Consumers don't go to the web to talk about brands (unless they're complaining); they go to share their experiences. A better way to get consumers talking about brands online is to give them something to talk about in the first place.
Product sampling and event marketing have long proven to be the most effective way to generate trial and drive purchase conversion. Nine out of ten consumers say they would purchase a product if they experienced it and were satisfied with it, says the Promotion Marketing Association. And today, social media tools can extend the story on a scale never before imagined. Once the products are distributed, consumers can and should be encouraged to share their experiences online. We all know the power of word of mouth to generate trial and use. Nielsen reports that eight out of ten consumers say they'd try products recommended to them.
Sounds simple, but don't think you can merely hand your product or share your experience with savvy, time-crunched consumers and expect that they'll automatically try it and then talk about it on Facebook. The most effective sampling efforts reach consumers at the point of use, when and where they are most receptive to the brand's message. For example, 40% of travelers forget to pack toiletries. Giving away a razor or toothbrush in hotels can go a long way; hotel gift shops are so expensive. Provide an energy drink or other healthy snack at the top of a ski slope. You get the idea.
Then what? Once you've identified where your consumers are open to trying new things and what their needs are, give them a reason to share their experience. Research tells us that consumers are happy when they're heard and respected. But you've got to make it easy for that sharing to happen and for them to be heard.
Drive consumers to a powerful online engagement platform that enables them to share their opinions across their social media profiles. Once there, give your new brand advocates space to write what they think, through free-form comments and with relevant surveys.
Programs designed with this model consistently demonstrate a swift increase in conversations and reviews across social media channels and significant increase in intent to purchase, to recommend the product, and an increase in share of voice over the competition. A nutritional supplement brand using this method saw Facebook fans increase 94%, and 85% said they intended to purchase the product. A razor brand increased share of voice to competitors by 18%.
Bottom line? The most authentic way to get someone to provide a recommendation is to get him or her to experience the product, first-hand. Then, their review is real. It's authentic. Offering a coupon on Facebook is like dropping in on a cocktail party conversation without being invited. Give them something meaningful when they want to receive it, ask them what they really think, and have the tools at the ready that enable them to share their opinions with their friends with ease. That's authentic engagement that delivers a real return on your marketing investment.