a lot of brands. So we know that this podcast is going to be just so valuable to a lot of people and we cannot wait to have you again soon. For anybody interested please go ahead and join the Digital Women community that you can find on Facebook. And for all of you listening. See you next

Lucy Hall  16:34

Thank you.


15 Minutes With Ted Rubin | Podcast Episode #5

In our Fifth episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Ted Rubin. Ted is a leading Social Media Marketing Strategist, International Keynote Speaker, Business Advisor and Author.

In March 2009 he started using and evangelizing the term ROR, Return on Relationship, hashtag #RonR… a concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi-million member database and engaged community, many of whom are vocal advocates for the brand.

Many people in the social media world know Ted Rubin for his enthusiastic, energetic & undeniably personal connection to people. He has been listed as #13 on Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, and number #2 on the Leadtail list of Top 25 People Most Mentioned by digital marketers… and most recently to the leadersHum Global Power list of the Top 200 Biggest Voices in Leadership for 2022. Return on Relationship, ROR, #RonR is the basis of his philosophy… It’s All About Relationships!

We ask Ted what exactly is Return on Relationship and why is it so important for your business.

 

More About Ted

His books are as follows: Return on Relationship 2013, How to Look People in the Eye Digitally 2015, The Age of Influence 2017, and the recently released Retail Relevancy, written along with business partner and Retail Thought Leader John Andrews. Learn more about Ted at TedRubin.com, ReturnOnRelationship.com, @TedRubin, and LinkedIn.com/in/TedRubin.

 

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:14

On this episode of 15 Minutes With we're speaking with Ted Rubin. Ted is a leading social media marketing strategist, international keynote speaker, business advisor and author. In March 2009, he started using an evangelising, the term ROR, or return on relationship. A concept he believes is the cornerstone for building an engaged multi million member database and engaged community, many of whom are vocal advocates for the brand. We asked him what exactly is return on relationship? And why is it so important for businesses in the digital age?

 

Shelley  00:43

Ted, welcome to the podcast.

 

Ted Rubin  00:46

Shelly, thank you so much for having me, I'm so happy to join you guys.

 

Shelley  00:49

A pleasure to have you. And so you are the author of Return on Relationship and we would love to really get started on that and understand what you refer to as currency, measuring return on relationship as a currency,

 

Ted Rubin  01:02

I was working for a company called Elf Cosmetics. And it was in the early days, very early days of social media 2008. And the way this came about, I'm giving you a little more background here, just so you understand the whole return relationship thing was that I was building the social platforms, I immediately recognised that they were more about conversation than about marketing. I mean, I had an email list, we had banner ads, we had all the things we could be doing. But the owners of the company was so desperate to market to these people that they became my little domain and I protected it, not yet not ready, and they kept pushing. And finally, one day when they push hard enough, they said, why can't we market to these people yet, and I just blurted it out, I said, because it's not just about return on investment right now. Because in the end, it's about return on investment. It's about return on relationship. Simply put, it's the value that's accrued by a personal brand, due to nurturing a relationship. ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value I like to say both perceived and real, that will accrue over time through connection, trust, loyalty, recommendations and sharing. And I worked really hard to use it to define and educate companies, brands and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction and engagement. Just to wrap up what I just said about return relationship. I like to say that short and simple. If you're only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people don't make that mistake. If you don't know who your people are, and invest in those relationships, you might as well toss your branding, marketing and prospecting money down the drain. I think you mentioned this earlier, when we were talking, I like to say the relations on the most important currency, if you don't honour them, you're not going to be able to increase your ROI by wrapping ROR around it.

 

Graham  02:46

Before we came on, we watched your video on your website, and you talk about brands no longer being owned by brands and brand being owned by the consumer. And I think it's a really important point that kind of goes along the side of that because there is a drive for businesses that as soon as they've got access to someone who they presume wants to listen, the first thing they do is try and force a message down their throat. And it's generally sent up a sales message. And I don't think brands have quite understood that they're not in control of the conversation anymore. Relationships can be broken just as quickly as they can be built.

 

Ted Rubin  03:19

100%. What's different now is that we pick and choose where we see ads, how we engage with brands, it's incredibly easy to turn off advertising. to just ignore it. The problem is a brand has their marketing budget, they reach out, they get Graham's attention, they get his email address or some other way to communicate with them. And then they start banging him over the head again and again and again. Instead of recognising that they've got to continue nurturing this relationship the same way we do when we meet friends, or we meet people in business or anything else. We don't just, by the way, a lot of people just meet us and move on. And then six months later or a day later, a favour is asked instead of building that relationship, doing a little quid pro quo, doing something for someone without expectation of anything directly in return. And then knowing you're building a bank of returns, and brands need to understand that they can do the same thing. It's so easy for us to find a replacement. I am an Allbirds customer, you guys familiar with it? Okay, I love Allbirds. But if they mess up, there's 20 other choices out there. And one of the reasons I don't make that move is they don't do that to me. I feel that they do it really, really well. They provided me with an app, they made it really easy for me to find my content. You know what I've already bought in the past order something in the future. I periodically get an email when they have a new product, when something cool is coming out. I might get something that they have a special offer around the holidays because they know I might want to introduce my friends or family to the brand, but they don't constantly bang me over the head. Whereas I have other brands that I purchase things from and every day I get something from them and every day they're asking me to buy and I'm already a customer and how many pairs of sneakers do I need? I don't want to be retargeted. No human being likes being retargeted. No one wants to walk out of the store and be offered a coupon to walk back in. And if they do, you're training them to get that coupon. My business partner likes to say that they used to be brand loyal to pizza, but not anymore. His wife just wants to get the pizza from wherever they have the coupon from. I mean, I don't know about you. But I know a lot of people that I don't necessarily have time for it, but I do it sometimes. Go in, fill up your shopping cart, abandon it, you will immediately get something offering you a discount on the same thing you would just about to buy. Now Amazon doesn't do it, because they offer a lot more value. And they know their customers keep coming back, because they're so good to them. Because they really pay attention. And they deliver on time, and they take things back, but you go to Target.com, you abandon your cart, they're going to come after you.

 

Shelley  05:44

What I love Ted is the comparison between personal relationships and how those are nurtured, and professional relationships or relationships with the customer. Because it makes it easy for people to understand, right? Instead of thinking with this brand hat on, they can actually go oh, well, it's just the same as in real life, because it is still real life, what you said with all of those vouchers and coupon examples, what's also really interesting is not measuring the damage that we're doing with all of this kind of advertising that we're just bombarding people with, how would you say when discussing with business leaders, or empowering marketing, or any department for that matter, to speak to their leaders to encourage them to take this philosophy on board? How would you do that?

 

Ted Rubin  06:25

I try to get them to look at it from their own perspective to be a customer of their own brand. You know, I look at a CMOS and I go, Are you subscribing to your own emails? Are you visiting your brand and then surfing the web anonymously, not as your CMO not as who you are. And when I say anonymously, I don't mean to hide it from your employees? I mean, to hide it from the from the tracking that's going on in the web? Are you experiencing what your customers are experiencing? I mean, I look at marketers all the time, and ask them to behave more like customers, to think more like a customer. What works for you, you know, how do you feel about bright red subject lines with total nonsense that really isn't about how do you feel when you get to an offer? That is not what you saw in the subject line of your email, like, um, it's immediate delete and sometimes I'll get, look, I'm a human, I'll get drawn into clicking on something because it's an interesting subject line or something like that. Then I get there and I go, okay, they suckered me, I'm out, you know, and then I'm not just out, which is the way they look at it, they look at it as I'm just out, okay. He went in, he clicked through, he left there, I'm looking, I'm not only out I'm annoyed. And I'm that less likely to click on their links again in the future. And look, that was a really intrinsic part of email marketing in the past, I like to look at them and say, start thinking about instead of email marketing, think about it as me mail marketing, thinking about about me, what are you delivering to the consumer, you're the consumer. Brands experiment and a lot of brands are experimenting more than more, but a line that my business partner I like to use, and it's a big part of our book, Retail Relevancy is that simplicity is the new eDLP. eDLP is everyday low pricing, which is what Walmart made famous, we're not going to give you sales, we're always gonna have the best prices. What we're saying now is simplicity is the new eDLP. Make it easy for them, and they will buy from you again and again and again. And what is easy for the mean, it doesn't just mean checking out easily. It means make it easy that they don't have to go looking elsewhere and make it easy that when they want to return, make it simple, that when they have a customer service issue, they don't have to go searching the site to figure out how to speak to somebody or what to click on. I like to say, you know, people say oh my god, Amazon's made it impossible for other brands to grow and exist. I think in some ways, it's just the opposite. I agreed with that for a while. But right now, Amazon has led a pathway to new brands to understand how important ease of use and simplicity is and how important good customer experience is. Mostly, if I'm buying just a general product, I go to Amazon, if I see it in another place, I try to find it in Amazon because it makes my life easy. But I also work with a lot of small upcoming brands. I'm vegan, I get vegan meals from a company called Veestro. I'm going to exercise and I want to hydrate myself without all the garbage that goes into things like Gatorade. So I have a company called Hydrant. Both of these companies, and there's many more than I use are like monthly subscriptions. But if they make it incredibly easy to change your order, to put off your order, to delay your order. They email me every week before my order with four days ahead of time to say we're about to ship you we will be doing it next week. If you want to change that. Here's a link coming right now. I go in and click the link, there's a calendar, I pick a date I move. Now they've learned that from Amazon, they learn these ease of use things. They've learned these things. And then Amazon has also provided a platform with their cloud based services with other things to allow other companies to do these things. So yes, they've made it harder for certain companies, but I believe they lead the way for a lot of retailers by showing people how important a relationship is. Do you never see an ad from Amazon saying we care about you. No, they care about you. They're not saying it, they're doing it. Now granted you again There's a lot of naysayers. Well, they only care about because they're making money, fine. But the reason they're making money is because they do such a good job nurturing the relationship, taking things back, fixing things for you, when there's a problem. As we all know, there's a lot of third party sellers on Amazon, I've even when it says no returns, I've had Amazon take back a product for me, because they look at the lifetime value of me as a customer that I've been a customer since 1995. And then every time they raise my prime, I don't even blink, I just pay it and they see how much I buy from them. And of course, they have analysts that are saying, well, this is a single guy living at home looks like he's buying a lot of stuff from us, probably the majority of the things we're going to do right by him. And yes, a lot of that is data. But like I like another thing I talk about is you can't just rely on the data, you've got to apply judgement to your data.

