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Social Media? Scandal's Got It Handled.

Posted by Kirsten Clark

Thu, May 14, 2015

describe the imageDo you have plans tonight?

If you’re like me, you’ll be snuggled up on your couch with a glass of red wine in one hand and Twitter pulled up on your phone in the other, ready and waiting for tonight’s Scandal finale. I’ll admit it: I love all Shonda Rhimes’ shows. I’ve watched Grey’s Anatomy since season 3 and How to Get Away with Murder after it premiered last fall. But as much as I love these two shows, I know I can DVR them and avoid spoilers. There’s one of Shonda’s shows, however, that I will move mountains to watch live because I just know that if I don’t, I will be spoiled the minute I go online. That show, ladies and gentlemen, is Scandal.

Since its premiere in 2012, Scandal has positioned itself as “event television”—the kind of can’t-miss show that needs to be watched live to get the full experience— which, if you think about it, is a pretty amazing feat. Just a few years ago, event television was thought to be dead with few exceptions (award shows, sporting events, etc.), but Scandal has resurrected it. How? Through cliffhangers, top secret plots, and brilliant marketing campaigns. But none of these have contributed more to this positioning than the show’s masterful use of Twitter.

describe the image

The community the show has built on Twitter has been key to Scandal’s success, and this success story has a lesson that all brands should remember: loyalty and engagement are key. So, how has Scandal been able to do this? Through an immersive campaign that integrates organic fan-generated content with participation from cast and crew members. Each Thursday night, I am one of the #Gladiators scrolling through Twitter to read live tweets from fellow fans as well as cast members. The actors on the show are not the only people participating—fans can chat with Scandal’s writers (@ScandalWriters), prop master (@scandalprops), makeup department (@ScandalMakeup), and others.

In addition to live tweeting, Scandal has also brilliantly incorporated hashtags into its social media strategy. For instance, in 2012, the show was one of the first programs to advertise on Twitter and to feature a promoted hashtag (#WhoShotFitz) in advertising. The show uses a variety of hashtags for different purposes. For example, the show used #ScandalRecruitment during one month in season three to attract new viewers, and it often promotes #AskScandal, which viewers can use to ask a cast or crew member a question about the show.

All of this has culminated in a massive social media following. The show’s fans send out over 350,000 tweets per episode and, until recently, Scandal had the highest average tweets per episode during live airings of any broadcast drama this season. The show that beat Scandal? Newcomer Empire, which has based its social media strategy (live tweeting, promoted hashtags, etc.) off the success of Scandal’s strategy.

You’re probably asking yourself: why does this matter? First of all, after watching Olivia Pope shut someone down with a scene-stealing speech, is there anything more exciting than getting to directly interact with Kerry Washington about that exact scene? (The answer is no, people.) More importantly, Twitter released a study last May which found that after seeing TV-related tweets, 90% of people take “subsequent action such as watching a show they’ve never watched before, resuming a show that they’d previously stopped watching, and/or searching for more information about the show online.” Let this be a lesson to all brands (not just television shows): building a passionate fan base on Twitter generates loyalty and engagement, which in turn generates increased revenue.

So, fellow Gladiators, cancel your plans and settle in, because tonight promises to be another adventure—both on-screen and on your Twitter feed.

Kirsten Clark is a Marketing Associate at CMB who one day aspires to be like Olivia Pope. . .except without all torture, murders, and Presidential affairs.

Topics: marketing strategy, social media, television, customer experience and loyalty, digital media and entertainment research

Are You There, News? It's Me, Snapchat.

Posted by Blair Bailey

Tue, Feb 24, 2015

snapchat, discoverSitting in my cozy Boston office, sipping coffee, I’m suddenly transported to Washington State’s Cascade Mountain Range, soaring above the mile-high Cowboy Mountain and scanning Tunnel Creek, a popular, snow-powdered trail and the site of the tragic 2012 Stevens Pass avalanche.This is the genius of the graphics that accompany “Snow Fall: The Avalanche in Tunnel Creek,” a story that debuted in 2012 on The New York Times’ online edition. Although the rushing show and biting winds are only graphics embedded within the article, they are so well done you feel like you are there. In recent years, The New York Times, a stalwart of traditional print news, has dominated digital storytelling, integrating stunning and sometimes interactive graphics within its pages.

As beautiful as these features are (and they are still stunning 3 years later), where does this interactive, visual storytelling fit within our 140-character, 6-second-film, top-8 lives? (Forgive the MySpace reference, but nothing conveys digital restrictions more than fitting your most prized friendships into a 2 x 4 grid.)

Snapchat, an app notorious for its not-so-lasting impressions, recently released Discover, allowing traditional media companies to feature public content, like trailers and current events, within the app. The media outlets range from Cosmopolitan to National Geographic and tease users with graphics and sound bites as well as the traditional flashy headlines. After hitting the purple dot in the upper right corner, users are presented with an array of publications to choose from. Once a publication is selected, users can swipe left and right to move through stories, swipe up to read more, or swipe down to exit the publication and return to the Discover menu.

