Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Highlights from Simon Salt's "Conversing with Consumers"

Last week, Simon Salt (@incslinger) spoke at the Greater Ft. Worth Chapter of PRSA April luncheon with his presentation, "Conversing with Consumers." He covered the types of conversations that consumers are already having about your brand, plus how you can join in and more importantly, when it's appropriate. These are the highlights:

The social consumer has a much larger network from which to gather advice/guidance for purchases. The old sales paradigm was relatively simple: your brand has product(s)/service(s) and you exchange those for money. The new sales paradigm includes social capital. Simon explained that the social consumer expects more from the exchange. They want a way to accrue goodwill from a brand and be rewarded for leveraging their network.

You need to know where they are sharing
Salt reaffirmed the reality that social media is not the silver bullet or the center of the universe. Social consumers share IRL (in real life); face-to-face, over the phone, etc. Are they using social media tools? Yes, of course. But bear in mind the influence is still very much a relational activity. Using a grid of opportunity and engagement, Salt touched on mobile and brand property compared to face-to-face and social media for relevant reach.

He gave the stat that 70% of brands fail to respond to negative tweets and that if you'd do that small thing, you'd be outpacing much of the competition. He also is a proponent of leveraging Yelp with the caveat that customers don't know how to rate you. Rating are not the end of the conversation, just the beginning. (I think this could be an area for deep-dive for retailers, restaurants, and other service-industry types.)

You need to know why they share
"There are no wallflowers in social media," stated Salt on using social media to share all of the details of your day. "Your life isn't really that interesting." I think he's right since being an Internet celebrity often seems to be the name of the game for some especially those that go way overboard on the 'personal branding' kick. It goes back to having a motivation to improve social capital. He also said do not dismiss the fact that some people may be paid to bash your brand by other brands. (This concept seemed to shock some attendees.) Look for the sharer's deeper motivation.

On monitoring, Salt listed and touched on a few of his favorites like Google Alerts, Social Mention, Lithium, Viralheat, Radian6 and Visible Technologies. (Personally, I've been using BurrellesLuce Workflow with Engage121 for traditional media and social media monitoring and have kicked the tires on Meltwater.) Bottom-line for PR pros, you need to have ways to listen to the conversation, filter and respond appropriately.

At this point, Simon Salt shared a breakdown of the Conversation Triage likening it to emergency response color-coded tape for dealing with injuries:

RED - Critical; YELLOW - Urgent; GREEN - Non-Urgent; and BLACK - Non-responsive

I was particularly intrigued by this concept and asked him to explain it again after the meeting. Here's his response:

He gave some quick advice on what to do with typical interactions in social media. If you/your brand gets:
  • Praise - Say 'thank you'
  • Question - Route it to the appropriate person and respond as necessary
  • Complaint - Apologize
Simon gave a funny tongue-in-check response to the concept of viral: "The secret to getting something to go viral, piss people off."

--> Content strategy must be a part of the planning. <--

He shared some thoughts on working with influences and fans plus the idea of having brand advocates as defenders. They will defend your brand if you empower them.

Simon Salt closed with the three keys to giving your content greatest opportunity to spread:
  1. Make it Fun - Humor works. (Self-deprecating humor is best. Don't make fun of your customers.)
  2. Repeatable
  3. Shareable
His parting example was a Nike-inspired video. Trust me, it's awesome. You'll want to watch it. (The hashtag #makeitcount is also pretty neat. )
Attendees can get Simon Salt's slide deck here: incsl.gr/PRSAFW after submitting a name/email for follow-up and e-newsletter sign-up.

Photo credit: fragmented via Flickr Creative Commons