 

Graham  10:47

And it's really interesting, because one of our most read articles that we've written as a business ourselves is actually titled Convenience is key for customer satisfaction. And it is continuously in the top five pages of our website that are visited. So the hope is the message is getting out there and people are understanding this. And businesses are not just looking at it, but they're doing something with it. And I think the other thing that is implicit in kind of everything you've said, is around the understanding of trust, because the businesses that are getting it right are taking the time to build the trust from their  customers so that when something goes wrong, there's no issues because implicitly we trust these people, and we know it will be dealt with. And we know that if they're going to send us a message, there's going to be some sort of value exchange as a result of it, which is why content is king. And the brands that are getting it wrong are taking trust and setting it on fire at the first opportunity they have for a quick return in the immediate

 

Ted Rubin  11:41

one of my favourite responses to these kinds of questions. When people ask me, what's the ROI? What's the ROI of ROR? What's the ROI of social is, I like to look back at them and ask them what's the ROI of trust and what's the ROI of loyalty. And both of those are the ultimate in anything that you're building as a business. Trust, because that means people are happy to do business with you and we'll do it on a regular basis. Loyalty means they're going to stand by you when things aren't perfect or when you need someone and I like I also tell brands in social media, when you make a mistake or somebody's criticising you, I always take a breath and wait a moment. Because usually if I'm getting criticised unfairly, one of my followers will come in and they will stand up for me. So I don't even have to say it. And I would say that happens 90% of the time, I believe this, brands tend to jump right in, they're so quick to defend themselves. They're so worried about something. But again, if you engage with people, if you answer their questions, if you're there for them, if you build that relationship, that return on relationship will come back as insurance for your brand.

 

Shelley  12:40

It's honest engagement, isn't it? It's not defensive engagement. And I think people are so clued up to that they can see it instantly is whether a brand is genuine or not. And I think a lot of that stems from, like you said, the trust that's been built or not built over all of the communications and all of the experiences that have passed and whatever that history might be.

 

Ted Rubin  12:58

Right, and I mean, again, it's amazing what you can get for an apology or not even an apology, don't you have to go that far, I made a mistake, okay, for someone that can't say I'm sorry, they can, a lot of them can say I made a mistake, or I misread that, or I didn't get it properly, I misjudged the situation. But unfortunately, very many are afraid to do that. And the brands that can get incredible advocacy from their customers because of that, and especially if they fix a situation that didn't work out, you know, or or even you made the mistake, but we're the brand, we're gonna stand behind it, we're going to help we know you ordered the wrong thing. You know, Amazon even orders now one of their choices, I ordered the wrong thing, you can still send it back, you know, those things are just really important. And I think it's what's allowed all of this digital sales and marketing and online sales and E commerce to happen because of that.

 

Shelley  13:47

Absolutely.

 

Graham  13:48

And if there was one thing that you could kind of give to the people listening to this podcast as a starting point, or a takeaway to kind of hit the road and start moving in this direction, what is that thing?

 

Ted Rubin  14:00

I'm going to give you two,

 

Graham  14:01

okay

 

Ted Rubin  14:02

they kind of relate to each other. So something that's real simple, easy to take away and keep in your head is that relationships are like muscle tissue, the more you engage them, the stronger and more valuable they become. And then number two is a network gives you reach, and that's your outreach, your email list, you get that network, you get a lot of people but a community gives you power. Networks connect, communities care. And when you build a community around your brand, you're going to exponentially get the value of that return on relationship because the people will be there to support you and support each other. And then if just some some immediate things that people can do is that I think people I think brands think it's too hard to communicate with customers. It takes too much effort. I think brands need to start empowering their employees to reach out and connect with people to stop worrying about are they going to say the wrong thing? Are they going to answer the wrong thing, you know, train them, train them on how to engage with people without necessarily saying no, or answering a question the wrong way. Just people want to be heard. And when they feel like they're saying somebody's there listening to them as simple as I hear you. And let me look into that. And I'd like to talk to my manager and get back to you. I mean, there's so many ways to do this where you don't have to give an answer, of course, then you do have to get back to the problem is that happens, and then you never hear back. But if you again, it's the same thing, when I get put on hold by certain brands, or I'm on a chat, and they say, give me a few minutes, I'm gonna come back there, I know, they're gonna come back, I know that if I wait there, I'm gonna get some value out of that. They're training me to have patience with them. And I'll get value out of that. So I just think companies need to start empowering their employees and allowing them to power the brand.

 

Shelley  15:37

Ted, it has been amazing talking to you. Thank you so so much for your time. I know that everybody listening, there are going to be loads of questions off the back of this. So I'm sure in future we're gonna have to have you back to do another episode, but it has been an absolute pleasure.

 

Graham  15:49

That was Ted Rubin, social marketing strategist, international keynote speaker, business advisor and author. Treating the relationships we have with our customers like we do with those in our personal life is key to building trust and loyalty. Following that with putting ourselves in their shoes and taking a look at our marketing messages ensures we're not eroding the trust we worked so hard to create and to continue to drive loyalty and remove the need for customers to look elsewhere, we need to ensure we are creating experiences built on convenience and ease of use. As Ted put it, Simplicity is the new everyday low pricing. Thanks for listening to this episode of 15 minutes with and we look forward to having you along on the next one.


15 Minutes With Will Bonaddio | Podcast Episode #4 | Part 2

In our fourth episode of 15 Minutes With we're back talking to Social Media Manager, Will Bonaddio. He had such good insights that we just couldn't fit it all into a single episode.

Will draws from a wealth of experience in the social space, bringing incredible insights to the episode. He is an award-winning marketer who has previously worked agency-side on brands such as Disney, T-Mobile and Domino’s Pizza and in-house as Social Media Editor-in-Chief for McDonalds in the UK. He is now part of the social strategy team at FutureLearn. Will talks through some of the challenges and insights from his experience at the cutting edge of social media in the UK.

His perspectives on balancing personality and cancel culture in the evolving landscape of social media are not to be missed.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Shelley  00:14

Welcome to 15 minutes with on today's episode we pick up speaking to Will Bonaddio, the social media expert for a second time, the first 15 minutes simply was not enough. We had so many questions to cover and so much content that is an absolute pleasure to reintroduce to you today, Will Bonaddio.

What happens when the tone is off? Or the message doesn't lend as expected. And so you get people responding in a negative way. Or you get people sort of saying, hey, that content was not what we expected, or you get trolls? How do you deal with that? What are the sort of the pitfalls?

 

