In a new report, strategic consulting firm Vivaldi Partners takes a detailed look at what they call “social currency:” how brands can use social media to drive results, rather than as just another marketing tool.
We spoke to Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of Vivaldi Partners, who told us the company had identified 6 consumer and brand behaviours that are enabled or boosted by social media: affiliation, conversation, information, advocacy, utility and identity.
The key isn’t just enabling those behaviours or creating a good experience, Joachimsthaler said. “That’s all good and nice and beautiful for the consumers,” he argues. “But we are not in the happiness business, we are in the business business. Making money. We asked, ‘how can this drive the three major dimensions of a business?’ Those are consideration, purchase, and loyalty. I don’t want to look at the dream world of enabling consumers, I want to know how it drives those.”
The company evaluated a range businesses on those six behaviours and how they drive consideration, purchases, and loyalty. There were some startling differences among companies within the same industry.
One of the most striking examples is Samsung and Sony. In some ways, the comparison is unfair because a lot of Samsung’s buzz has come from smartphones. But their social strategies have been worlds apart.
“Sony bless my heart, whatever they do, they are creating no consideration and they create no purchases through their social media efforts,” Joachimsthaler said. “Samsung is very much into consideration, purchase, and also loyalty.”
Sony, Joachimsthaler argues, has just been preaching to existing customers, rather than getting people to talk about and celebrate its products in the ways that actually draw in new customers. “That’s exactly what they shouldn’t do,” he said. “They need to get to new consumers rather than reinforcing the 50 year olds, the baby boomers.”
“What Samsung does is very different. If you merely look at the websites of the two companies, the Samsung website is a totally socially enabled website,” Joachimsthaler said. “If you go on the Samsung website you can connect with friends on the website, you can enable all of the things I mentioned earlier, creating advocacy and talking to others.”
To illustrate the difference, here’s Vivaldi Partner’s “social currency” wheel of each of the social dimensions and their business effects for both brands:
Photo: Vivaldi Partners
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