Thinking Social / Value

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Stop Ignoring Your Customers In Social And Focus On Your Meat Dress

In the quest to prove the worth of social media, particularly in a downturn, we still see a tendency to focus on the new. The latest platform or technology, the increase in community size, or preference for brand achieved. According to Jackie Huba, keynote at this week’s WOMMA Summit in Las Vegas, recent Forrester numbers do indeed show this. The top three objectives of CMOs in 2012 are new products, new customers and increased awareness.

Yet, does this overlook one of the most important things for any company or brand?

The happiness of its existing customers — on and offline.

Huba underlined that only one-third of CMOs are actually worried about customer retention and giving these customers the best experience possible, which ultimately drives advocacy and recommendation from the most engaged group — the One-Percenters, as Huba calls them.

Her focus on customer loyalty led to a now four-year-long study of Lady Gaga.

As one of the world’s most followed and celebrated artists, both on and offline – Gaga has 53,675,318 fans on Facebook alone — Huba ascertains she is someone we can all learn from.

Here are three takeaways from Jackie’s keynote about her learnings in the Study of Gaga as applied to brands. Followed by questions for any brand to answer truthfully when looking to activate its own One-Percenters.

1. Focus on your core advocates for the long term.

Huba states this is Gaga’s overarching philosophy — she spends her time investing in building the audience today that she wants 25 years from now. And how she does this is particualrly interesting — across all of her work, from involving fans in films and videos to early ticket releases, launches and even the roll-out of Little Monsters earlier in 2012. This is a network built around her fan base of “Monsters,” which was initially only open to 1,000 core fans, and an additional 1,000 who were the first to sign up via Facebook.

Gaga’s intense focus on rewarding them with conversation, content, exclusives, experiences, insights into her life and listening to their feedback means she empowers them to spread the word.

Do you truly know those fans who are your core advocates, and how are you connecting with them on and offline?  

2. Lead with your values.

Gaga is trying to transform culture into a kinder, braver place, where all people are equal. She is therefore a champion of such as causes LGBT rights, eating disorders and anti-bullying. Her fans make an emotional connection to her as a person, and then that drives them to buy tickets, albums, and spread the word.

Brands can do this too — Huba cites the example of Method, the cleaning company, whose core beliefs focus on the fact that the house can be environmentally sound, and a healthy, happy place. While other competitors who jumped on the greenwashing bandwagon have seen a fall in sales during harder economic times, Method’s fans still buy their products because they believe in the company.

Are your core values evident and celebrated by your core fans, enough to make you stand out from your competitors? 

3. Generate something to talk about.

We at Social@Ogilvy talk often of remarkable content and takable brands  as a driver of WOM.

Those core fans — they need something to talk about. While Gaga is often lampooned for her attention-. seeking outfits, these are created with purpose in mind. Her Meat Dress appearance at the VMAs in 2010 was all around driving awareness of the Senate’s repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. As well as bringing four gay veterans to the show with her, Gaga explained the meat dress as being significant because it showed the lack of equality meant “we are the same as our meat on the bones.” Gaga then asked her fans via Twitter to call Senator Harry Reid and ask him to repeal DADT — using the power of people talking to draw attention to her cause.

Are you giving your 1% something remarkable to talk about, and talking to them directly during the big moments in your year, so they can spread the word? 

Jackie’s additional takeaways will be revealed in her 2013 book, Monster Business.

Until then, we in social brand marketing world can all learn an immense amount from two very authentic women. Jackie and the subject of her book. Now, here is a phrase I never thought I would hear myself say — I am a member of the One Percent.