Social Recommendation and Likeability
by Kate Enright
Making it easier for your customers to socially interact inside your store is essential for ensuring that you are making the most of your access to the ever growing world of social recommendations. How you do this could make all the difference. Sure, they can use their smart phones to take pictures of items they are interested in and text them to a friend, but this is cutting out a world of free promotion for you on social networks. They also have the option of using social shopping apps like ShopWithIt but often these can end up driving customers away from stores by giving price comparisons upon scanning the bar code. They can be advised, for example, that Amazon has the product cheaper online and give them the option to order it. In order to steer away from this, why not provide the method of sharing yourself? This just means that while in your store, your customers can login to their social network of choice, add a picture and your store location will not miss out.
Consider someone in your store having the option to post a picture of a product to their Facebook page, Pinterest board, or twitter feed via your app or an in-store platform, and then asking an opinion from the hundreds of direct friends who have the capacity to see the post and like it, and the thousands of friends-of-friends who could see those likes and in turn be marketed to. Instantly you have enormous exposure in an ever expanding base of likes, pins, tweets and recommendations. With minimal effort on your part, you have just marketed your product to a multitude of like-minded friends within the same age demographic and possibly even interests and tastes as that one customer.
So we have established that it’s important to take advantage of the larger audiences you have access to via social media, but what the right medium is for you is another problem to solve. Imagine how much more likely a shopper would be to recommend or refer friends to your location if you had a method of interaction within the store. Otherwise the best you could hope for would be the following process being completed by the customer:
Step 1: Take out phone.
Step 2: Click to open Facebook app.
Step 3: Find your company page and Like it. (unlikely…?)
Step 4: Go to their profile.
Step 5: Post a picture of the product and tag your page. Ask their friends what they think.
This seems a little unlikely that this entire process will be completed. At most I’m guessing, they will take a picture and post it to their page, but this may not directly benefit you, depending on what they say in the post. If the shopper has access to an in-store system and can use it quickly and simply, they are much more likely to bother and you are much more likely to get mentioned in the post (if you have it set up the way you want you will have certainty of mention). One way is to give the user the ability to scans a QR code that brings them straight to their Facebook page, they can then post the picture with an added message with the name of the store and a request for a recommendation. What happens next is down to their friends.
So how do other forms of advertising come into this? Statistics have shown, and it’s no surprise, that banner ads may just be a waste of our money. When was the last time you clicked on one? By accident doesn’t count! People don’t respond well to them according to studies. What they do respond well to however are tips from friends, family, acquaintances, Facebook friends, followers… This is because the recommendation from known people has a whopping 90% trust level! This, when compared to less than 41% for online search engine ads, or banners (Neilson ‘09) is an eye-opener. It makes sense, doesn’t it? We want to know what the influential characters in our lives think about a product, not what a flashing banner is telling us to buy. It’s time to use this info and stop blowing budgets on ads no one will look at. Check out the following stats provided by Neilson in 2009.
So what makes people like specific brands on Facebook, or follow them on twitter? What makes brands recommendable? Rohit Bhargava recently released the book “Likeonomics” which studies the reasons some people and some companies are more “believable” and in turn more likeable than others. We find some organisations to be more genuine than others and this makes us more loyal, and more likely to share our interest in them to others. Some organisations have managed to get the impression across that they aren’t just saying they are good, but that they really are. How do they accomplish this? Bhargava says it’s about being human, honest and emotional. Looking at the figures above and thinking along the lines of social recommendation, you really don’t have to convince everyone, you just have to convince a few, and they’ll do a lot of the work by spreading the word for you. That’s what you need. And who are the people you have the most direct access to? Who are the people who are likely to talk about your organisation to others? Your employees. Costco is a great example of a likeable brand and they have one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the business, they focus on their employees, treat them well and fairly, and guess what, their customers love this. They see it, as they should, as a sign of a fair organisation with a good moral compass and steady core ideals. Although social networks may be a key factor in the world of recommendations, don’t forget about offline, word of mouth is still prevalent. Despite what we are being told, people do still talk face-t0-face!