Published Research

Evaluating Facebook Live for Brands

This article was originally published in May 2016.

It’s no secret that Facebook is gung-ho about its new live streaming capabilities, as are so many of its users, from famous athletes broadcasting practice time to perfect strangers streaming the miracle of childbirth (source), but the question for brands is whether Facebook Live offers them an effective and compelling social marketing strategy. The short answer is “probably yes”, but as with any new social platform, brands must act both quickly and deliberately in a way that engages followers through valuable content.

What is most encouraging today is that Facebook wants users to see Live posts. As a result, Live videos not only take precedence in a user’s news feed but also show up in a user’s notifications, an advertising space that has been largely unreachable up to this point save for games and apps. As Facebook Live moves from early adopters to the early majority, Live posts can expect unparalleled organic results. In my company’s first early experiment with Facebook Live, our post reached more than 4 times our number of page followers and more than 200 times (not a misplaced decimal) our average post, all without spending a cent on advertising. Furthermore, Live posts highly encourage if not rely on engagement, resulting in a greater amount of shares, comments and reactions. In our experiment, we also found that reactions were 98.5% positive (Facebook likes and loves considered positive, hahas and wows considered neutral, and sads and angers considered negative).

Aside from the quantifiable, our Facebook Live experiment also provided an array of intangible benefits. For instance, it allowed us to engage with a large number of potential leads and current customers at once, fielding common questions and concerns in a manner similar to live television when paired with social media. In addition, planning and preparation was minimal, especially when considering that our video relied on user-driven content. Altogether, we spent no more than 5 hours planning the event, and the only resources required were an iPad and presenters. Moreover, the post continued to reach users after its air time, as Facebook automatically archives Live posts as discoverable videos (which can also be embedded onto other sites) immediately after the broadcast ends.

To optimize your Facebook Live strategy, Facebook offers a number of quick tips. Additionally, there are a few other practices to consider:

  • Focus on content that encourages engagement, as comments, reactions and shares increase organic reach.
  • Offer valuable content that your fans and followers cannot find elsewhere: backstage footage, exclusive interviews, product launches, or even a Q&A with an executive or celebrity.
  • Plan a recurring schedule that you can advertise to your followers (i.e. “Join us every Wednesday at 7pm for an exclusive interview with one of our artists”). When deciding upon a frequency (i.e. daily, weekly, etc.), consider the availability and novelty of the content you are looking to provide.
  • Design with evergreen in mind. Since Facebook Live posts are automatically added to your albums after their initial broadcast, followers will be able to find them as long as they remain on your Facebook page. When speaking about a time-sensitive matter, such as asking fans to register for an event or answering a question about price, be sure to present this information in a general way or plan to hide or remove your video from public view after the information has become obsolete.
  • Set aside an advertising budget to boost posts that you would like to reach a larger audience. This concept will especially become more of a necessity as Live usage reaches the late majority.
  • Include a call-to-action to encourage viewers to take the next step, such as directing them to a website or reminding them to subscribe.
  • Take advantage of Facebook Live API to create additional experiences for your followers.

Perhaps the strongest word of wisdom at this point would be to take advantage of this platform while Facebook continues to promote it. If Facebook has taught us anything, it is that the company will monetize any feature that has extended beyond the early majority of usage. In other words, we can expect Live’s gargantuan organic potential to diminish as more brands begin to adopt it. After a while, Facebook will likely ask advertisers to spend to reach users.

Next Step: Looking for some extra help in creating your Facebook Live strategy? Send an email to matt.krul@gmail.com.


R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Find Out What It Means For Your Brand

This article was originally published in May 2013.

Who would’ve guessed that Aretha Franklin’s hit would’ve been so applicable to your brand? Well, at least in some ways. Respect, which can be defined as feelings of high or special regard for an individual or entity, is a fundamental basis for interpersonal relationships, and it is also a fundamental basis for the way that consumers speak about and engage with (or avoid) your brand. As a result, how greatly your brand is respected or disrespected can drive both purchase intent and word of mouth, whether positive or negative.

Here at the Center for Positive Marketing at Fordham University, we’ve studied what it means for a brand to be respected, and what we’ve uncovered is that brand respect is as significant and overt to consumer-brand relationships as it is to interpersonal relationships. Of course, there are necessary evils – brands that customers must purchase from no matter how greatly the brand is disrespected – but few brands are afforded this luxury. If your brand has any competitors – direct or indirect – brand respect can make all the difference to your business.

In our research, we’ve identified seven essential factors that affect brand respect. In order to achieve maximum respect, your brand should aim to positively satisfy or exceed all seven factors because, as we’ve found, even one negative factor can overpower all the others and lead to consumers refusing to purchase from your brand.

Feel free to sing along as you read:

Relationships

Now more than ever, the public has transparent access to the way your brand treats its employees, suppliers, community, and other stakeholders. With the rise of the Internet, social media, and other forms of communication, consumers of all kinds – including your employees and suppliers – have the ability to instantly share and access information. And while some information may be more endemic than others (think the Walmart sex discrimination case) consumers are increasingly judging your brand by the way it treats its key stakeholders, especially its employees. Our research shows that the manner in which your brand works with its employees, suppliers, and community can greatly impact how consumers respect your brand – for better or for worse – which, more importantly, correlates with purchase intent. For example, Google is cited in our research as a highly respected brand because of the way it provides its employees with daycare services, gym equipment, laundry facilities, on-site medical staff, and other employee perks to make work more convenient and enjoyable. In addition, Nike is cited as a highly respected brand for its efforts to benefit athletes in local communities through sponsorships and other opportunities. So pay close attention to how your brand is treating its key stakeholders. Consumers will notice.

