From likes, to wants, to needs, to love…
The super-connectedness of global communications has challenged how companies interact, engage and maintain relevance and trust with their key audiences and the public-at-large. The reputation of a company is no longer defined by what they “report” or what they “say” they stand for. Instead, they are increasingly defined by the shared opinions and experience of socially-connected consumers.
With greater access to information and news, heightened awareness of economic and (geo) political matters and – most important — the experiences of other individuals (through online communities and social networks), consumers are more discerning about the companies they choose to do business with and support. We are now in a “so what”, “show me” or “can I trust what you say” business, political and social economy.
Who do you trust?
How do companies break through the incredibly high volume of marketing noise to sustain awareness, relevance and preference with consumers? What do consumers care about — and respond to most positively through their actions and choices — when it comes to brand engagement? If consumer loyalty and advocacy are signs of trust, what shapes trust between consumers and a company or brand? What are the characteristics and motivations of the social consumer? What moves them from likes to wants to needs to love it, gotta have it?
Our view is this: consumer choices are increasingly driven by new factors of influence which are not entirely driven by the image that a company markets or projects , but rather, through the demonstrated impact of its actions and behaviors. This is core to our hypothesis about what motivates the social consumer to act.
About the research
Today, we launch a study with The Society for New Communication Research (SNCR) that seeks to explore the factors that inform, impact and shape trust, loyalty and preferences of the digitally connected consumer. We will test the belief that brands which effectively tap into the emotion and awareness of their values (human/social) are most likely to inspire positive action and loyalty from consumers.
Specifically we will explore the following:
- Expectations for brands of a digitally engaged consumer
- Characteristics of the relationship factors between a consumer and a brand
- Whether corporate social responsibility (CSR) influences consumer behavior
- Whether a consumer’s preference to do business / affiliate with a brand that (they believe) is making a positive difference, weigh high in establishing trust and loyalty
- The rewards (e.g. product offers, discounts, CSR) that consumers favor most from brands
- The impact of certain rewards on a consumer’s digital behavior (e.g. purchase, endorsement, vote).
We seek to offer a model and approach for brands to engage and reward consumer behavior (i.e. taking action/engagement in exchange for “something” they deem of value) to increase higher levels of loyalty and brand preference.
This is open research, with results to be shared publicly. We encourage you to take time to contribute your views through completion of this study and share with your friends and colleagues. We hope to complete and share findings in mid-summer.
About the authors:
Vanessa DiMauro is the founder and CEO of Leader Networks, a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building. DiMauro is a popular speaker, researcher and author. With over 20 years of experience in social business leadership positions she has developed award winning social business strategies for some of the largest and most influential companies in the world.
Her work has been covered by leading publications such as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Vanessa DiMauro sits on several boards including The Society for New Communications Research (SNCR) whre she is a senior research fellow and co-chair of the research cohort, and Social Media Today. She is former Executive-In-Residence at Babson College’s Olin School of Management, holds both a B.A. and M.A. from Boston College.
Don Bulmer has over 19 years of multi-national experience leading innovative, award-winning marketing and communication programs at top energy, enterprise technology, internet startup, and professional services companies. He currently leads Shell’s social media and brand innovation efforts.
Don serves as a member of the board of directors at The Churchill Club, an internationally-respected independent business and technology forum located in Silicon Valley, where CEOs, thought leaders, global business executives, and senior political leaders meet to discuss and debate important issues related to innovation, leadership, and economic growth.
Don also serves as a senior fellow and member of the board of directors at The Society for New Communication Research.
The Society for New Communications Research is a global nonprofit 501(c)(3) research and education foundation, think tank, and public service organization, dedicated to the advanced study of the latest developments in new and emerging communications tools and technologies such as digital, social media, and mobile, and their effect on business, culture, and society.
SNCR is dedicated to creating a bridge between the academic and theoretical pursuit of these topics and the pragmatic implementation of new media and communications tools and methodologies.
The Society’s Fellows include a leading group of futurists, scholars, business leaders, professional communicators, members of the media and technologists from around the globe—all collaborating together on research initiatives, educational offerings, and the establishment of standards and best practices.
To learn more about SNCR’s Fellows and their work, visit the Fellows Directory.