Fast Company has a terrific feature this month on how consumer brands can achieve social currency. Let's take a look at a few of their conclusions drawn from research by Vivaldi Partners, an international brand consultancy. First, they argue that gimmicks marginalize trust. They compare Wendy's to Burger King. In the last year, Wendy's ran advertisements and used social media to get out the message that it's burger patties were never frozen and were cooked to order for customers. Burger King ran stunts such as the one where consumers could win a free burger if they dropped a certain number of friends on Facebook. Vivaldi's data show that 50% of people believe customers of Wendy's share valuable information about the brand, while only 28% of people believe the same about Burger King customers. Similarly, more people believe Wendy's creates products that they can trust.
The Fast Company article also comes to the conclusion that advocates trump followers. The Vivaldi research shows, for instance, that Dunkin Donuts has far fewer followers on major social media platforms than Starbucks. However, Dunkin' has used social media to more effectively stimulate its customers to become passionate advocates for the brand. The research shows that many more people are likely to have heard positive things about Dunkin' than about Starbucks. These advocates appear to have a powerful impact. A core group of passionate advocates beats an army of followers according to this research. Dunkin' has used a variety of fun and inexpensive social media campaigns and contests to mobilize these advocates in ways many other brands have not. How can your brand do this? That's a question every firm should be considering.