Friday, October 24, 2008

Social Media and Psychosocial Marketing

It is an axiom word of mouth is the best form of advertising. This is an obvious truth because people speak to friends, colleagues and associates about their likes (and dislikes).

About 15 years ago I ran a direct response promotional agency near New York. Keeping customers was of paramount importance. I read a book at that time by an author Michael LeBeauf entitled "How to Win Customers and Keep Them for Life". He stated that a satisfied customer will tell approximately 5 other people, but a dissatisfied one will tell approximately 11. Hence the power and influence of word of mouth from both ends of the stick. In short, there is an inherent trust between both parties that what is being discussed is untainted by the powers of advertising.

In Web 2.0, social media dove tails with this concept. There are all kinds of social media such as LinkedIn, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook. Any electronic channels enabling people to exchange ideas and viewpoints thereby enabling an exchange of views can be considered social media. Under this definition, I would also consider blogs, twitter and the like.

Recently, I discovered a company, Colligent Direct, (, who aggregated over 100MM publicly available records of people belonging to social networks. Through proprietary software, Colligent Direct harvested information, much like Google, creating a massive database that marketers can turn to for a wealth of usable information.

What is so special about social networks? They contain self reported information from millions of users. Information such as age, income, popular brands, music, books, movies, political views, religion, sexual orientation are posted by individual users.

Marketers can use this information in various ways. Some of them include:

  • Suppose you have a customer database. Colligent can match your customers against their 100MM records and identify the matches. Then, the various attributes (demographic and psychosocial) can be appended. Once appended you can identify purchasing likes (and dislikes) and tailor future marketing program catering to your customers specific lifestyle or interests.
  • Colligent has in depth analytical reporting. A "Customer Snap Shot Report" is available. The company will take your customer data and match it against their database. Based on the matches, they will prepare an in-depth report on a range of demographics and psychosocial attributes. This information can reveal hidden marketing opportunities, cross promotions with brands, music, books your customers like.
  • Other analytical reports include "Brand Snap Shot Report", "Customer Trend Report" and "Brand Trend Report". The "Brand Snap Shot Report" provides a profile on a brand, not your own customer base. Suppose you are looking for competitive information on a brand that competes with yours. Colligent's "Brand Snap Shot Report" analyzes the "fans" of that brand that are on their database. Much the same information is reported as in the "Customer Snap Shot Report". The only difference is that the former is reporting on the brand's profile on the social networks, NOT your customer. This is very useful for competitive information.
  • Last, but not least, the company can perform "reach outs"; highly targeted campaigns reaching the individuals on Colligent Direct's social networks matching your exact psychosocial profile provided. Here is the big benefit. You only pay for the fans originally receiving your message. However, this is psychosocial marketing. The recipients are going to post this information on their pages for their "friends" to see and discuss. Your marketing program reaches the fan's "friends". While you do not pay for this, you reap the rewards. Colligent's analytical services tracks the campaigns "fan's" performance as well as their friends! Pretty cutting edge stuff.
Colligent Direct is a new paradigm. Picture Search Engine Marketing (SEM) as a funnel with the wider spout at the top. SEM begins with the premise of identifying a target audience, (based on demographics and other lifestyle attributes that appear to match your audience). A subset of the total reach will click on the link and a smaller subset converting to customers.

Colligent Direct begins with the narrower end of the funnel at the top. They begin by identifying KNOWN fans of your product or service based on their self reported information. Through the inherent power of social networks, word of mouth begins.

In SEM's financial model, you pay for all the clicks, not just the ones converted to sales. Colligent charges on the initial "reach out" to targeted fans, NOT the ancillary word of mouth that occurs. But, and this is a big but, their analytical reporting tracks the performance of the initial fans AND ancillary effect of the fans' friends!

Other off line marketing initiatives can also result from this information. For example:
  • Through identifying popular brands your customers like can open up cross promotions, joint sponsorships, TV, Radio to name a few.
  • Internal customer relationship marketing programs are improved. The additional information appended from colligent direct should be added to your customer history. Highly target customer retention and cross promotional database marketing programs should be implemented.
In short, there is a lot of hidden untapped consumer information that is now readily available. This goes beyond SEM's targeting, and most likely is the next "new thing" in internet marketing. If used correctly, Colligent Direct's services integrates the confluence of on and the off line media playing right into the strengths of Internet and relationship marketing initiatives.

Finally, I read the head line and lead story in the New York Times, (Tuesday 11/4/2008). The headline read "The '08 Campaign: A Sea Change for Politics as We Know It, From Internet to Turning Out Vote". The article discussed the way Barack Obama used the internet to his advantage. In the article, Mark McKinnon, a senior advisor to President Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns stated, "The year campaigns leveraged the internet in ways never imagined. The year we went to warp speed. The year the paradigm got
turned upside down and truly became bottom up instead of top down.[My emphasis]" I believe, social media will play an increasing role in future elections and marketing in general. With its inherent capability of reaching "the bottom up", leveraging word of mouth, interactive video and blogging, I believe Colligent Direct's data, and others like it will play an increasing role in ways as of yet unimagined.

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