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Buying a Belief: 4 Brands That Won by Taking a Stand

Stay out of it.

Take the path of least resistance.

Avoid hot-button issues.

Up until now, this has been the predominant mindset of brands amidst major sociopolitical change, division or scandal.

But as today’s political climate continues to spiral and trust in institutions is at an all-time low, consumers have begun looking to brands to step up and take the lead in effecting change.

According to a 2018 survey by Sprout Social, two-thirds of consumers (66%) say it’s important for brands to take public stands on social and political issues. And Edelman’s 2017 study, “Beyond No Brand’s Land,” found that more than half (51%) of respondents believe that brands have more power to solve social issues than the government.

Never before have brands held so much influence over societal changes. And although some brands may be uncomfortable stepping into this new role, they may not have a choice.

Nearly 60% (57%) of consumers are more likely to buy from or boycott a brand because of its stance on a social or political issue. And for these “belief-driven buyers,” silence is not an option.

But with the recent missteps of brands like Pepsi and Uber, it’s understandable why brands may be wary to speak up. Luckily there are some brands that have gotten it right and whose success can provide a lesson to others looking to follow in their footsteps:

1. Patagonia – “The President Stole Your Land

Last year when President Trump gave the order to dramatically reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, Patagonia–along with the greater environmentalist community–responded with outrage and fear for the integrity and protection of these public lands.

To publicize the brand’s position and further educate the general public on the issue, Patagonia replaced its website’s traditional homepage with a confrontational headline followed by the company’s stance on the issue, further resources and suggestions to donate.

Why it worked: We learned in the Sprout study that relevance is key to reception. Environmental conservatism is at the heart of Patagonia’s brand. It’s in their company’s mission statement to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. So not only was their response a legitimate, warranted stance, but it was almost necessary given the values the brand was built upon.

It also worked because the revamped homepage was not simply an empty, isolated gesture or media stunt. Not only does Patagonia already have a proven track record of grassroots environmental efforts and generous donations, this particular campaign was accompanied by a giant resource catalog with education around public lands and next steps for visitors looking to take action.

2. Airbnb – #WeAccept

The popular home-sharing site drew national attention with the airing of their politically-charged TV commercial during Super Bowl LI. In response to President Trump’s nation-dividing travel ban, the aid boldly declared, “we believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept,” followed by the hashtag #weaccept.

In addition to the ad, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky released a statement a few days after the commercial aired stating the company’s goal “to provide short-term housing over the next five years for 100,000 people in need.” The company also pledged to contribute $4 million to the International Rescue Committee to support the needs of the globally displaced.

Why it worked: Again, this was a stance on an issue that directly aligned with the service that Airbnb offers. It was a natural space for the company to occupy.

And like Patagonia, Airbnb didn’t just stop at the controversial tactic. It was backed up by the promise of real action that offered to directly–and quite significantly – reduce the negative impact of the ban.

On top of that, the company’s very own CEO was the one making public statements—not a PR spokesperson or generic company entity. According to the #BrandsGetReal study, people like to see CEOs speaking up.

3. Heineken – “Worlds Apart

Often described as the antidote to the disastrous Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad, Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” social-experiment-turned-TV-commercial is an example of a beverage company tackling tough cultural issues the right way.

In the experiment, two strangers are paired together to complete several DIY tasks while simultaneously getting to know a little bit about one another. After a level of respect and rapport is reached, it’s then revealed to the strangers that they each hold drastically opposing views on today’s most divisive, hot-button cultural/societal topics (ie. transgender rights, climate change and feminism).

The participants are then given the choice to either stay and talk it over with a Heineken in hand or part ways. After some expertly edited tense moments it’s revealed that everyone decides to stay and the audience is gifted with a montage of clips showcasing humanity’s very real capacity for kindness, empathy and acceptance—despite our differences.

Why it worked: Heineken does a lot of things right in this video. One, the lower production value and reality-TV vibe makes it feel less contrived and more authentic. Consumers can actually see themselves in that very situation. This demonstrates another facet of relatability that’s also very important.

Another big contributing factor is more about what the brand didn’t do. Unlike the Pepsi ad, Heineken didn’t position their product as the solution to these problems. It’s simply there to represent a bridge for discussion. Talking it over over a cold one is a common human experience. The brand didn’t over-promise or over-dramatize its role and what resulted felt genuine and authentic.

It was also very strategic in that it didn’t take a stance one way or the other on any of the topics. As mentioned above, Heineken took a lot of care in carving out exactly what the brand’s role is. It was less about choosing a side and more about positioning themselves as a way to unite people in the middle.

4. Ben & Jerry’s – “Save Our World

Even before President Trump’s controversial withdrawal from the Paris Agreement made climate change a household topic, Ben & Jerry’s had been championing the fight for cleaner energy sources. Never one to shy away from social issues, the ice cream brand launched a full-scale campaign/movement to join the fight against climate change in 2015.