By now, most publications have a mobile presence of some type. So, why is Snapchat’s most recent move something we should care about? Although it’s not an entirely novel idea, Snapchat’s new feature adds several unique twists to digital storytelling.

  • In keeping with Snapchat’s ephemerality, Discover’s content is only available for twenty-four hours. While the content can be viewed as many times as desired during that period, the news outlet invites users to come back tomorrow for new stories.
  • Unlike Facebook and Twitter, both of which typically lead the user away from the platform, all Discover content—articles, videos, photo sets, trailers, music videos, etc.—is contained within the app.
  • Snapchat also serves a very different demographic than most social media sites. Discover is targeted to Millennials, but, as of July 2014, over 50% of Snapchat users are between 13-17 years old and over 80% are under 24 years old. Many of the publications on Discover may be taking an initial risk straying so far from their key audiences .
  • Discover is also a fresh idea to existing Snapchat users. Unlike Twitter, where incoming brands have to adhere to the existing 140-character boundaries, Discover breaks the Snapchat mold without straying too far from its original purpose. The format is different enough to interest users and keep them coming back, but still familiar enough that users recognize the Snapchat interface.

While the selection of publications could be tweaked further, Discover shows that Snapchat knows its users. Short, (mostly) teenage attention spans still get their familiar bite-size content but in a format that’s new enough to hold their attention. Discover also holds the potential to keep Millennials coming back for more than momentary embarrassing videos and wacky photos. It adds value to an app that has seen a lot more selfies than the average person could probably handle.

With over 1.2 billion websites cluttering our networks, storytelling has become increasingly important to stand out among the dot nets and dot coms. And it’s not just apps and news sites. In data heavy fields like market research, it can be easy to let storytelling take a backseat. That’s why we’re investing more time and resources into creating dynamic storytelling through infographics, video, and mobile. This engaging, inspiring, and motivating content brings results to life and helps us strengthen the relationship between our clients and their audiences. . .and best of all, we do it without all those selfies.

Blair Bailey is an Associate Researcher at CMB and a recent M.S. graduate from Boston University. When she isn’t working with data or being held captive by the commuter rail, you can find her carefully flooding her social media feeds with pictures of dogs.

Topics: mobile, storytelling, social media

A Perfect Match? Tinder and Mobile Ethnographies

Posted by Anne Hooper

Wed, Apr 23, 2014

Tinder JoeI know what you are thinking...“What the heck is she TALKING about? How can Tinder possibly relate to mobile ethnography?”  You can call me crazy, but hear me out first.For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Tinder is a well-known “hook up” app that’s taken the smartphone wielding, hyper-social Millennial world by storm. With a simple swipe of the index finger, one can either approve or reject someone from a massive list of prospects. At the end of the day, it comes down to anonymously passing judgment on looks alone—yet if both users “like” each other, they are connected. Shallow? You bet. Effective? Clearly it must be because thousands of people are downloading the app daily.

So what’s the connection with mobile ethnography? While Tinder appears to be an effective tool for anonymously communicating attraction (anonymous in that the only thing you really know about the other person is what they look like), mobile ethnography is an effective tool for anonymously communicating daily experiences that we generally aren’t as privy to as researchers. Mobile ethnography gives us better insight into consumer behavior by bringing us places we’ve never gone before but are worthy of knowing nonetheless (Cialis, anyone?). Tapping into these experiences—from the benign to the very private—are the nuts and bolts behind any good product or brand.

So how might one tap into these experiences using mobile ethnography? It’s actually quite easy—we create and assign “activities” that are not only engaging for participants, but are also designed to dig deep and (hopefully) capture the "Aha!" moments we aim for as researchers. Imagine being able to see how consumers interact with your brand on a day-to-day basis—how they use your product, where their needs are being fulfilled, and where they experience frustrations. Imagine “being there” when your customer experiences your brand—offering insight into what delights and disappoints them right then and there (i.e., not several weeks later in a focus group facility). The possibilities for mobile ethnography are endless...let’s just hope the possibilities for Tinder come to a screeching halt sooner rather than later.

Anne Hooper is the Director of Qualitative Services at CMB. She has a 12 year old daughter who has no idea what Tinder is, and she hopes it stays that way for a very long time.

Topics: methodology, qualitative research, social media

5 Benefits of Storytelling in the Consumer-Driven World

Posted by Alyse Dunn

Tue, Aug 27, 2013

Digital StorytellingCommunication has changed. With the growth of the “Social Market,” businesses can no longer rely solely on traditional mediums—television, print, and radio, to win consumers. Consumers are key players in a social revolution that’s changing the way they speak with each other and with businesses.So, what does this mean for Marketing and Customer Development? The way consumers choose products and services has taken a sharp turn, with more decisions driven by word-of-mouth and experiential benefits. From a Marketing perspective, businesses need to focus on pulling customers in by offering targeted, useful, and engaging content, rather than pushing out broad campaigns.