Will Bonaddio  00:50

Yeah, so we've all been there. If you haven't yet, I envy you. Sometimes you go through creating a post and you love it. And it looks great on your big screen or in your meeting room, and you're all agree. And then you post and it flops or worse, does brand damage. And trust me, I've done all of the above. I think when I was working for bigger brands, I had basically a direct line into the legal and comms teams, and we'd say, Does this have your blessing? Now, that would slow things down a lot. But at least I had full confidence that if anybody came to me and said, Why the hell did you post that? I could say it's full approval from everyone. Fair enough, like you know, hands up, made a mistake, but it's not like I just came up with it and posted it. And now we're in this big mess. So I think yeah, having your your tone of voice document and make sure that everyone bought into that gives you those guardrails, so you're already on the right track. If you're unsure, the more people you can show it to the better. But then I think there's so many ways that it could go wrong, what we're trying to do it at the moment with Future Learn is, we're really trying to find our tone for social specifically, not as a business, but on social media. And what we're finding actually is that the more funny, irreverent stuff that works so well for certain brands, it doesn't really resonate with our audience, that's not to say you know, it's not like people hate it. It just doesn't do as big numbers as certain other content. So we're not saying anything offensive, but we are trying different tones and different routes in just to see what's going to resonate best. Don't be afraid to do a bit of that, you know, I said to the team, let's use the next month. This is when I first joined, like just try stuff, let's see what's working, never rude, never, you know, offensive or anything like that. But just different tones, self deprecation. Does that work? No. Okay, well, what about being knowledgeable, okay, maybe that doesn't work, as well as being motivational, etc. Try those things out at a low level, don't start promoting them. But I think the really important thing is just to try, because it'd be very easy for me to go away and say, Well, look, every time these brands are funny, it does really big numbers. So I've gone away and now I've just spent three weeks working on this strategy, this is what we're doing and then actually it flops. Testings at a low level. In terms of things going wrong, you can go wrong in many ways. Like it could be the post that you did, it could be your latest TV ad that you actually in the social team has nothing to do with that every time you're posting, people are commenting on that. Or it could be something that, you know, the founder has done. GoDaddy, the internet company, their CEO, or founder rather, like shot an elephant posted it on social media. And obviously, the backlash was massive, and so many other examples of that. I don't mean, just call out GoDaddy, but that's just the one that springs to mind. So I think it's really important in that situation, to I mean, I love a process. Can you have like some sort of crisis document, you know, what are the levels of crisis? And what are the actions that we take? In those examples, I've just given. Make sure that people in your team and beyond are on board with it. And really try and stick with it if you can. And I think something that I've been guilty of or seen other people be guilty of is sometimes, not always, it can be a bit of a storm in a teacup. And when you are in amongst it feels massive. And you have people from outside of your team saying we've got to post a response to this, that we're going to pin to the top of our pages so that everybody's aware of our response is. And in some ways that could do more damage, because not everybody is aware of it. So really, I would recommend some sort of social listening tool, we use one, I don't need to name it, because I don't work for them. But it was it was Sprinklr, which I recommend, but not only can they see like any negative comments that are coming through, but you can also set it up that they can say like the velocity of negative comments. So okay, we always see, you know, 5% negative comments. But suddenly, overnight, we saw a massive increase of those. So therefore, you know, you're getting this email just to take a look at it. So it's not like that can be really helpful. But yeah, I think making sure that everybody is agreed on what you're going to do. And I think I mean, literally at the time of recording Peloton are going through a bit of a storm at the moment. They just had to lay off 1000s of employees. And I think it's really interesting to see how that's being dealt with. So if you go on the b2b, sorry no the b2c channels like Facebook, Twitter, etc. They're not talking about it. I go on LinkedIn a lot. I love LinkedIn. I know people at Peloton so I'm seeing a lot of conversation on it and you know, people you've left saying, you know, I'm now open to work, you know, getting 1000s of shares and likes, etc. So if you were just looking at that you would see it is massive that how, I don't know the answer to this, but how much do the consumers know about this, I'm sure they would care about it, if they didn't know about it, they're obviously not talking about it on those channels. But if you look at their LinkedIn at the moment, they've now done a post where they've literally created a database of people that they've had to layoff saying, you know, we recommend these people, we stand by them, which people are saying is a really classy move, I think they've done that really nicely. And really well. So that's one way of dealing with it. You've also seen, I'm sure, the KFC example where they ran out of chicken. So they did a, you know, an award winning response where it was very human, funny, kind of a one pager that they put in the press, and then obviously went viral on social media, I think in that instance, they're allowed to be a bit funny, silly, because it's their problem. You know, it's not like something has affected. I mean, apart from affecting chicken lovers, it hasn't affected people's, you know, it hasn't hurt anyone, really. So you've gotta judge it. And it's really hard. But I think with those tools, like a guide, what you're going to do in which situation and really go for my tweet that went badly wrong, versus, you know, a member of staff doing something really terrible, what would your response be, and just remember that, yeah, the more human you can make it, the better. And also don't necessarily think that everybody is talking about it, just because all of your colleagues are.

 

Shelley  06:21

It is really hard to know, when, you know, like a bad response on social is damaging, because not all bad responses are damaging,

 

Will Bonaddio  06:31

Yes.

 

Shelley  06:31

And arguably some that even that we might consider to be still actually promote the company massively, because they go they essentially go viral. So I mean, bad press in a sense, or as they say, any, you know. Any publicity is good publicity. But it is a little bit like that, it's hard, you know that there can be some massively damaging stories out there and responses to pieces of content on social media, but arguably, you know, they're sort of doing their job as well. So it can be quite difficult to know what that line is. But I love your advice on having the guidelines, and also having multiple levels of, of sign off and perspective within the business. So it doesn't just lie with one person and their idea of what might be what might be suitable

 

Will Bonaddio  07:13

Totally. And I appreciate that sometimes slows things down, you know, sometimes by days, but I think if you've got those guardrails in place, it gives you permission to do some of the more viral things if you know, it takes certain boxes, and you know, there's little to no chance of it being taken in the wrong way. And I think you've got that freedom to do it. But yeah, I mean, surely what you were just saying, we've seen overnight, Adidas, has done a posts, showing women's breasts, come in all shapes and sizes, and then they're promoting their new sports bra. And understandably, some people are saying, That's amazing, great that you're doing this. And then understandably as well, I would argue some people say I can't believe you're showing this so inappropriate that you know, you're showing nudity on my channels. So I think they will have I mean, hats off to them. I can't imagine how that legal and comms meeting went before posting it. I can see it really from both sides. Like I understand why people think it's inappropriate, I can also totally understand why people think we should be talking about this more, I really do stand in the middle of this one. But I think I'm part of a advertising Facebook group where we talk about ads because I'm an advertising nerd. And what we've seen is, you know, some people I've shared in their, tick, I think Adidas definitely wanted that. First person said, I'm really offended. And second person said, Why are you offended? That's ridiculous. This is exactly the kind of conversation we should have. And I said to them, that is exactly what Adidas would have wanted, but I'm sure with that, and, you know, the Colin Kaepernick example, from Nike, where, you know, he took a knee and he was suspended from American football, people were burning their Nikes, etc. Again, I think they would have done that as a calculated, okay, we know people are going to be outraged. But we also know that people are going to really love this and love the fact that we've taken a stand for it. So I think again, they would have said, well, what, how bad could it go? How good could it go? And what we're going to do every eventuality of that. And I would imagine Adidas have done the same.

 

Graham  09:02

And we've used the term viral a lot, right? Kind of through the conversation that we've been talking. And I think there is a, certainly in my experience, a misconception that you can plan to go viral, you know, you can kind of go we are going to create a viral piece of content and then everyone sits in a room and does it. I think and this is, you know, kind of asking for an opinion on this like is that you could argue that people like Dollar Shave Club, when they produced their original launch ad, there was an intention that that was going to go viral. And it was written in such a way and produced in such a way that it was highly unlikely that it wasn't gonna happen.

 

Will Bonaddio  09:34

Yeah,

 

Graham  09:35

But that is a little bit of like capturing lightning in a bottle. I don't know that it's something that you can just on demand produce a viral piece of content.

 

Will Bonaddio  09:43

No, I agree. I agree. I get worried when I go to conferences, or listen to podcasts. And people are just talking about those things, because they're great. You know, the John Lewis, you all need to do a John Lewis ad. They are great but exactly that they're hard to come by. I think you'd probably want to aim for to try and do one or two, if you can, in a year, but I think they're really hard to do. And that's why you've got to consistently be posting about stuff as well. But yeah, the the benefits of activity like that in terms of like long term brand building, harder to measure, because you might not necessarily see an instant return on sales unless it gets really big, but stuff like that, over the long term can really help drive new business. So I think you should be aiming to do stuff that people care about. That's remarkable. That's interesting. I mean, that's what social media is meant to be. And that's what good advertising is, you know, people don't hate ads, they hate bad ads, people like content. And if that's an ad, then so be it. So I think that's what you're trying to be aiming for all times. But yeah, it's hard to do. There's dedicated creative agencies that will try and do that. And it doesn't always pay off. But friends of mine, I used to work on the Disney account for six months, friends of mine, who have worked on it for much longer. They were saying, even with a new Avengers Trailer, they still need to put money behind it. Because you can't be at the whim of the algorithm. I think the Dollar Shave example. It's an old one. It's a really good one. But it's any viral campaign now. And it's harder, really, correct me if I'm wrong, but it's harder to think of one that immediately springs to mind in the last year. Whereas before, I think we could reel off a whole bunch of them. But yeah, even with an Avengers Trailer, you've got to put money on it. Because if you're the will of the algorithm, that could be something big news that just hits that maybe that post didn't do quite as well as anticipated. So I think the fact that they were doing that this suggests that yeah, it's gonna be much harder than it was.

 

Shelley  11:32

Will, do you have any tips, any insights, anything that you think we haven't covered?

 

Will Bonaddio  11:37

Live video had a big moment during the first lockdown in the UK, March 2020, and video live everywhere, because people obviously couldn't be out and about seeing people as much, it's then kind of taken a backseat, the algorithms seem to show it less, but we are definitely seeing more of a focus on it from the platform's themselves now, and live shopping, almost like QVC, etc. You know, it's coming to social, it's big in certain markets, not really in the West yet, but I get the impression that that is going to be coming up and I think hand in hand with that you could do a whole podcast about it that just gonna say is, you know, Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFT's. I know, I sound like like a tech bro when I talk about those, but they're, they're definitely getting more airtime. And as parts of web 3.0, I do think they are going to play a part, I think we're at the testing phase of it now. I think there's going to be a lot of rubbish associated with it both in terms of ways that people are activating it, particularly brands who are just trying to jump on it, I would recommend people kind of hang back, wait and see what's working, and then go from there. But I do think it's interesting, because rather than just selling, you know, pictures of apes, what we're seeing more of is actually resulting in people owning parts of businesses, or you know, by buying this NFT, you're basically saying almost like a subscription service, it could be for example, I am not working with McDonald's anymore. I do not know this at all. But I could imagine that the fabled gold cards that you showed at McDonald's to get free foods that could work as an NFT, that could work as something that, you know, by investing in this, you have unlocked something. So I think that's a really interesting space. And I've mentioned earlier about communities that seems to be a real focus on for social and brands and for the platforms themselves. And I think NFT's can really be part of that. And I think brands are focusing more on community, because like I say, it means they can do the job for you. But it's also really good way to improve your product, if you know what people are saying about it. And if you've got that community, ideally, you want to own it yourself. So I think we're gonna see more of that as well look at what influencers are doing. A lot of them are moving off of Facebook or YouTube. And they're creating their own kind of own sites, because this is the thing you can have a million fans today, if Facebook said, You know what, we're closing the brand page platform, we're not doing that anymore, you would lose them all overnight. So how can you think about kind of future proofing that and you know, not being at the whim of the algorithm? We talked about it today? How can you have an audience that every time you try and speak to them, you get through to them instantly? That'd be amazing. So I think we're gonna see more people, brands as well focusing on that. And then finally, I think voice, so Twitter spaces, Discord, etc. I hate the idea of that myself. But I think there's a appetite for it. I think putting brands in that kind of live, anything can happen example will, we'll be frightening for many, that it seems to be the way that consumers are going and brands will keep talking to them. And they need to be considering that. So I think it's exciting times I think it's more, you're not going to be able to just post something and then forget about it as a consumer or a brand as feels like it's gonna be more live more always on more really talking to people. And that is scary. But that seems to be the way that things going and then we couldn't do a podcast without talking about the metaverse. I think, I hope this bites me in future but I think the jury's still out. I think I was a big advocate of virtual reality back in 2016. I love the idea of virtual reality. But the fact is, it's an effort. It's an effort to put it on your face. Even people who've got it say they don't use it that much. Whereas the phone, you're using it, you know, hundreds of times a day. So keep an eye out on the metaverse and you know, being in virtual reality or being able to go into this second world and interact with people. I'm very interested. I'm following it very closely. But the jury is till out for me.