As part of the campaign, the brand released a new ice cream flavor, “Save Our Swirled,” as a message to their fans to share their stance (“if it’s melted, it’s ruined”). They also published a list on their website of “endangered flavors” that used ingredients at risk should climate change continue to affect global farming and food production. Their creative efforts culminated in the video linked above, highlighting the significance and severity of this movement using the clever analogy of melted ice cream.

These however were just the marketing pieces of the campaign puzzle. More active components included an emissions-free road tour to spread the message and a partnership with community-based organization Avaaz to help distribute their petition demanding action from the United Nations.That partnership contributed more than 10% of the 3 million total signatures Avaaz presented to the UN.

Why it Worked: Why this particular campaign worked is also why any of the brand’s political activism works: taking a stand on social issues is part of the brand’s DNA. It has been a part of their brand story from the very beginning when proceeds from company profit as well as generous donations were gifted to fund various community projects. The brand believes, “the strongest bond you can build with your consumers is over shared values.”

The company doesn’t view an issue as an opportunity to sell more ice cream, but rather the ice cream as an opportunity to shed light on the issue. It’s a completely value-first mission and mindset that’s rare in the marketplace.

And even when some brand backlash arose regarding the dairy industry’s heavy effect on climate change, the company took action pledging to take steps to lower their carbon footprint, as well as the long-awaited release of a line of vegan/non-dairy flavors.

Gone are the days when consumers only bought what you were selling. Now they’re buying what you believe in. And since staying out of the conversation may no longer be an option in the future, your brand may want to take a page from the playbooks of these brands doing it right.

This post Buying a Belief: 4 Brands That Won by Taking a Stand originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes

Latest Facebook Updates 2018

Latest Facebook Updates 2018

From the Russian ad debacle to the Cambridge Analytica scandal to suffering a major stock price blow just a few short weeks ago, Facebook has been making less-than-stellar headlines the past few months. Users are concerned about their privacy and how their data is being used—and brands and marketers are wondering whether the platform will continue to be a viable advertising and engagement platform.

In an attempt to rebuild trust, ensure better data protection and transparency, the social network is doubling down, again, on their commitment to improving the user experience and creating a fun, respectful community.

As all marketers will remember, the quest to improve user experience started way back in 2015, with the announcement it would be making refinements to its News Feed to strike a better balance between friends, public figures, publishers, businesses, and community organizations. That continued in the summer 2016 with more updates favoring friends and family content—and was still on the move when the first scandal broke later that year.

Of course, these changes didn’t do marketers and brands any favors in the organic reach department. Organic reach had already been declining, and these moves have nearly eliminated its potential. And now, more changes have arrived, presenting new challenges as well as some opportunities.

Below we share the low-down on five of such recent or rolling out changes, what they mean for social media marketers, and some potential next steps to take.

1. A New News Feed

Once again, the News Feed is getting a facelift—a big one. While Mark Zuckerberg announced back in January 2018 that changes would be rolling out throughout the year, a “major update” was announced in April, which Director of Product Management, Mark Hull, details in the video below:

Essentially, meaningful person-to-person interaction is what will carry the News Feed ranking weight, and person-to-page interactions will continue to be second tier. Oh, and Facebook expects people to spend less time on the platform.

This sounds pretty scary for marketers. Most have adapted their strategies to zero-in on fostering engaging discussion, as well as throwing spend behind Facebook’s ad platform (which is also changing and we’ll get to that later).

But before you eliminate Facebook from your marketing mix, there are a few opportunities to consider:

Working with influencers: With Facebook continuing to elevate content from individuals, there may be no better time to start building relationships with industry influencers and thought leaders that you can collaborate with on content.

Read: Death of Organic Reach = New Opportunities for Influencer Marketing

Facebook Groups: As my colleague, Nick Nelson, reported not too long ago, while groups have long been available as a feature on Facebook, the brand-driven “Facebook Groups for Pages” were just rolled out last year. And some brands are seeing traction with them, but this isn’t something you leap into without being thoughtful.

Read: The Question on Many Marketers’ Minds: Should My Brand Start a Facebook Group?

Facebook Stories: Very recently, Facebook insiders asserted that Facebook Stories may very well be the future of connection on Facebook. Once again, as Nick Nelson pointed out: “Facebook Stories are intriguing because they offer a real chance to capture part of a user’s attention — maybe even more than the minimum amount.” And early adopters may secure an advantage.

Read: The Future of Connection on Facebook: How Stories May Change the Marketing Game

2. Stricter Ad Targeting

As of late, most of Facebook’s critiques are a result of their advertising products and practices. By increasing the targeting capabilities of their advertising products, Facebook arguably put users’ privacy at risk. To help correct that perception and protect user privacy, Facebook is making several changes to their advertising platform.

One such update was released in early July, requiring advertisers to state where they acquired people’s information for their custom audiences. Instead of simply uploading a list of emails you want to target as a custom audience, Facebook wants advertisers to take extra steps to ensure those emails came from a reputable source and that the audience has consented to those ads. With this change, Facebook hopes to improve transparency with users about why they see ads from certain brands and how they received their information.

