NEWS17 March 2015

Seizing the social opportunity

News UK

The rise of social media creates a wealth of opportunity for brands to boost advocacy and their bottom line – but there are pitfalls watch out for, Impact 2015 hears.


Steve Thomson, UK MD at Keller Fay Group, told the conference in London today that while word of mouth was not new, the rise of digital media had thrown fresh light on how friends and influencers played a role in the way consumers thought about brands.

“Brands really want to be talked about, and it’s good for brands. It’s not just an act of faith – there’s very strong evidence that if you can increase your social profile, you’ll benefit enormously,” he said.

But, he said, building a strong social profile meant not just measuring word-of-mouth activity carefully, but also acting to influence it. Thomson said brands needed to measure not just digital channels but all forms of word of mouth activity, essential given that 90 per cent of conversations about brands are conducted offline.

He warned against paying too much attention to net promoter scores and encouraged brands to track actual advocacy rather than potential advocacy. “Real life is messy,” he said. “People don’t always live up to their NPS billing.” Similarly, actual impressions were more valuable than potential reach figures, and sentiment – while difficult to measure – was essential to understanding not just what was being said about a brand but also what was motivating people to talk about them.

Thomson highlighted key differences in the way people talk about brands online and the way brands perform. Consumers, projecting themselves as a media brand of sorts, tend to be more considered in their online comments than in casual, real-world conversation. And, they tend to be more polarised in their online views.

To drive greater word of mouth on social media, Thomson suggested using paid media to start conversations, and thinking about both the online and offline effects of activity that launched online. “If you do something on Facebook, don’t just look at the Facebook effect but also what’s said in the pub later.”