“The social revolution is a trust revolution.” – Marc Benioff
I was recently thinking back to these words that Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff delivered during his keynote at Dreamforce. The applications of his statement ripple throughout today’s marketplace. While what is happening today is revolutionary in scale and promise, the actual interactions themselves are more evolutionary.
Social is the descendant of many parents: digital, interactive, word-of-mouth, the list goes on and on…
It combines and re-imagines (with the help of countless engineers, executives, product visionaries and venture capital dollars) the best of these marketing tools. And, in doing so, introduces a few new tricks of its own for advertisers to utilize.
Each of these innovations is accompanied by companies which redefine the potential for brands and agencies:
Newsfeed with an endless scroll = Sharethrough*
Democratized audience aggregation / distribution = Niche**
Reviews = BazaarVoice*
All of the above cater to marketers accessing consumers accessing content. All are closely related but with one difference: Reviews are word-of-mouth; the others are adjacent.
People are also increasingly inclined to share both positive and negative experiences across both their personal (social) and anonymous (Amazon, Yelp, etc.) networks. As Mark Zuckerberg noted in an interview with Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, “It’s a sort of social networking version of Moore’s Law. We expect this rate [of sharing] will double every year. … So in 10 years from now, people will be sharing about 1,000 times as many things as they do today.”
As a result the ecosystem reverberates with ever-growing network effects for people to share, inform and influence one another about brand choices — not just purchase, but brand image — made even more powerful by technology platforms and connected devices. Smart brands know how to lean into this consumer behavior — helping them access the info they need, even when it’s negative — because it ultimately drives purchases and longer term brand affinity.
But while consumers increasingly turn to online reviews, they also question the validity and integrity of reviews on retailer, brand, and recommendation websites such as Yelp, CitySearch and TripAdvisor, particularly when the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. Marketers need to get ahead of this trend, and be more engaged in the dialogue.
When marketers and their media partners cannot come together on policing online issues, the government is more than willing to do it for them. The industry’s inability to cooperate on the issue of privacy (another piece of the Trust Revolution equation) paved the way for Senator Jay Rockefeller’s introduction (and re-introduction) of a Do Not Track Act.
Proactive cooperation on the trust issue can avoid that fate. Marketers can deploy verification tools designed to ensure that trust works to bolster brand affinity, advocacy and purchase across the consumer cycle, such as Bazaarvoice’s industry-first Authentic Reviews Trust Mark, aligned to the FTC’s endorsement guidelines for social content.
This, then, is the trust revolution –
Brands don’t just speak, they listen.
Consumers don’t just speak with their dollars, they speak all the time – and they have distribution for their opinions
Word-of-mouth isn’t new—but now it’s on Red Bull.