Ethics

Consumers have certainly become more skeptical about business practices over the past few decades. It has arrived at the point where your brand’s moral compass can now determine whether a customer will purchase your products. Consider Chick-fil-A’s recent controversy surrounding gay rights. In our research, some consumers cite a great level of respect for Chick-fil-A because of its stance on gay rights and other issues, while other consumers speak of their outrage with this brand and their loss of respect for the company. Interestingly, these moral principles overpower product quality for many outraged consumers, who will now refuse to eat at this establishment – even if they originally enjoyed its offerings – simply because of its ethical positioning. In contrast, consumers who respect Chick-fil-A’s stance indicate little to no change in their purchase behavior. Furthermore, Budweiser is cited as a highly respected brand because of its moral positioning on drunk driving, an issue closely tied to the brand’s products. To reduce accidents and fatalities related to driving while intoxicated, Budweiser offers alternatives to drunk driving, such as working with wholesalers to provide free non-alcoholic beverages or discounts on food to designated drivers. The moral here is to think carefully about your brand’s ethical framework, especially as it relates to your brand’s products.

Scope

Why is your brand in business? The answer to this question can greatly impact whether consumers will respect or disrespect your brand. In fact, the more your mission benefits all key stakeholders – think the greatest good for the greatest number of people – the more consumers will respect your brand. For example, consumers in our research cite GoogleApple, and Microsoft as being highly respected because of their efforts to improve the planet through technological innovation. In general, the brands least respected are perceived as having inconsequential or even selfish business objectives, such as fashion brands selling an unattainable image, while the brands most respected are perceived as actively serving the world at large, such as a Nemours Children’s Hospital making sick children feel at home. In pursuit of a respectable scope, keep in mind that consumers might have different perceptions of your brand’s purpose than you do.

Product Quality

It should come as no surprise that your product drives brand respect. Likewise, our research reveals that product quality is the principal reason brands are respected while lack of product quality is the principal reason brands are disrespected. Consumers most respect brands that sell superior products at reasonable prices with a long service life. For example, in our research, Toyota and Sunbeam are referenced as two respected brands for superior product quality. Our respondents believe that Toyota delivers reliable cars that rarely break down, run efficiently, offer comfort for passengers, and never fail on the driver. Our respondents also believe that Sunbeam manufactures affordable products that last for years without a hitch. Even Snickers (a product of Mars, Inc.) is cited as respectable for delivering a consistent, high-quality product, indicating that product quality is important at every price level. And for this level of quality, all of these brands and more can expect continued patronage from consumers. Of course, the definition of quality will depend on the customer, but if you can surpass your customer’s needs and expectations, your brand will serve a greater chance of being highly respected.

Environment

Who remembers the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill? A lot of consumers in our study sure do, and many of them, despite BP’s considerable efforts to clean up the mess, have since refused to purchase gas from the energy giant unless absolutely necessary. But BP isn’t alone. Countless other brands are featured, predominantly in a negative manner, for their management of the natural and legal environment, including many financial institutions that consumers say steal from Americans and capitalize on tax loopholes. Fortunately, our research also finds that there are brands that are respected for their environmental efforts. For example, Patagonia is cited as a brand that delivers quality products without sacrificing environmental sustainability. Tesla is also referenced for its environmental impact. As it turns out, the way your brand manages the natural environment and legal environment has a profound influence on the way consumers respect your brand. Brands that commit to a positive environmental impact and play fairly in the legal sphere will find consumers who respect them and are more inclined to purchase from them, while brands that don’t will encounter highly disgruntled consumers.

Customer Service

Again, it should come as no surprise that how your brand treats its customers would determine how greatly it is respected or disrespected. In most interpersonal relationships, respect breeds respect (remember the Golden Rule). The same rule applies to relationships between consumers and brands. And just like with interpersonal relationships, one mistake isn’t going to end the relationship, as long as the mistaking party apologizes and compensates for the error. For example, many consumers in our research cite Amazon as a highly respected brand because of its efforts to quickly provide excellent service for its customers, including times when unpleasant issues arise. Apple and Best Buy are two other brands cited as providing exemplary customer support, and Starbucks’ baristas are highly regarded for their efforts to provide customers with the perfect beverage, even if they need to redo the entire order. In short, the way your brand responds to a customer service opportunity will determine how much you care about your customers, which will show them how much they should care about you. The more your brand satisfies its customers in every stage of the sales process and beyond, the more respected your brand will become and the more consumers will do for you (through positive referrals and repeat business).

Trust

The bottom line is trust. Our research shows that honesty really is the best policy. Brands that can be trusted are the ones that will be respected the most. Specifically, consumers must trust that your brand will maintain positive relationships with its stakeholders, build a strong ethical framework, commit to a worthy scope or purpose, sell high-quality products, honorably manage the natural and legal environment, and treat customers with respect. Like with any interpersonal relationship, this trust will take time to build as your consumers learn more about your business practices and goals. For example, our respondents trust that Ben & Jerry’s will work to make the world a better place. They also trust that New Balance will deliver a durable and affordable product, and they trust that Whole Foods and Trader Joes will continue to look after the well being of their customers when it comes to nutrition. And these brands will be well rewarded for their efforts because consumers who can trust your brand will purchase from you more and speak highly about your brand with others.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T should mean a great deal to your business. Respect breeds respect, so as long as you are genuinely treating all stakeholders with the highest respect – through your actions, not just your words – consumers will respect you, too – through both actions and words.

Matthew Krul, a marketing strategist, is currently employed as a Marketing Associate for Kaplan Test Prep. The opinions expressed in this article are completely his own and do not reflect the view of Kaplan Test Prep, Fordham University, Facebook or any other entity.

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