 

Shelley  11:54

Me too. Will, thank you so much for your time. We have covered incredible stuff. I think this is going to be super, super helpful for a lot of people, brands, individuals and the full spectrum of brands, big small everything in between. Thank you so much for your time. We really, really appreciate it and hope to have you back again soon.

 

Will Bonaddio  15:53

My pleasure. Thank you so much for having me guys, it's been really fun.

 

Shelley  15:57

That was Will Bonaddio, social media expert talking to us about judgement and humour, about response guidelines, being human, democratic perspectives and decision making, and the need for advertising. To everyone listening. See you next time.


15 Minutes With Will Bonaddio | Podcast Episode #3 | Part 1

In our third episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Social Media Manager, Will Bonaddio. His interests are in the fields of social media voice and strategy for brands.

Will draws from a wealth of experience in the social space, bringing incredible insights to the episode. He is an award-winning marketer who has previously worked agency-side on brands such as Disney, T-Mobile and Domino’s Pizza and in-house as Social Media Editor-in-Chief for McDonalds in the UK. He is now part of the social strategy team at FutureLearn. Will talks through some of the challenges and insights from his experience at the cutting edge of social media in the UK.

His perspectives on balancing personality and cancel culture in the evolving landscape of social media are not to be missed.

 

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Shelley  00:13

Welcome to 15 minutes with, on today's episode, we're speaking with social media expert Will Bonadio. Will has big brand experience in running social media strategies during his time at McDonald's, as well as more recently within the relatively smaller brand of Future Learn will talk us through social strategy based on scale, personality and content, celebrity voices, business benefits, and paid versus organic.  Will, welcome.

 

Will Bonaddio  00:39

Well, thank you for having me. It's great to be here.

 

Shelley  00:41

So social media marketing, how is it different when you compare your experience within big brands versus relatively smaller brands?

 

Will Bonaddio  00:51

Yeah, I mean, it's, it's been a bit of an eye opener for me, having worked at McDonald's on their social team for five years, and then joining a smaller, comparatively smaller company like Future Learn, I've been surprised of how I've kind of had to relearn a lot of things that I kind of took for granted, I think people will like to hear this, it is much harder working for smaller brands, I can say that now with experience. When you are working for a big brands, like McDonald's, even your worst performing posts will still be seen by hundreds of 1000s of people. Whereas you know, when you're working with a much smaller brand, and it can be quite daunting and a little soul destroying, sometimes when you spend so long working on a post that actually, you know, you got a handful of likes, there's a lot of kind of like, how can we cheat the algorithm, game it in a bigger company, you know, you're usually promoting this your posts anyway. So don't really need to worry about that. And there's a lot of times where whether you want to or not, you are just telling people things, you know, and that's not best practice, when it comes to social, just buy this product now. But sometimes when you're a big brand, you've got so many products to talk about a lot, it does turn into that, whereas I think is a lot more of a challenge for smaller brands to take on that journey and show them the behind the scenes and you know, give your brand a bit more of a personality. So in many ways, you're actually creating more content, and it really becomes a part of your like day to day and how can you document as much of what you're doing as possible. And to help feed what you're putting out on social, I say those are the biggest differences, I would say the approach that we've got now in the company I'm currently working at is very, very different to what I had before. And actually a lot of the tactics that we were using before simply don't work. So yeah, there's been a bit of relearning and think people listening, if they are working small brands, you've got my utmost respect, I never realised it was going to be like this until I until I left the golden arches.

 

Shelley  02:26

And so is it in your experience this complete differentiation between the two ends of the spectrum? Does the strategy come from the fact that when you have a big brand, you have a team full of people helping you? And you have big budgets? So actually, that's what dictates the strategy because you've got so much resource? Or actually, is it the fact that a really big brand versus a really small brand has a totally different user journey? And audiences, your content is totally different? Is that? Or is it a combination?

 

Will Bonaddio  02:55

Yeah, not to kind of, to give you an annoying answer. But it is a bit of both. I think that in both situations, strategy has to come first. And then how that is implemented. Like you say, sometimes it is you just got loads of content that you just need to get out or whatever. So yeah, strategy is absolutely key in a working on a big brand, or small, you should really have like, what are we trying to achieve? And what does success look like? It's really quick and easy to get into. I want to do a funny post, lets you know, here's a great idea have come up with lets post it, and we're all guilty of it myself very much included, really do the work upfront. And that might be a bit kind of like while you're testing things anyway, what do you want people to take away? What do you want to be kind of known for? And really think about what that means? So what are the three to five content pillars, you're always going to post about, you know, that might be focusing on the value of your brand, the credibility of your brand, the trustworthiness of your brand, come up with those three to five, and then it's a lot easier to say, Okay, well, that post that I've come up with, does it fit into any of those? Yes, it does. Okay, so we're going to do it. No, it doesn't, therefore, we won't. So whether you've got a whole load of stuff to talk about, or nothing to talk about, it's a really good starting point, the thing that we're all afraid to talk about in social I find is also what the kind of the business benefits are, it really annoys me. And again, I'm guilty of it myself, where we focus on, you know, I got a great engagement rate of 2%. Cool, but what does that mean? Like? What's that actually doing for the company? And you can talk in your marketing teams about that. And yeah, it is a big success, because maybe your engagment rate before was naught point naught five. But so what you know, why does the CEO need you employed? If all you can offer is, you know, a 2% engagement rate and nothing actually on the bottom line? So it's a hard one, there's no quick and easy answer. And here's how you measure it really easily. But you've got to be thinking about that as well as part of your strategy. And again, that will then help with what you're posting and why.

 

Graham  04:45

But I just I want to pick up on something that you said in your first kind of answer around the big versus small is that when you're working with the big you tend to have budgets, right so you can kind of throw them around and sponsor posts and in your experience, has social media become a bit of a pay to play model? Is it that organic reach is good? Theoretically, and it always was that it was more powerful, right? Because if it was organic, in theory, the people that are engaging with it actually care versus the sponsored or just people that it gets put in front of, but is it a somewhat necessary part of social media that you need to find budget?

 

Will Bonaddio  05:23

Yes. So two parts of this, so it's never just a Yeah, especially. So I would say, I sound a bit like Gary Vaynerchuk when I say this, but I think organic reach is really good still on LinkedIn, and TikTok, the great thing about TikTok, for anybody who's not familiar with using it, whether as a brand or you know, normal person is you do not need to have any followers, and you can have a video get a million views. It's not about your follower number, which actually makes it quite difficult to judge who you should be working with, because somebody's you know, 1000s of followers, but actually, the videos do very badly and somebody can become an overnight success. LinkedIn is also very good with reach, because the last stuff I read is that about 98% of people on LinkedIn, don't actually ever post on LinkedIn. So it's a real like, I know we're not guilty of that, a lot of people don't. And so there's simply not enough content on there. So they have to show more content that they've got to more people, otherwise, you're not going to stay on there. So I think those two Yes, there is still a chance for good organic reach, unfortunately, for the likes of Facebook and Instagram, and just the way that Twitter is built, organic reach is very hard to consistently achieve. I'm not saying it's impossible, of course, we've all seen things go viral, but to consistently do it is very difficult. And again, this comes back to justifying your role in a business saying, you know, we're churning out content every day 2% engagement rate, we reach 5000 people, what is that really doing? And if you put a bit of money behind it, could you be achieving so much more. At McDonald's? Yes, we promoted everything. Because when you're serving 3.5 million customers a day, you need everything to be going viral, because otherwise, it's really not worth it, you know, we would do a post about McFlurry, it would do nicely. And you know, anybody would be pleased from an organic reach perspective with that. But if everybody who saw it bought the products, it wouldn't even make a blip on the sales charts. When you're dealing with a big brand, you have to be dealing with big numbers. And I guess now with Future Learn, you know, we look at the post, and yes, we've got some that have done, you know, hundreds of 1000s of views or whatever that might be, but we've got 18 million customers. So again, is that really enough? I of course, I see value in organic social. And I think it's good to be consistently posting so that people really get an understanding of you and your followers who are your biggest advocates and fans, you're maintaining that reminders and they're they understand what you stand for as a brand. That's really important. But I would say that we also have a dedicated paid strategy all about, you know, bringing in new customers, or you know, getting people to upgrade, etc. That is really important. And overnight with that you can reach a million people, no matter what you're posting. If you really silo it, while these are our paid ads, and that's all that new customers and then we do organic, which you know, is seen by hundreds or 1000s, whatever the number might be, depending on where you're working, I would ask you is that the best use of your time, money and efforts? Should you not consider how you can get the two working a bit closer together? And maybe it is the case of you know, your organic posts, you've got one that did really well. So that's the one that you promote. You don't have to necessarily promote every single one. But yeah, we've seen this work really well. We think it's got appeal beyond just our hardcore audience let's promote it and then just getting a bit more value out of it. And you're making a better use of what you're putting your time and effort into. But if you are a serious brand looking to grow your business and get new customers and millions of customers, then yeah, I do genuinely believe that paid is necessary, I'm afraid.

