Q&A: Jed Singer, Director of Client Engagement, Stuzo

Jed Singer, Director of Client Engagement, Stuzo, will participate in an intriguing session titled “Olay ‘Eye & Lash Duo’ Wows Times Square, at the 3rd Annual Engagement & Experience Expo, presented by Loyalty 360 – The Loyalty Marketer’s Association. The event will be held Nov. 5-7, 2013, at The Westin Galleria in Dallas, Texas.

Engagement & Experience Expo is a forum to openly discuss customer, brand and channel challenges and solutions. Through a robust slate of best-in-class speakers and interactive discussions, attendees will learn about the latest theories, best practices, relevant case studies, emerging trends and strategies that drive measurable behavioral change and quantifiable results.

Singer participated in a Q&A with Loyalty 360 regarding the session and current industry trends.

How do you use Facebook to spark customer engagement?

Facebook is an excellent way to engage a brand’s consumers and prospective consumers because it represents a new age of dialogue between a customer and a brand. In days gone by, the brand was the owner of the corner store, and it had a real relationship with the community, on a first-name basis. Early in the 20th century, department stores began to crop up, followed by a bevy of ways to buy goods and services that didn’t necessarily require a 1-on-1 relationship with the customer. The birth of Madison Avenue and ‘big idea’ advertising was born, and people no longer bought things from other people, only through logos, magazines, TV ads, catalogs, and, later, websites. All one-way communication. Now, with social media – and Facebook – the message comes directly from another person. Social customer service, led by brands like Comcast Cares and Best Buy, put faces to brands and treat people like they used to be treated -- on a first name basis.

Why else is Facebook (and social) important to brands?

Because they represent the democratization of the tools of self-expression, they are instant (thanks to the mobile web), and they are innately public. What gets said on the social web about Delta Airlines is instantly crawl-able, search-able, and share-able – and because 80% of people trust recommendations from friends, family, and from reviews found online, those brand mentions could make or break a sale or lose a customer. Organizations must monitor what is being said about their products, services, and brand AND engage with their consumers on the social web in a positive way to generate things like mindshare, brand love/advocacy, and foster a community. Brands are no longer ivory towers; they need real-time, always-on teams to engage with their owned and earned communities across the web.

What can social customer engagement mean to brand loyalty?

People buy from brands they trust, and they continue to buy from brands that create sustained value in their lives. Loyalty happens when consumers are overwhelmingly incentivized to continue to buy from a brand, which can happen for any number of reasons – price, value, delight, etc. Ideally, in this new social and mobile web, where the consumer can instantly create earned media for/against a brand, you are turning your loyalists into ADVOCATES. Advocates are loyalists who cannot hide their preferences, opinions, and buying decisions. They love certain brands so much that they need to sing it from the rooftops. The person who won’t drink any energy drink except a Red Bull would rather send it back than drink a Pepsi or a Coke; or has owned five consecutive Toyotas and insists on preaching their value to friends and family. You want these advocates on your side when they decide to vocalize their preferences across the social web, and the best way to achieve that is to engage and interact with them pro-actively, on their turf, within the channels where they spend their time – like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Foursquare, etc.

When it comes to social and mobile customer engagement, what are some missed opportunities for brands?

Real-time marketing is a big miss in the current marketplace – some brands get it while others don’t. For the few homeruns we’ve seen in this new discipline – from Oreo dunking in the dark during the Super Bowl to Tide dousing a fire at NASCAR with #tidepower – there are exponentially more failures, which stem from a disconnect between the existing conversation/trend, the consumer, and the value proposition of the brand’s product or service. Tweeting out a picture of an AT&T phone taking a photo of the memorial lights on 9/11 comes across as shallow, insensitive, and a disjointed, inorganic way to incorporate product into the social conversation of the day. There is more pressure than ever on these new always-on digital marketing teams to find the next home run, but with great communication power comes great responsibility, and failures become very public, very quickly. The mantra of “fail fast” works great for tech startups and R&D departments, but it spells catastrophe for marketing and PR initiatives.

Mobile is another big area where many big brands fail. You get one shot to engage a mobile user, and it may last a second or two. If your brand experience – whether it’s an ad, brand site, commerce site, etc. – is not available or optimized for a mobile user – whether they’re on their iPhone, Windows device, tablet, Smart TV, Smart Watch, etc. – you’re missing out on at least 20% of users today (in social, this is much more like 50-60%), and you’ll quickly be missing out on the majority of users, as the tide continues to shift toward the mobile consumer browsing with near-infinite mobility.

What is your customer loyalty philosophy?

Part of the brand marketer's handbook is the concept of the Moments of Truth, of which, there have traditionally been only two: when the consumer is shopping in the store and decides to select your brand, and when the consumer tries your product and decides that it was a good value. Social and mobile have changed this philosophy a bit over the past 10 years – there is now a third Moment of Truth for virtually every brand in the world: when the consumer has an opportunity to share their story about the brand with friends, family, and connections across the social and mobile web. This moment is critical, as over 92% of people trust online recommendations and brand stories from people they know, while only 24% trust ads; and, in the digital user journey, that trust leads to purchase intent. Brands have to harness these consumers’ positive feelings toward their product or service, give the consumer a platform on which to share their story, and reward that person – either intrinsically or extrinsically – to turn them into a loyal consumer or advocate for the brand.

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