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Brand engagement, Marketing theory, Social media marketing

A book review with a difference: Part 4 (Contagious by Jonah Berger)

What gets one brand talked about more than another?  If you were to compare Walt Disney World with Cheerios for instance, which do you think gets the most tweets each day?  The answer is Cheerios.  Why? Because millions of people are breakfast every day but a trip to Walt Disney is a rare affair.

And this is what you need to keep in mind – the volume of chatter by itself isn’t important.  You need to think about whether you are trying to stimulate immediate word of mouth or ongoing word of mouth.

Immediate WOM tends to be what a lot of PR agencies focus on – it’s about breaking through the noise to be heard by obliterating all other subjects with yours.  E.g. by trending on twitter.  That’s great, but how much impact does it have on your target audience?  Regular exposure to a brand is what makes a difference.  That’s what changes consumer behaviour.  Only rarely will one large event result in lasting change.

This is where triggers come in.  A trigger is when you haven’t had to engineer the situation so that people hear about you.  It happens naturally and, as a result, strengthens the brand relationship so much more.  A great example was the Budweiser ad ‘Wassup’.  Every time their target audience spoke to their friends, it’d start off with a ‘wassup’ which naturally moved into the ad version of extreme Wassups and immediately prompted them to think of Budweiser.  Couple that with the ‘grab a couple of buds’ strapline and you’ve got a killer combo.

It’s triggers like these that can make or break a campaign.  Triggers put particular thoughts or ideas at the top of the mind (p70).  Why is that important? Because accessible thoughts and ideas lead to action.

Getting ongoing word of mouth through regular triggers is seen to be a key ingredient in the recipe for success.  One way that Jonah puts it is to think of small talk.  Most people don’t want to sit there silently, so they root around for something, anything, to say. More often than not, these subjects are something that they’ve just seen or experienced (which is why the weather is always a good failsafe).  A good trigger can be found by thinking about “whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environment of the target audience” (p79).

“Products and ideas also have habitats, or sets of triggers that cause people to think about them.” (p83).  Just try thinking of a corresponding word for each of the following:

Strawberries and…
Bangers and…
Salt and…

Did you say cream, mash and vinegar?  Why?  You could literally have said anything you liked!  Expanding on the first term in that example, every time people think of Strawberries, they also likely think of cream, champagne and Wimbledon.  That gives you three immediate triggers if you’re looking to boost talk around your strawberry brand…

It can be less obvious than that though.  KitKat’s famous ‘have a break’ campaign worked well as it prompted people to remember to take a break, and, when they did, to treat themselves.  And what other treat would you then have but a KitKat?  Same goes for Thank Crunchie it’s Friday.  Or a Finger of Fudge is just enough to give your kids a treat (which was brilliant as it removed all guilt from parents and the kids got some choccie!).

marlboro spoofTriggers can also be things that your competitors are doing.  The book talks about a famous anti-smoking campaign that spoofed the iconic Marlboro ads.  It calls this strategy the “poison parasite” as it injects your message into theirs.  And it’s pretty powerful stuff.

So what makes a good trigger?  Frequency, relevance and action.

In the Cheerios example above frequency was key.  But the strength of the link (i.e. how related the trigger is to your brand/product) is a crucial element, as is being able to act on that trigger as quickly as possible.

Think about a hard hitting ad for a charity that’s on a billboard as you’re driving down a busy street.  It may get you thousands of eyeballs, but they’re not able to do anything about it.  They can’t text to donate or even write down a web address as they’re driving.  Target them in the toilets at the local services though and bam you’ve got them.  Thousands of eyeballs still but with nothing else to look at than your ad.  And recent research says that 75% of people use their mobile in the loo so they can act on it immediately.  This is why the B&BF awareness campaign has been so successful (but they could still do with some more work on their ‘Love Your Gusset‘ facebook campaign…).

In summary:
In all situations, consider the context.  And remember, social currency (see previous posts) may get people talking, but it is the use of triggers that keeps them talking.

Part 5 will look at harnessing Emotion in your communications.



About chichomarketing

Straight talking marketing from a team what works too hard but has lots of fun along the way! Websites, marketing strategy, social media, motion graphics and corporate animations for Small Businesses and Start Ups.


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