 

Shelley  08:40

How does a big brand on social media build a personality get an identity across?

 

Will Bonaddio  08:46

Yeah, cool. I'm really glad you asked this question, because this is pretty much all I talk about the moment I'll try and distil it into a few minutes. But basically, I think a tone of voice document is really important. So everything from if we were a celebrity who would we sound like at McDonald's the kind of the tone of voice was three parts you know, the best of these three. So our best crew member, a helpful courteous, diligent, hard working real person that you meet when you go into the restaurants, Ant and Dec, that kind of cheeky funny, your grandmother knows and loves them but so does your young nephew or child like they've got that broad appeal never crude never rude but you know can be they're cheeky and very British in their humour and then same with Michael McIntyre. So you know, similar trends there, if you can build up that personality is that's the kind of thing that they might say that's a really good kind of litmus test to begin with. Then also think about certain words, phrases, even emojis or not that you would use. And then also, if I had a visual I would show you you can almost get like these barometers how serious versus like wacky do we want to be? How knowledgeable versus curious do we want to be and you can literally put that over a variety of pages and just where does the dial set really make sure that everybody is bought into that and that it reflects to different channels, you might change things depending on LinkedIn versus Twitter, for example, but it's important that your social team all aligns on that, but then also your marketing team and probably above as well make sure that the legal team are on board have the comms team are on board with it as well. Because if you're, if you've got those kind of guardrails, it becomes a lot easier to know what you would and wouldn't say something that I'd recommend for the bigger brother, or for anyone else I was gonna say to be around any brand is don't punch down. And by that, I mean, we've all seen Wendy's. We all love the Wendy's example. But I think those days are slightly gone now of being rude to customers. If anybody hasn't seen that, or you know, people asking to be roasted, they do it, they own it. But I think I wouldn't recommend brands try and do that. I think there's just too much that could go wrong. It's bit disingenuine as well. It's Wendy's thing, punch upwards, not downwards. So you know, I've been tempted where I've done in the past to be fair, but many years ago, where you know, a customer was rude. And we would go back with a cheeky reply. But I think these days, you don't know what people are dealing with, or what's going on in their lives. And actually, you know, don't feed the trolls. It's something that I did agree with, at best, you're going to go viral for being rude to somebody. And that's just not something I think we should be encouraging at all. So don't do that. And then I think the other thing, this is a really important one that I'd really recommend everybody does is look at your competitors, your direct competitors, and see the kinds of things that they're talking about and doing. And actually what I found in many of the jobs, I'm not going to name names, but in many of the industries or the roles I've been in all competitors are not great. So you can see how well it's working for them and really look at the numbers just because something's got like 100 likes as an example. They've got a million fans, that's not great. Where's if they've got 50, then obviously, it's amazing. So really, really look at that, but also look at kind of best in class examples from outside of your industry as well. I would strongly recommend people check out the Twitter, twitter accounts, I think it's the best account for a brand on Twitter. McDonald's USA does an amazing job on Twitter and all channels, GymShark fantastic. Grammarly does really good content as well. Innocent, of course, we always talk about Innocent in every podcast or talk that we do. And same, we're gonna say it's Paddy Power, and Peloton as well. So if you check out those sorts of things, that's got nothing to do with Future Learn, or McDonald's, a lot of those, but look at what they're doing. And you get a really good sense of what good tone is and what people are engaging with. And then the last thing that I promise I'll stop is, think about which channel it's going to go on, and what the kind of conversation is on there. For the most part, things are similar, but there are subtle nuances that just don't work on certain channels. So really keep that in mind. And if you can tweak content accordingly, that massively helps. So just as an example, we had something talking about listening to a friend can be really good for both your mental health and theirs. Whereas on LinkedIn, you might change it to listening to a colleague, I mean, that's a really simple example. But the more you can do that sort of thing, the better.

 

Graham  12:58

With everybody kind of shifting towards a content drive and everybody wanting to put more content out, how important is it that that content generate some sort of value to the audience, right? Because there's a lot of noise.

 

Will Bonaddio  13:10

Yeah

 

Graham  13:10

And we're all guilty of just putting something out because we feel like we have a shedule and we have to put something out?

 

Will Bonaddio  13:15

Yes.

 

Graham  13:16

Ultimately, all you're doing is creating an audience that are blind to a feed on Facebook of just stuff that no one cares about. And then it becomes very difficult to get your really important piece noticed, because it's surrounded by trash from other people. So I would assume that everyone who works in social media, or certainly works in content production should be striving to produce something that genuinely adds value to the audience.

 

Will Bonaddio  13:39

Yes, 100%. And what does that value look like? There's a big focus on community at the moment, building a community of brand advocates and people who will almost do half the job for you of promoting your brand to their peers, and not just kind of broadcasting a message to your followers, but talking to them and getting them to talk to each other. Sometimes they'll be talking about your brands, a lot of times they won't. So I think that's the gold standard that we're all trying to get from social media. If you just want to talk at people, then yeah, by press ads, get a billboard or just run paid ads, or just say, you know, here it is kind of buy it. And I think there's still, this is the thing, like I'm sure CEOs listening to this will be like, well, that's what I'm interested in, I'm not interested in having a conversation, I'm interested selling products. And I get that and that's totally fine. Like, let's not beat around the bush with that. But with social, that's not really what it's about. And that's not what best in class social is. So generally speaking, you want to do about 80% of the jabs, the fun, interesting, remarkable, conversation starting content, and then about 20% your right hook, which is come in and buy this thing now. Because you know, you've built up this understanding of who we are as a brand and what we're about. And now we're really excited to tell you about this thing. And I think the more interesting ways that you can do that, the better. You know, it doesn't always just have to be a picture of a hamburger. You know, we did content around spicy nuggets where we pretended that it was like a fashion drop. You know, we had models like wearing spicy nuggets clothing, which you could win, but you know, that's generating conversation around spicy nuggets. That was the big thing. Don't get me wrong though, we still had further down the funnel, literally a picture of a nugget in someone's hand kinda saying, like, come in and buy this now. But I think generally speaking, take a look over your old posts and what you've done over the past month and kind of ask yourself how much of this was just pushing a sales message or something that's not really adding value. And really, you want that to be 20% or less. And if it's not adding value, you ideally want to get rid of it, look at what your content pillars are, look at what your strategy is test, test loads, look at the analytics to see what's working. And ideally, you should get to a point where instead of posting five times a day, or whatever it is, you can actually post a few times a week knowing that each time is going to be gold.

 

Shelley  15:50

That was part one of 15 minutes with Will Bonaddio, social media expert. So Will will be joining us again for a second episode because we have so much good stuff to talk to him about. So that was part one, social strategy based on scale, content, personality, pillars, celebrity voices, business benefit and cases with respects to value and paid advertising. To everybody listening. See you next time.


Eclipse Achieves SAP® Gold Partner Status

It brings us great pleasure to announce that Eclipse has been achieved SAP® Gold partner status in the SAP® PartnerEdge® program. This is an awesome achievement and clear indication of the high level of quality that we at Eclipse provide to our clients within the world of SAP solutions. 

SAP® PartnerEdge® Gold Partners are performing at a high level across their entire business and illustrate a strong commitment to delivering business value to their clients. SAP® allocate points for competency and strategic alignment and partners are evaluated on a yearly basis and cannot achieve gold status on business performance or size of customer base alone. 

 

 

“Moving to Gold status is proof of the successful partnership we have with SAP®, a company that we work with creating future-proof solutions for our clients. It means a lot to us not just because it shows clients how strong our SAP® practice is, but there are also many benefits to being a Gold Partner, and those will benefit our present and future clients.” 

Perm Ghattaura | Sales and Marketing Director | Eclipse 

 

As an SAP® partner, Eclipse has access to tools, training, resources, and benefits to deliver the solutions and services that clients demand. The SAP® PartnerEdge program provides the enablement tools, benefits, and support to facilitate building high-quality, customer experience focused solutions that any business of today needs – quickly and cost-effectively.

  

"It is a testament to your hard work, dedication and a real go and drive you guys have that has got you to this status. [We have] Thoroughly enjoyed working with you [and look forward to] the continued success for 2022 and beyond!"

Paul Walter | Partner Business Manager | SAP® UK & Ireland 

 

If you’d like to find out how Eclipse and SAP® can help your business succeed in 2022, reach out to us via our contact form and we’ll get right back to you. There’s not much that can’t be solved with a few cups of tea, some bright people and a (currently virtual) whiteboard. 


15 Minutes With Kat Henry | Podcast Episode #2

What makes an influencer? How is influencing changing? What are the common misconceptions, pitfalls and goals of influencing? On our second episode of 15 Minutes With we speak to Instagram Influencer, Public Figure and current Ms Great Britain Kat Henry on all things Influencer Marketing.