New Facebook Ad Disclaimer

(Credit: Facebook)

In addition, Facebook has also disabled their Partner Categories product, which provided targeting capabilities from third-party data providers to advertisers. This limits advertiser insight into user behavior outside of Facebook (e.g. purchasing activity), making ads appear more natural to users and less “big brother.”

From our perspective, this is good news. Consumers are increasingly wary of marketing and advertising messages and this move can help strengthen the credibility and relevance of your ads and brand. Of course, this is all assuming you can and do confirm your custom audience lists and sources fall within the new guides.

So, if you haven’t already, take the steps to review your custom audience lists and their sources. You need to be able to state if you received the information directly from your audience, a partner, or a combination. If you used a data provider like an advertising or marketing agency, double check that they’ve acquired the data honestly and they agree to Facebook’s Terms of Use.

3. New Data History Tools

Now more than ever, people want control over their data. They want to know what information is stored, who has access to it, and they want to be able to delete it.

Recognizing this need, Facebook announced a new feature called Clear History that will be released “soon.”With this new feature, Facebook is giving users the ability to see the websites and apps that store information with Facebook, and delete that information from their account.

However, Facebook will still retain aggregated analytics, but no personally identifying information will be contained.

“We’ll still provide apps and websites with aggregated analytics – for example, we can build reports when we’re sent this information so we can tell developers if their apps are more popular with men or women in a certain age group,” Facebook says. “We can do this without storing the information in a way that’s associated with your account, and as always, we don’t tell advertisers who you are.

What exactly does this mean for marketers? If you use Facebook plugins on your website (think Facebook Pixel or “Like” buttons on websites), your audience can now see and delete the information that the plugin collects; meaning it won’t be connected to their profile any longer.

Obviously, if users take advantage of this when it rolls out, clearing their history could be problematic for marketers, and maybe even users. For marketers, it will be incredibly difficult to target these folks with ads. For users, that could mean an uptick in irrelevant ads for a time.

However, the eventual upside for advertisers could be the “re-learning” that needs to happen after a history cleanse, which can lead to a more relevant and accurate look of who your audience is.

4. Poor Customer Feedback = Ban

A poor customer experience really sours your impression of a brand. An to ensure that ads on Facebook lead to positive shopping experiences, and not negative ones, Facebook will now ban brands that have low customer satisfaction ratings from advertising on their platform.

For example, if users give you too many frowning faces shown in the rating system below, Facebook will reject your ads.

Facebook Negative Review Example

(Credit: Facebook)

Before you become too concerned, however, Facebook says it will: “Share feedback directly with businesses that receive high volumes of negative feedback and will give them a chance to improve before taking further action. If feedback does not improve over time, we will reduce the amount of ads that particular business can run.”

So, even if you receive negative ratings, you will have an opportunity to make improvements to prevent being banned.

The opportunity here is obvious. The better customer experience you provide, the more successful your marketing efforts will be. For Facebook ads, this is rooted in focusing on clarity and honesty within your ads.

At a minimum, Facebook suggests taking steps to ensure your ads aren’t misleading. In addition, use images or videos to make it very clear what you are selling and what you are selling it for. It’s also a good idea to set clear expectations for how users will receive your product or service. By setting clear guidelines, you’re more likely to meet customer expectations, leading to more positive user ratings. For more insight, read Facebook’s tips on how to improve customer feedback.

5. All of Your Ads, Exposed

Knowing the organization behind an ad is important. Otherwise, users might not trust the content of the ad. So, to increase ad and page transparency, Facebook now allows users to see all of the ads any page is running within their partner network.

This includes ads on Instagram, Messenger, and the rest of the Facebook partner network. In addition, even if pages aren’t advertising, Facebook will provide more information about a page including name history and the date the page was created. Together, these changes aim to give users more information about an organization so they can decide if an ad is credible or not.

Facebook Ad Transparency

(Credit: Facebook)

For marketers, this change isn’t a bad thing — it may even mean more eyeballs on your advertising content. However, marketers should still be thoughtful about how their ads will be perceived by individuals outside of their target audience.

For example, even if an ad isn’t specifically designed for or served to them, users can still review (and report) your ads. As a result, you need to take extra steps to make sure your ads are consistent, clear, and friendly for all.

The Life Force of Facebook

Long before the scandals and latest privacy concerns, Facebook has been rooted in evolution. Just think what the platform started as and has become. So, while the recent and coming changes seem pretty fierce, I think it’s safe to say we were already on that trajectory. And there’s probably more to come.

Since the major changes that impacted advertisers and brands began rolling out in 2015, Facebook has maintained their actions are all in the interest of creating a better user experience. And at the end of the day, that’s what the goal of any marketer is in their quest to nurture their audience and aid them on their customer journey.

So, it’s OK if you’re a panicked, disheartened, or simply irritated. But, at this point, the platform still holds marketing opportunity, marketers just need to adapt their social media marketing strategies, try new features and avenues, and work hard to ensure they’re part of providing that great user experience.

Looking for more social media marketing news, tips, and insights? Check out all of our recent social media-related blog posts.

The post The Latest Evolution of Facebook: The Marketing Low-Down on 5 Recent Changes appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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