Here’s a rather ‘insightful’ look on the contentious subject of what makes a good insight. I particularly like the refrigerator analogy!
This amusing clip is quite unbelievable – it’s basically a guy called Phil Davison pitching for a political post in Stark County, USA but to be honest it feels more like a rallying cry before going into battle! You’ve got to admire his passion, enthusiasm and self-belief but unfortunately it’s this over-zealousness and his inability to read the room which ends up being his downfall.
So what’s the significance of posting it here on a marketing blog? Well in a lot of ways, selling yourself in a job interview is not too dissimilar to pitching your brand, product or service to prospective buyers. In fact for me this clip is a simple metaphor about how not to market your brand! At the end of the day, you’re not going to win the hearts and minds of your customers if you simply SHOUT AT THEM and insist on telling them how AMAZING you are.
And yet even in this day and age there are some brands who still demonstrate this very behaviour. They share exactly the same passion, enthusiasm and self-belief in their brand and products as Phil Davison – nothing wrong with that. But within this bubble of conviction lies a mistaken belief that there’s a receptive audience out there who are literally hanging on their every word, desperate to receive the next advert, corporate update or installment on the latest product launch. They’ll even invest millions in broadcast media or CRM programmes to ram the point home.
I’m not dissing broadcast media or CRM as these are the necessary tools of the trade to drive awareness, brand opinion and affinity. All I’m saying is that brands can’t rely purely on product benefits, broadcast media or communication frequency to generate sales. Just like an interviewee, we need to be able to read the room, understand what it is they’re looking for and tailor our response accordingly. In fact, the less shouting the better. At the end of the day we’ll enjoy a much higher success rate if we simply try to have an intelligent, one-to-one conversation.
Needless to say, Phil didn’t get the job!
Before a brand commits to any social media campaign, activity or platform it’s clearly essential to understand how their target audience behaves in these environments. For example, where is your target audience predominantly online? How active are they in this space? Are they the types of people who proactively share and contribute to the conversation or do they prefer to observe by the sidelines? Are they likely to invest time and energy in UGC or would such an invitation fall on deaf ears? What digital platforms are they most comfortable frequenting online? And what are the motivations and key drivers that lie behind their social media behaviour?
Unless one can answer these types of questions, there’s a fair chance your social media efforts could all be in vein. The good news, however, is that there are a number of sources, tools and frameworks available which can help us build a fairly informed picture of our target audience’s social media profile. And the best bit, most of them are completely free! Outlined below are the ones I’m most familiar with or have found to be most useful over the years. I’ve also restricted the list to tools which can be applied across Europe markets and not just the US.
1. The Global Web Index
The Global Web Index (Lite) is a nifty little free tool recently published by Trendstream to help you view the social media profiles of different online audiences across Europe. It’s based on a quantitatitive survey and manages to overlay social media behaviour and motivations by country, age and attitudinal profiles. The full version will have a lot more meat on the bones but for a quick snapshot this Lite version can be quite an insightful tool, particularly when comparing against different markets.
2. Universal McCanns Social Media Tracker
This in my view is the holy grail when it comes to tracking trends in social media from a global perspective. It’s been going a few years now and is an essential point of reference for anyone trying to identify behavioural trends in social media. There’s a free Silverlight-based tool here which is quite fancy but for usable insights and stats you really need to read the Wave 4 report . Considering it’s free, it’s absolute gold dust!
3. Forresters Social Technographics Tool
Forrester’s social technographics tool has been around for a while but is still a great way to map your target audience’s propensity to participate in social media. With this tool you can get a decent idea whether your audience over indexes for certain types of behaviour. So for example, if they over index as ‘creators’ there’s a fair chance they’d be receptive to getting involved in a crowdsourcing or UGC project. Conversely, if they’re predominently spectators and inactives, don’t even go there.
Unfortunately some European markets are not covered for some age profiles which I assume is because they don’t hold enough survey data.
4. Altimeter’s Engagement Pyramid
This isn’t a data analytical tool as far as I believe but rather a strategic framework to help map the different ways in which consumers engage in social media. I’ve reported on this before when it first came out as I liked its simplicity. Even though there’s no data to substantiate this, it’s good common sense and highlights the importance of socialgraphics to help inform social media strategies rather than simply relying on traditional demographic and psychographic profiles.
5. TMW’s Motivational Drivers to Social Media Participation
Understanding ‘how’ your target audience participates in social media is important but only one piece of the jigsaw. It’s also important to ask yourself ‘why’. At TMW, we conducted some research in conjunction with research agency ICM to help identify the motivations behind social media participation. We concluded there are 6 key motivational drivers for participating in this space.
- Discovery: for self-development or to learn from others
- Altruism: to help others make the right decision or become involved in the brand’s product decision
- Social: to connect to the like minded, reinforce tribal identity or gain a sense of belonging
- Fame: for personal notoriety or to challenge their ability against others
- Escapism: for entertainment and an escape from the daily routine
- Expression: as an outlet for their imagination or expression of personal identity
The interesting thing is that these motivations change according to different demographics. You can read some of insightful results from this study in a previous post here.