Interested in learning more from Kat? Connect with her on Instagram. And if you're looking for the link to the report by Namogoo, The 2022 Annual Global Ecommerce Leaders Survey, we mentioned in the episode, it can be found right here.

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Graham  00:14

In a recent survey of over 200 global ecommerce leaders, it was found that more than half had highlighted social media influencers as a preferred promotional channel for 2022. So to give us a peek behind the curtain on today's episode of 15 minutes with we've got social media influencer and current Ms Great Britain Kat Henry joining us. Kats experience in the world of influencer marketing gives us a unique insight from the other side of the coin. An established and professional influencer on TikTok and Instagram, Kat has a devoted following of 10s of 1000s of loving fans, being an influencer is not plain sailing. And the realities of COVID have changed the face of social selling in a variety of ways. So how can brands and influencers work together in this new landscape? Kat talks us through the influencer world from her perspective.

 

Shelley  01:01

So Kat what makes an influencer?

 

Kat Henry  01:04

To me, I think that anybody within the social media world has a level of influence, especially people that are using their own personal platforms to influence other people to either purchase something or speak out about a topic or just kind of use their own voice to elevate another person's voice. So I think for me, an influencer is somebody who can use their own personal skills to either upsell a product or who can sell a product or make a positive change within society.

 

Shelley  01:35

And how has COVID changed the influencer space? In your experience?

 

Kat Henry  01:40

I think it's definitely changed the way that influencers create content. I think that forcing us all to be at home put us in a position where we had to be a little bit more intuitive in how we put our content out there and how we actually provide engaging content when we're all stuck in our jammies and not really doing anything. I think it kind of did open the market for loungewear and pyjamas, a lot of home improvements, I think that kind of that kind of market definitely probably thrived throughout the lockdown. So I guess the types of things that are actually being, you know, advertised throughout lockdown was different.

 

Shelley  02:19

Everyone was stuck at home, right? And ecommerce went through the roof because everyone was buying stuff online and getting it delivered to the door. And as a result of that, I think a lot of people seeing other influencers, like you said, being able to wear pyjamas and having the lounge as the backdrop was sort of empowered to give influencer marketing a go themselves. But for established influencers, it was very, very difficult because it was almost like this expectation that you'd always have these amazing settings behind you one week, you're in Tahiti and the next year in Dubai. But how do you how do you do that when you're stuck at home?

 

Kat Henry  02:50

Yeah, I think it definitely did put a lot of pressure on people who are existing influencers, because you know, not everybody has the ability to have a beautiful backdrop we were as influencers, we were really discouraged from doing things, especially in the fashion industry for using like the mirror selfie, because it wasn't really an engaging piece of content, it wasn't high level quality content, that people would look at that picture on the grid and be like, Wow, I want to click it, I want to, you know, like it, share it. But actually, when you're stuck at home, you have no choice but not everybody has a tripod and or somebody who can take their photos for them. So your mirror selfie became your best friend. And that's how the content grew over the last two years, it was literally people taking pictures using the self timer on their phone or standing in front of a mirror and taking the best photo that they can. I also think that you know, it kind of lays pathways to putting a lot of pressure on influencers because not everybody has good surroundings. I mean, you know, I live in a flat. So for me finding spaces within my you know, four walls is very difficult to find, you know, picturesque beautiful images,  you have to be intuitive and you have to think, okay, outside the box, how can I make this look engaging. And I think after about two months of struggling to find various different two places within my home, I got to a point where I've just realised that this is more relatable if I just tell the truth and be honest about it and say like, this is my bedroom, guys, this is what you get. That's all good. And actually I think more people started doing that, because they realised that life is too short to give a monkey's about how the backdrop looks.

 

Graham  04:19

And did you see from an audience point of view, kind of an uptick in engagement during the pandemic? Because presumably, well, the assumption would be that everybody was stuck at home using lots of social media all the time, or was that kind of counterbalanced by the fact that there were just so many other people doing the same thing that actually any increase in engagement activity was kind of dispersed between the existing influencers, and anybody new that came along?

 

Kat Henry  04:43

Definitely the latter. I don't think there was a specific spike in terms of engagement. I think that if I posted about certain topics, or certain levels of creation definitely got more engagement, actually, the more relatable stuff, where you're saying, you know, like I've had COVID or, you know, I actually lost my mom to COVID and that actually was probably my most engaging content because people found it relatable, those sorts of things actually thrived. Whereas the more glam pictures of me looking like a pageant queen or being a high fashion model or anything like that, that wasn't really thriving, because people didn't see that represented in day to day life. So actually, the level of content was different. And also, you know, the the amount of engagement that came from relatable content went up. But in terms of actual overall, I think what you said Graham towards the fact that there was so much going on, I actually felt like I was perhaps muted in various different scenarios, because I wasn't getting the level of exposure that I had been because there were lots more people doing it.

 

Graham  05:37

And one thing that I noticed that was quite interesting, it was probably in the middle of the pandemic, I would say, LGBTQIA community, there are a lot of influencers. I'm a member of the community, so live proud, but also portray a lifestyle of excess and putting the influencer on a pedestal look at my life, I want you to want to replicate it. And people started breaching COVID recommendations to be able to produce content. So there were people that travelled to parts of Greece or Spain to be at these gatherings. And actually, what happened is there was a massive backlash against that by the community, because they were seen as irresponsible. And as a result, posts started disappearing, and people started to kind of hide from what they were doing. And all this activity was kind of downplayed. Yeah, it's just it's interesting that, like you say, the stuff that you saw most positive effects on were the things that everybody was kind of going through or could get in touch with. And as soon as this aspirational content was put in front of people, it wasn't seen as I wish I was doing that it was seen as Why are you being so irresponsible, and it kind of people not listening to what's going on in the world. And the fact that the audience are a lot more savvy than they used to be.

 

Kat Henry  06:45

I think a lot of people, if they saw a picture of like me, personally, if I was to put a picture up of me in a bathing suit, I felt like I had to make a real real point of making it very, very known that this is a throwback, guys like I'm at home in my jammies. And I wish I was on a beach somewhere. And that in itself became relatable, because people were like, Yeah, I also wish I was on a beach somewhere. But we're stuck at home too. And three of my family members have COVID. And therefore, you know, we're in the same boat as you it's finding that balance and being honest and totally transparent with your viewers and your followers. Because actually, authenticity is what is the key here. And there's a level of filtering your life and adding filters to make it look better that actually reality will win all the time. It always will. And honesty is and integrity in this life has to be paramount.

 

Shelley  07:34

I find that really, really refreshing to hear. And I'm so glad that you said that Kat and that your experience is actually showing that for you. Reality is doing so much better, even content wise. And message wise, compared to overindulgence, I guess, in the sense of, oh, look where I am. And look what I'm doing, particularly over the past two years, when actually people can relate to struggle. And actually, they want to see other people not necessarily struggling, but they want to see people that they can relate to. They don't want to look at influencers and just go okay, they're just living this this life that isn't even aspirational for me at the moment, while I'm locked down. So with all of that in mind, how do you choose which brands to actually work with?

 

Kat Henry  08:16

For me, I think company ethos is really important, and how that they portrayed themselves on social media, and what sort of level of you know, responsibility and standing they have within the community. I think that those sorts of things play a huge part to me, because I would never take on collaboration that I didn't wholeheartedly believe in, I am not going to sell a product that doesn't align or attune with my own personal ethos. And I wouldn't also sign up to a campaign if I didn't wholeheartedly believe in what he was trying to portray. I think it's really important that businesses and brands are open and transparent about their their own business ethos. And when engaging with collaborators to actually be honest and transparent in what you're trying to portray with your campaign. And actually look for people that attune to that that ethos, rather than just picking the first person that you see, when you open up the Instagram. It's not necessarily about who's trending, it may actually be about who is the most relatable, or who's the best person to sell your product. That's essentially what we should be doing now is looking for the right fit, you wouldn't put somebody into a job role if they weren't the right person for the job role trying to grow or develop your business. So why would you not want the best person to help sell your product, and that best person might not be the person with the highest level of engagement or the most likes on Instagram, they may actually be the person that is a really, really sound background in what you're trying to sell. So yeah, I think research is really really important from a brand perspective to understand who they're looking for. What that influencer delivers, what their own personal ethos is and hope that they both collaborate in the middle on more than just money. It should just be also about how they believe in the product and actually making sure they're the right fit for it.

 

Graham  10:00

So once you've you've picked the brand that you want to work with, or the brand has picked you, I guess. How do you go about building trust between your established audience, the people that you've built over time with this new brand that they're being introduced to, presumably, if you're working with a brand multiple times, it makes it a bit easier? Because it's not the first time they're seeing it. But how do you introduce this promotion to your audience, and build trust between the two, so that you don't, one,  put your audience at jeopardy, I guess, or kind of under deliver for the brand based on potentially what you've told them, you're able to able to do for them?