How can businesses take advantage of this two-way communication and connect with customers in a way that drives loyalty and advocacy? One of the best ways is through storytelling.

The 5 Keys to Storytelling

  • Stories help us understand the world: Throughout history, stories have been the way people make sense of the world. People thrive on stories to help them put things in perspective and to help them navigate the overwhelming amount of data, facts, and realities that confront them. Stories are one of our oldest mechanisms for security, which is why they are so powerful. If a business can use a story to show how a product/service can be beneficial, people will form a stronger connection.

  • It is human nature: When you tell someone about your child or vacation, you don’t tell them your child’s hair color or that the weather was 85.2 degrees. You communicate more emotionally by telling others something funny that your child did or that you went surfing for the first time. People do not operate in the realm of data, it is counter-intuitive to how we are hard-wired, which is why storytelling in business is so powerful. If you want to connect with a person and drive advocacy, your best bet is weaving factual benefits into an even more powerful story.

  • Don’t overwhelm with data: At the end of the day, you are speaking to a person.  People don’t digest data the same way a computer can. Data can be beneficial, but most people are looking for a connection. Apple is a great example of a business that has driven a connection with their customers by weaving data with storytelling, which is one of the reasons they have such high brand loyalty.

  • It is no longer a ‘Business’ connecting with a ‘Consumer’: It is people connecting with people. Businesses need to understand who they are speaking with and cater communications in relevant manner. People will not connect with a business that offers no emotional connection and that doesn’t meet a need.

  • It’s a two-way street: Consumers have a larger say in marketing and branding because the way consumers communicate has shifted. People are listening to other people as opposed to large campaigns. The value of word-of-mouth has soared, and social media allows people to see what others are saying, in real-time. Two-way communication is very powerful. By taking the time to have conversations with consumers, businesses have been able to learn and thrive in the consumer-driven market. This is critical to success and to building both advocacy and loyalty.

Storytelling is a pivotal part of marketing, communications, and business. Without it, consumers find it difficult to connect and advocate for something. Storytelling can and should be used in any business because it can drive loyalty, advocacy, and trust.

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trust a solely data driven business to care for my interests, I would and do trust the businesses who have worked to understand my needs and who have created an emotional connection through the power of stories.

Alyse is a super-star associate at CMB, and a captain of CMB’s Light the Night team to raise money to fight Leukemia.  She is a kid-at-heart, loves Disney’s approach to storytelling, and is a 43 time Disney World visitor.

Join Tauck's Jeremy Palmer, CMB's Judy Melanson and South Street Strategy Group's Mark Carr on September 12th at noon (EDT) for a webinar: Focused Innovation: Creating New Value for a Legacy Brand

Topics: storytelling, consumer insights, social media

The Bright Side of The New Customer Experience

Posted by Jessica Chavez

Wed, Jun 26, 2013

customer experience satisfactionOne of the cardinal rules of great customer service is be helpful - even if there's no immediate profit in it. That’s never been truer than today; a customer who feels truly special and cared for has more channels to express themselves than ever before. We hear quite a bit about the power of negative reviews; many companies spend millions trying to recover poorly-served customers, but the positive impact of a happy customer also deserves attention.Case in point, Crate & Barrel has awesome customer service. And now all my friends, and friends of friends, and probably even their friends, know it. I bought 2 glasses from Crate & Barrel a few months ago. One arrived chipped. I called to see about getting it replaced, I was all geared up to argue my case to the representative on the phone. I was ready to try and prove that it arrived chipped, I wanted to make sure she knew that I wasn’t lying about it to get something for free. Of course, I assumed I would have to send it back, so they could see that it was indeed chipped and mark it in some inventory database somewhere, and basically go through a lot of trouble to get my unchipped glass.

The customer service rep didn’t question me at all.  She looked it up in the database, saw that I had ordered the glasses, apologized for one being chipped, and said she would send a replacement out right away. She said as far as the chipped glass goes – I could keep it and use it as a flower vase or throw it out or do whatever I wanted with it. I got the new one 2 days later.  It could not have been easier or more pleasant.

I was so excited about the whole experience that I immediately posted on Facebook about it.

Facebook and Yelp have, of course, helped revolutionize customer service. Before them, a bad experience could be emailed around to friends, talked about at gatherings, you might have even written to the company itself. But these channels only reached so many people. Now, however, through Facebook, Yelp, and countless other online review sites, we can reach thousands of potential customers in one second. We can literally tell the world about our experience, good or bad. This is a pretty powerful motivator for companies to go above and beyond in the customer service department, and we can thank social media for that.  

Jessica is a data manager for CMB’s Technology, e-Commerce, and Medical Devices practice.  She always reads reviews or consults Yelp before buying any new products or services.

Click here to read more of our Customer Experience blogs.

Topics: social media, customer experience and loyalty, retail research