Build Something People Care Enough to Get Angry About

Jason Falls knows where your customers are talking. He’s studied conversations for several years and, time and time again, he’s shed light on an inconvenient truth for brands: If you’re ignoring online forums, you’re probably ignoring a substantial part of the conversations happening in public – maybe even a majority of them. And it usually doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Banking? 90%. Elderly care? 83%.

He doesn’t work in the community space, he’s not drinking the Kool-Aid. Jason is a veteran digital strategist who follows the data, and the data tells him that brands are continually missing a major opportunity to build loyalty and increase sales. And that’s one of the topics on this episode. Plus:

  • Why angry brand ambassadors are actually a positive
  • The obsession with vanity metrics
  • Where community fits in customer journey mapping

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Big Quotes

On how forums influence search results: “If we can all go back 10, 15 years, advising brands in the social media or digital marketing space and say, ‘Here’s what I want you to do: The first thing I want you to do, when you launch your website, is add a forum to it. We’re not going to talk about your product or service, we’re going to let people ask questions about how to use it. Like a customer support board, but we’re really just going to talk more broadly about how to do things and about broad topics within your work, within your industry.’ If every brand did that 15, 20 years ago, then brands would rank number one, two and three for all these search terms that they’re spending a bazillion dollars a year trying to rank for now.” –@JasonFalls

On breaking the allure of vanity metrics: “Even the social networks are saying it’s not really about building vanity metrics anymore. We report that up the channel to our executives, our companies, our clients if we’re at an agency and still, the first question that they typically ask at a monthly meeting or on the call is, ‘How many people are following us now?’ Unfortunately, it’s going to take probably another 12 to 18 months of reinforcing the idea that vanity metrics don’t mean anything or don’t mean as much. Then, it’s going to take an aha moment for a client or an executive at your company to be able to understand what you mean by that.” –@JasonFalls

On convincing CEOs that fans online are spending money: “In 2010, I was working with an environmental products company, and the CEO would call me. I only talked to him once a week. He would call me at 9 on Friday morning, and he would ask me how many Facebook fans they had. Never mind that you could go to your own Facebook page and see the number yourself. He would call me from five hours away and ask me how many Facebook fans he had. I would tell him because, I mean, he was the CEO. … I figured out what he was doing. He called me at 9 because he had a 12 o’clock golf game with a bunch of his buddies, and so he wanted to be able to brag that his Facebook fans had increased every week, and so I said, ‘Okay, this is ridiculous.’

“The next Friday, he called me, and he said, ‘Jason, how many Facebook fans do I have?’ I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to email you the link to your Facebook page, and the number is in the upper corner. You can look at that number any time you want. I don’t really have time to go look at that number for you right now because I’m too busy trying to figure out how to get those fans to buy your product.’ He went, ‘Oh.’ He really, for the first time, thought, ‘You mean you can actually use social media to get people to buy things?’ Then, the questions were different.” –@JasonFalls

On how communities fit into customer journey mapping: “[Online communities are a part of customer journey mapping] especially on higher end purchases, where there’s a lot longer lead time. If you’re purchasing something that costs more than a couple hundred dollars, you’re going to research it for days, if not, weeks or months. You’re going to ask a lot of questions. You’re going to read a lot of articles. That investigative process is probably going to take you to forums and message boards of some sort.” –@JasonFalls

About Jason Falls

Jason Falls is one of the most widely read and respected voices in the digital marketing and social media industries. His digital strategies have touched a number of the world’s most iconic brands including AT&T, Valvoline, Buffalo Trace, Humana, Rawlings, Maker’s Mark, Sealy, Fireball Whisky, Trident, GM and more. Falls leads digital and social strategy for Cornett, a full-service ad agency in Lexington, KY. He loves the state of Kentucky, sports and bourbon.

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