6. TGI Net Europa
Launched in September 2008, with new data released twice a year, TGI Net Europa combines the full TGI Europa database with extensive detailed information on internet behaviour and attitudes. This isn’t a free tool unfortunately so you may have to ask your media agency nicely if you can use it!
7. Social Media Statistics Compendium by econsultancy
The Social Media Statistics Compendium is one of the reports bundled with the eConsulancy’s Internet Statistics Compendium. It costs £250 on its own but is jam packed with useful stats on social media from a variety of third party sources.
If you want to understand the profile of Facebook users within your market and compare this to your target audience profile, it’s worth visiting Check facebook. It’s free too.
9. Nielson’s Global Faces & Networked Places Report – March 2009
Finally, Nielson’s Global Faces and Network Places report looks at the social media market as a whole but does have a useful section on how the audience is changing and starting to mature.
So there you have it – a mix of tools and approaches to help you build up a social media profile of your target audience. It’s not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination so if you know any more I may have missed feel free to add them below.
I thought this TED talk by Simon Sinek gives an interesting perspective into why certain brands or figureheads are able to sell more products or lead from the front, even though their competitors may be equally proficient in their respective fields. He introduces the simple concept of the Golden Circle:
- Outer circle: WHAT do they do? e.g. products, features, benefits, policies etc
- Middle circle: HOW do they do it? e.g. via technology, functionality, organisational structure, distribution channels, pricing, differentiating proposition, USP etc
- Inner circle: WHY do they do it? e.g. belief systems, sense of purpose, raison d’etre, core driving principles, motivational factors etc)
The key to success in his view is that brands like Apple or oratory leaders like Martin Luther King all start from the inner circle and work outwards. They all have a firm belief in why they do things. Apple for example, fundamentally believes in making things simple, easy to use and beautiful to look at. It’s this inner belief which drives the whole organisation and defines everything it does. So it doesn’t matter whether they produce computers, mp3 players, phones or tablets, you know the same core principles or values which you share or appreciate will always be applied.
Interestingly, it’s this belief which appeals to the reasoning cortex of the brain and ultimately connects consumers to brands or individuals on a more emotion level. The rational aspects such as features and benefits are simply the proof in the pudding and help to substantiate these beliefs. He agues that this is a far more effective approach to leadership, compared to what the majority do which is work from the outside-in – ie focus on communicating what they produce and how they do it to address a particular need or insight.
As with all models it’s an over-simplification which inevitably isn’t perfect. After all, from a marketing perspective we all know that insight-driven communications are far more effective than a product centric approach and he doesn’t really acknowledge this explicitly. Also the concept of brand essence has been around for a some time. I guess this is just a slightly different take on broadly the same idea. He’s not saying the ‘hows’ and the ‘whats’ are not important but rather that brands need to start from a central belief which consumers can readily identify and connect with, and then build everything up from that.
Implications for the agency pitch process
Whilst I think planners should familiarise themselves with the principles of the Golden Circle I also think new business professionals and agency heads could learn a thing or two from this too, especially when it comes to pitching. Let’s face it, how many times have you been in a pitch where you felt you answered the tender or brief perfectly and yet still failed to win the pitch? There are countless books which try to answer this question but it’s quite feasible that it wasn’t the quality of your work which knocked you off the top perch but rather another agency or supplier had a stronger belief system than you and actually stood for something which clearly resonated with the client.
Whether you’re a brand, an agency or canvassing to be the next Prime Minister, I think we all need to take a step back sometimes and do a bit of soul searching to figure out exactly what it is we stand for, to define what we believe in and to ask ourselves whether there’s a market out there which genuinely appreciates the same values. At the end of the day we need to get to that point where our prospective clients or customers intuitively believe in the same things we believe in. Get that right and you could be the next Steve Jobs!
(If you believe that, you’ll believe anything!!)
If you’re seriously wondering where mobile is going over the next few years then I’d recommend you check out this fascinating presentation. It’s essentially a collaborative effort where 45 mobile ‘experts’ provide their top 5 predictions.
And there I was thinking my iPhone was state-of-the-art!
An interesting presentation here by Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang (Altimeter Group/ex Forresters) on the importance of understanding how your audience interacts and engages in social media.
In essence, what they’re saying here is that to operate successfully in this space, brands need to look beyond traditional demographics, geographics and psychographics and try to understand the socialgraphic behaviour of their target audience – e.g. how they behave in social media, why do they behave in this way and who influences them. I particularly like the engagement pyramid which breaks down social engagement into the different behavioural types.
To be honest, it shares very similar principles to Forrester’s technographics ladder which also profiles different behaviour according to their predisposition to participate. Incidentally, this was updated this week to include ‘conversationalists’ to account for the growing number who regularly tweet or update their statuses on social networking sites.
Both models are quite simple but that’s exactly why I like them as they’re easy to relate to, understand and apply! In fact, the above presentation goes on to explain how some brands have used these socialgraphic insights to inform their social strategy. Worth reading.