 

Kat Henry  10:42

Yeah, I pride myself on being able to negotiate from the outset of engagement when you start working with the brand as to what you can actually deliver. And being honest, and you know, sticking by your word, if you can't produce something, don't offer it, I would never want to over promise and under deliver, that's not something that I think anybody should aspire to want to do. But also be realistic with your own personal time, with your ability and your you know, you don't promise that you can produce, you know, high level quality drone effect, you know, footage, if you've got a hand cam, and you know, nobody else to help you produce it, you know, don't do that. Be honest in what you can provide. And actually a lot of brands would would prefer the honesty and the, you know, the ability to turn around and say, Okay, well, if that's all you can produce, then maybe I need to look elsewhere. Because there might be 10 other people that could produce that level of content that I haven't tapped up yet. But because you've got a really high level of engagement, that might be who they pick, when you're asking about how do you maintain that relationship with your with new audiences, I will never lie about product. If it's a rubbish product, I'm going to take that feedback, I'm going to take it back to the brand without posting anything on social media. Because actually, I think it's really, really important that if a product is not sound, that you feed that back to the company, so they have the ability to fix it before you take that negativity and put it out into the into the social sphere. Because actually, that damning review is not going to build trust in either you as a personal brand, or to your audience. Influencers have a huge responsibility to be honest,

 

Shelley  12:23

We've talked about how you've managed these relationships with brands. And we've talked about the changing landscape as a result of COVID as a result of all these new influencers sort of flooding the market, but also in terms of new platforms. So you were a really early adopter of TikTok, and I've personally seen seeing you on TikTok advertising, which is amazing. By the way, it looks it looked incredible. And so I just wanted to ask you, do you have any other sort of tips, insights, advice on this, any part of these topics of influencer marketing that we haven't covered that you think would be interesting, or relevant for people.

 

Kat Henry  13:03

I have probably a couple for each, but I'll go with from the brand perspective, don't just go with the people that you think are the highest level of engagement, do your research, find out who is who is the best person aligned for what you are looking for, and tap up, don't be afraid to tap up other people within the industry, because they may be a very, very valuable tool for you. But also, don't just go down the tokenism thing like you know, just because you are you understand that being woke in today's society is important. Don't just tap up, you know, the high level influencers who are from the BAME community, drill down a little further, do do the research, because I think it is really, really important. And I kind of understand why you just look at engagement, I get it. But it's not always the key. And it's not always the be all and end all and from an influencers perspective, don't be afraid to shoot your shot, you know, go out there, promote yourself in the best way possible. Send those brand emails, you know, I'm not a huge lover of all of the, you know, follow this strategy sort of thing. Like I take tips from the from the YouTubers and stuff as to how I can increase my content engagement and stuff like that. But essentially, find your niche, find what works for you. And don't be afraid to put yourself out there for every 10 no's there's going to be one yes. So keep going and remain resilient. And from the perspective of trolls, because we didn't touch on it really I think that you know, if you're putting I'm very, very grateful that in the seven years that I've been doing social media, I can probably count on my hands, the amount of times that I've had negativity thrown my way on my own personal platform. And that is because my platform is a safe space for me to sell products without asking for people's opinions. And I pride myself very, very highly in the fact that when I promote a product Whether it be an item of clothing or a makeup product or a hair product, you're saying, this is the product that I'm selling. And if you like it, here's how you can buy it. I'm not asking you as the person who scrolling through Instagram to weigh in with an opinion on my products. And the minute you ask people, What does this look like? you're opening up the gateway for people to offer their opinion. From the influencers perspective, stop asking those questions if you are becoming an influencer, because you want validation, or you're becoming an influencer, because you want free clothes, you're in it for the wrong reasons. If you're doing it, because you know, you can use your skills, your life skills to promote a brand, then you're in the right place. But I also think that empowering other people is really key. And you know, if you see somebody in the industry that's doing well elevate them share their content, because essentially sharing each other's content engaging with each other's content is how we grow.

 

Shelley  15:57

Love it. Absolutely. Love it. Thank you so so much your time Kat that was just it was so insightful.

 

Graham  16:04

Yeah, thank you. It's good to have this insight. Because, you know, as that report points out, there's so many people that are wanting to now take a huge part of their marketing budget and put it into into social media influencers, but I suspect the large majority of those people don't actually understand what they're about to do. So the information that you've given them will lead them on the right path to success. So yeah,

 

Shelley  16:25

Steering them in the right direction.

 

Graham  16:27

Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for your time.  That was social media influencer current Ms Great Britain, Kat Henry. Her insights as a social media influencer have been invaluable. And the key to making a success for both brands and influencers is to remain authentic, transparent and genuine with their audiences. We also need to be hyper aware of what's going on in the world, and ensure that we adjust our messaging to match the reality. If you'd like to download a copy of the report, you'll be able to find a link of it on our Insights section of our website. Thank you for joining us for this episode of 15 minutes with and we look forward to having you join us on our next one.


15 Minutes With Alan Gray | Podcast Episode #1

In our first episode of 15 Minutes With we're talking to Research Psychologist from Tailify, Alan Gray. In the episode we talk through his research on laughter and self disclosure and their effect on behaviour as well as how it can be used to develop relationships and be used by influencers and those delivering a marketing message.

You can find out more about Alan and his research over at his website, Gray Area.

Ways to Listen

You can listen to it right here on the blog using the player below or you can head over to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or Amazon Music where you can subscribe or follow the podcast too, so that you never miss an episode. You can also check out the podcast website to find the other apps our podcast is published on.

 

 

Want to be featured on the Podcast?

We're always looking for new industry experts to speak to and if you think you've got some great insights that you'd like to share with our audience, reach out to us via our contact page and we'll get back to you to arrange an intro call.

 

Transcript

Shelley  00:13

Is the simple act of laughing enough to win others over? Today, research psychologist Alan Gray is joining us on 15 minutes with. Alan's research interests are in the unique fields of laughter and self disclosure and their effects on behaviour. As part of the research team at Tailify, Alan is involved in optimising influencer marketing strategies. And interestingly, some of the work Alan has published would show that the world of laughter and the world of business have quite a bit more overlap than you might expect. It would seem that the simple act of laughing is enough to win others over.  Hi, Alan, welcome to the podcast. Thanks so much for joining us.

Alan Gray  00:52

Hey, thanks for having me.

Shelley  00:53

How are you doing today?

Alan Gray  00:54

I'm good. Yeah, it's a nice a nice day.

Shelley  00:56

So why laughter? Why did laughter appeal in terms of your research,

Alan Gray  01:01

So I guess I was interested first, and laughter the University of Oxford, and I guess it was just, if you watch people interact with one another for any period of time, you'll find that they laugh a lot. And what they seem to laugh at is not necessarily jokes, they just seem to laugh because they're around one another. And this was instantly interesting to me as a behaviour that is common and this frequent, you know, must serve a great purpose. And yet social psychologists barely investigated that felt like a field that was wide open.

Shelley  01:29

And so your research in this in this area of laughter? Was it really sort of, like you were talking about the social sciences in terms of behaviour based? Or did you dive deeper and look at what happened, cognitively. And what happens in the brain, when, when people laugh when they're exposed to laughter?

Alan Gray  01:46

Well, there's been a bit of an explosion of research into laughter at this point now, so they have produced various different neuro imaging studies of what happens in the brain when we laugh, and so on. But my interest was in the social psychology side, and it was trying to understand if laughter is so closely related to relationship development, might it be linked to other elements of relationship progression. So I was looking to see if it was associated with self disclosure, the amount of intimate information we reveal to another person. Social psychologists have found this to be strongly linked to liking and relationship development. So I assumed if, if this is integral for relationship, building and bonds, then it might be linked to laughter.

Shelley  02:28

Completely. It's so so interesting. And so what did what did you find? What were your top key findings and your research?

Alan Gray  02:33

Yeah, so I kind of, I mean, discovery is that laughter. People tend to think of it as something very positive and uplifting, and everyone seeks out someone who's a comedian, and so on, and their relationships and romance, but in my research suggests that it might well be something quite dark. So self disclosure is typically an exchange of information between two people, you know, I tell you something personal about me. And you return the favour by sending me personal about you, that's slightly risky, because that whenever I tell you something about me, I'm making myself vulnerable, you could use that information against me, you could exploit me somehow. So if I could get out of this exchange, if I could bypass that deal, and make you tell me everything without having to tell you a thing at all, you know, I'd be one up. So my work looked into how laughter and the act of laughing might increase the likelihood that you will reveal things about yourself without really expecting that in return, and not really feeling like you had said that much. When it comes to how vulnerable you'd you'd spoken about.

Graham  03:32

It puts people at ease really quickly without realising that they're in that situation. Yeah, that is interesting, because I'm just thinking about that myself now, actually. And you'll I laugh at anything. I'm terrible. Like, I find everything funny. And actually, one of the things I was wondering is, you know, is there a noticeable difference between like, genuine laughter like big belly laughs, and like nervous laughter because I feel like sometimes a lot of what I do is nervous laughter because it's, you know, it's the polite thing to do, because society has kind of adapted towards, you should laugh at this point, because someone's kind of said something funny.

Shelley  04:05

Filling the empty space, so yeah,

Graham  04:07

Yeah exactly. I'm not a fan of silence I don't like it. If I could fill the silence with a laugh or giggle or something, I kind of do that. I guess. It must be somewhat critical to humans kind of forming bonds, right? That is, is that way it kind of doesn't help speed the process along?

Alan Gray  04:27

And yes, there's been quite a lot of research into genuine and and fake laughter. Then the literature the call duchenne laughter and non duchenne laughter, voluntary and involuntary laughs and there are different acoustic properties from those laughs. So, when we're laughing involuntarily, we tend to have loud early bursts and we tend to have a repetitive cycle of laughs and that the go on for quite some time, much longer than a feigned laughter does. So there are acoustic differences here, but more interestingly, people can generally generally very easily detect the difference between fake and genuine laughter and in an fMRI scanner, we seem to process genuine and fake laughs differently to so when we hear a genuine laugh, we process that emotionally, emotional regions of the brain are active and make law and so on. When we hear a fake laugh, we might not necessarily know this, but we start trying to understand why that person laughed, we see it as a kind of problem. And the parts of the brain that are active are usually the frontal regions that are involved in problem solving. So it looks like we approach the sound of genuine fit laughter very differently.

