How much is that “like” worth? If I’ve been asked the value over strategy of social media once by a client or potential client, I’ve been asked 1,000 times. As communicators in this digital age, we’ve all been compelled to be statisticians for social sharing, and sociology does not always mix with mathematics. Until now, that is. Here’s a look at a ShareThis breakthrough, along with a practical example of how a share of sharing matters.
Kurt Abrahamson, CEO of ShareThis, may have just quantified your net worth socially. In a study just published, Return on a Share Report, the real value point for social sharing is compared with other consumer influencing variables. According to the report via Abrahamson, the Beresford Research, and Paley Center for Media, content shared online even outweighs brand and price where influencing buyers. I know that fact got some people’s attention.
Not only do online recommendations carry more weight than traditional branding and price concerns, but the study shows consumers are even willing to spend MORE via friendly recommendations, than by simple ad uptake etc. I quote from Abrahamson’s announcement:
“Shared online content, such as recommendations shared between friends, now influences consumer purchases more than price and brand, carries nearly as much weight as in-person recommendations and can motivate buyers to spend 9.5 percent more for a product.”
Abrahamson’s work, if it holds up under scrutiny, creates a whole new “sharing economy” where marketers, business, and the consumer relationships become highly refined. What was a cumbersome and nebulous relationship will mirror my own “coherent customer” contentions for merging masterful marketing practices. Whether or not the “connected and coherent customer” has driven experience oriented marketing, or the marketers have, the end result has to be the kind of proof Abrahamson offers here. The guesswork, that successful social campaign, costs and wins, will be as defined as any business could want. Scheduled to be presented today at a summit at Paley Center, readers can preview or even download the findings here. The chart below from the study shows clearly the multiplicity of value social sharing has compared to conventional world of mouth, etc.
Surveying some 6,000 consumers, Arbrahamson’s team mulled over three consumer segments; automotive, technology and consumer packaged goods. The results, where social sharing go, were staggering. Recommendations outweighed brand at a margin of more than 3 to1, while those “likes” of ours outdistanced price concerns by more than 2 to 1. As I suggested recommendations even added value price wise, adding almost 9% to the sticker price of everything from cars to tomatoes in the grocery store. And a negative share carries even more weight on the minus side of this equation. Other key takeaways from the study include:
For those of you who have needed this kind of “poof” of life in the value of social media PR or marketing, the ShareThis report behind that link is compelling. What’s not shown categorically is the extension of social recommendation to the personal/consumer level though. Using my favorite monitoring tool Brandwatch, you can see below a study I am working on for a hotel client, Lato Boutique Hotel in Heraklion on Crete. As you can see, focusing on Facebook mentions and authors over the past week reveals Lato’s stream of mentions by influential potential guests/evangelists.
Selecting a few at random (shown above), and a particularly positive comment/recommendation, we find not only a soon to be guest, but an evangelist on Facebook to A – the Facebook public, and B – a network of 271 friends. I don’t have to tell you what happens when one of these social guests stays at Lato Boutique Hotel and joins the stellar reviewers there. I make mention of a client here, because this is what we do, and because the “guest experience” for such hotels is dramatically broadcast via these channels. I spoke briefly today with Lato’s Managing Director, Lefteris Karatarakis. Here’s what he had to say about the new findings, and about his company’s continued success:
“From a business and hospitality standpoint, we've always understood the need to be present and to listen to our guests, wherever and whichever channels they choose to communicate over. This approach is imperative to meet expectations, and to keep ahead of competition. What we are seeing in return on our social currency, is actually an extension of what hospitality has always been. We not only listen at the front desk, we're all over the spectrum, and on top of our digital reputation at all times.”
With the ratios and revenues per share all set, or at least beginning to be set, all that remains for marketers and businesses is to ensure their products and services are worthy of a guest recommendation. Once the customer experience is duly noted, being geared for influencing the social sphere and making sure all messaging channels are reciprocating, the socially aware business out there has an advantage. As an example of lost opportunity cost, here's a comparative of some Crete hotels alongside Lato Boutique where mentions in social are concerned. As you can see below via the Brandwatch comparison, over the last several months no competitor comes even close to Karatarakis' property.
Joel Windels, who is the Marketing Manager EMEA for Brandwatch, elaborates on this ShareThis data as well:
"It's no surprise that data is now showing what most social media marketers have suspected for a long time - that social can not only help foster better relationships with customers and prospects, but that it can also drive sales and boost the bottom line. We've observed a similar relationship between social activity, online reputation and purchase intent in our own research."
The hospitality case used illustrates the core business value for customer conversion and retention, as the hotel business is almost purely service and people oriented, in the first place. However, it’s clear to see from ShareThis’ initiative, everything from autos to a loaf of bread are affected, both positively and negatively. Check out the full report for the dollars and cents. Finally, a lot depends on what this sharing is about, and who is doing the sharing. This boils down to influence, but the ShareThis work has laid the groundwork for setting a value on any recommendation.