Shelley  05:34

If we sort of extrapolate that idea, and what we've what you've just sort of discussed about bonding and the self disclosure element to it, how does that fit in to digital life?

Alan Gray  05:47

Well, you know, texting, lol, and hahaha, and so on, it's not really going to get these effects because you know, doing that it's not going to produce the physiological release of laughter. So I don't expect that kind of laughter to be, in fact, we rarely laugh when we're alone. So if you're receiving a text message that, you know, is a joke, the likelihood that we're laughter that if we're just receiving that alone will be low. So I don't really think that is so linked to this. But when it comes to the world of influencers, you know, we are in a relationship with them, essentially. And we're watching them online, we're sitting, sometimes we might even watch the video together, or we might see influencers that we truly identify with laughing on screen. And when we really identify with someone, if you say someone is hilarious, what you're saying is, I like them, you're not saying that they're funny. That's how we express liking by laughing.

Shelley  06:40

And so what you're saying is actually in the world of influencer marketing, laughter is a crucial element to who you actually choose to follow and continue to follow.

Alan Gray  06:51

It's a it's a part of expressing your identifying with someone and liking that person. And it's also because of the way that laughter affects us physiologically through endorphin release, it can kind of lull us into a sense of credulity. So we can be more inclined to believe what we're being told is true and less inclined to question that we're not in a defensive mode, when we laugh, we're suddenly very relaxed, and we're very accepting. So it can increase the likelihood that the promoters message is truly heard.

Shelley  07:21

Ah, so it's a sales tool, in a sense, you can actually break down barriers, communicate to build an audience more easily communicate to that audience more easily, and actively open the lines to sales a bit more.

Alan Gray  07:34

Yeah, I think it will increase the likelihood that you'll go ahead with the purchasing decision since the main reason and influence marketing. It's not just like, it's not just like a traditional billboard of grabbing people's attention. It's about gaining people's trust, and having them identify with you. That is what drives the purchasing decision. So laughter if we know that it's linked to self disclosure, we know that it's linked to trust and relationship formation, it's going to be a part of what drives the purchasing decision in influencer marketing.

Shelley  08:01

Definitely. So it's part of that overall experience. And so if we tie that in with the self disclosure element of say, influencers, social influencers, who we're trying to sell, represent something in particular, how does the self disclosure element tie in with the laughter side of things?

Alan Gray  08:23

So if we laugh, because we might be more likely, after laughing, we're more likely to reveal information about ourselves? Well, we can imagine the following might be more likely to comment on the video. And comments have been shown to be associated with purchasing decisions, because we feel like we've invested somehow in this video with the influencers themselves, since we know that we tend to like those who disclose to us. If the influencers laughing and therefore are more likely to disclose, they'll tell us more things about themselves. And we like people who reveal themselves to us. There are many reasons for this. One is that people who we've just encountered are somewhat threatening, we don't know, we don't know them, so we can't predict them. We like people to be somewhat familiar, we'd like to know things about them, so we can understand them and judge their actions. So the more someone tells us about themselves, the easier they are to be around because we kind of have an implicit model of how they might behave. So self disclosure can help us like a person.

Shelley  09:21

Definitely. And I think, you know, when you look at sort of earlier influencers before it really blew up online and on social media, like Keeping Up With The Kardashians, you know, traditionally on television, you know, you can actually start to feel like, you know, these people, when actually, you know, is a very one directional relationship in that sense, but you're right, when you look at sort of the comments of these kinds of influencers, the people that follow them, follow them actually feel like they're part of their lives to a degree. And I mean, how that feeds into the whole sales model, I guess at the end is imagine the insights that these that these influencers have on their own following, they must know so much about them because they are themselves self disclosing so much so much of their own lives and their own likes and dislikes. And I just find it super interesting.

Alan Gray  10:13

Also, you know, one of the reasons why we choose not to stop disclosures because of cultural norms around disclosure. So men and women disclose differently because stereotypes around, you know, women are expected to disclose more and sooner relationship than men. That's a stereotype. But it's one of the kind of rules that people follow. In the influencer world, there seems to be a new norm emerging of excessive disclosure. Disclosure is a thing that people do a lot. And it's more acceptable for an influencer to reveal very intimate things very quickly than what it is, you know, anyone else in day to day life. So it seems to be a new culture emerging in influencer marketing that promotes this.

Shelley  10:58

And you think that is to build, you know, such a tight relationship with the following with their followers, because obviously, they don't know them in person. So you have to feel connected in another way. And it has to you have to to build that level of intimate intimacy, I guess. And that's, that's a good way to, instead of a one to one relationship, have the same thing or the same depth, but on a one to many basis.

Alan Gray 11:21

Yeah, I think it's speeding up the process of relationship development, there's always the risk with self disclosure, that you might disclose what was taken to be too much too soon, and therefore come across as maladjusted and somewhere and therefore less likeable. So you've got to kind of judge what is the what is the appropriate amount of disclosure in this particular moment in this particular context. And changing those norms in the way that influencers have done might be a way of bypassing that and increasing the likelihood that they can reveal a lot more intimate information a lot sooner in the relationship.

Graham  11:50

And presumably, from a brand's point of view, they have to do a whole level of research, right to be able to make sure that because it might seem like the easiest thing to do is go for the influencer that has the most perceived power, either through the largest following or, you know, through their ability to attract numbers of people, if they're not brand aligned in terms of sentiment, or you know, they live to the same values, I guess potentially there's a detrimental effect that the brand can have on itself without even realising it's doing that.

Alan Gray  12:19

A lot of people when they're trying to understand what makes a good influencer, have looked to the available metrics of, you know, the number of likes you've got, how many followers you have, what's your audience size, and, you know, what's your Google search optimization and so on. But we're starting to discover that those things aren't necessarily good at predicting your return on investment for the brand. And what Tailify are doing now is to venture into psychometrics to try and understand if the various psychological predictors of relationship development can shed some light into why some influencers perform better than others. Self disclosure is one of them, laughter is another.

Graham  12:54

Can a brand build the same level of trust with an individual as an as an individual can I guess, is that why influencers are as important as they are to this process? Because a brand just can't do the same thing?

Alan Gray  13:07

Yeah, I think the real breakthrough with influencer marketing is an influencer can stand in for a brand, they can embody a brand and make that brand, truly a human being, in a way.

Shelley  13:18

In your role at Tailify and with respect to influencer marketing, which is the space that you operate in, do you have from what we've just talked about everything from, you know, the laughter piece, the self disclosure piece, any tips for people listening that is relevant to them, whether it's selecting an influencer, or whether it's being an influencer, or even deciding whether they go down that route, anything that you think could be helpful for people to know or to be able to apply? Or insights that could be actionable, I guess.

Alan Gray  13:54

So I think a lot of the time, when people are selecting influences, they tend to shy away from having the influencer use comedy when discussing the product or the brand, they're totally fine with the influencer joking about everything else. But when it comes to the product, the brand, you know, just deliver the lines and the influencers themselves, are also quite nervous about this. They want to be paid and they want to do the job that they've been assigned. I would advise the brand, permit that more and give them permission to joke even when discussing the brand or the product, because we know that humour draws our attention. And we remember that kind of content more. So if we have a bias and memory and an attention for humorous content. And then the brand and product comes along and it's stone cold and bland. What are we going to remember, what are we going to pay attention to? It's exactly it's also going to defeat the purpose for the influencer because they want to come across as authentic and sincere. And if all of a sudden the moment they start talking about the product, they lose all of that that isn't going to do them any favours and their followers will fall over.

Shelley  14:55

And I think we've all been familiar in seeing those those exact kind of messages. The sponsored content and it stands out like a sore thumb. And you're right, it comes down to I guess, brands being so particular over what they want that message to be because they've paid for that slot, so they want to make the most of it, that actually they've completely micromanage the process and defeated the whole point of tapping into this audience that really, really trust this influencer. And so I think that's really interesting. Thank you for that insight. If people have brands can actually take that on board and go, if we're, if we're working alongside this influencer, to deliver a message, let's relax a little bit and see what their take on it is, and how they can deliver that message to the audience in a way that the audience is already comfortable and familiar with.

Alan Gray  15:39

And I think I would also recommend that the influencers themselves try to collaborate a little bit more on their videos, try to get their friends and family and you know, interact with other influencers. Because we know that when you're in company, you'll probably laugh more, you'll probably feel more relaxed, you'll do all the things naturally, that we know are good indicators of success, and people will like you for it.

Graham  16:03

Thank you for your time. You know, it's been super, super interesting. And I'm sure we will definitely be having you back. Because there's bound to be a whole bunch of questions that come from people who listened to this. And as much as Shelley and I can attempt to answer them, we're by no means the experts. So probably best send the questions back to Alan and he can come back on and answer them for us, which would be awesome.

Shelley  16:25

Alan, thank you so so much for your time. It was so interesting to speak with you. And like Graham said I know that there are going to be so many questions off the back of this that I'm sure we will have you again soon just to to be able to dive even deeper into this whole conversation.

Alan Gray  16:40

Thanks a lot. I'm really glad that you guys had me on it was great.

Shelley  16:43

That was Alan Gray research psychologist with Tailify explaining how laughter and self disclosure impact relationship building within both in person and digital exchanges. If you want to find out more you can contact Alan at Tailify to find out how this evolution in behavioural science is being applied to digital experiences and strategy. Thank you, Alan, we cannot wait until our next chat and to everybody listening, see you next time.