Friday, May 13, 2016

How Global CPG Brands Can Win Back Loyalty


CPG Brand Strategy For Survival

Branding Strategy Insider helps marketing oriented leaders and professionals like you build strong brands. BSI readers know, we regularly answer questions from marketers and journalists everywhere. Today we hear from Kathie, Editor of Store Brand Magazine in Boston, Massachusetts who asks these questions about the state of CPG brands

1. What are some of the most significant reasons for consumers’ waning trust in and loyalty for big CPG brands? With the advent of the Internet, people have much better access to information including product and brand reviews and feedback. Due to corruption in big government, big business and even big religion (the movie Spotlight), people’s trust in large institutions and their products and services is waning. Further, there is a movement toward “local” businesses, products and food choices.

Regarding the food category, people are increasingly opting for fresh (unprocessed) and organically grown foods with all natural ingredients. Also, consider the big brands that have disappointed people, from BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill and Chipolte’s e. coli outbreaks to Volkswagon’s emissions scandal and the increasing distrust of GMOs and the companies behind them. And consider the impact of well-publicized corporate inversions (avoiding US taxes by relocating overseas) on the general perceptions of large companies.

People are even so tired of a federal government that seems gridlocked and unable to meet their needs that more and more experts are writing about the power for substantive change residing primarily at the municipal level.

So, in general, people are much more apt to trust people and organizations they know locally rather than giant global corporations. Overlay these trends with the continued growth of strong store brands of comparatively equal or high quality and the difficulty of breaking through the increasingly diverse and disparate media sources to build brand awareness and preference, and one can understand what large CPG brands are up against.

Having consulted for a couple of large CPG conglomerates, it is apparent to me that at least some of the largest firms have become so systematized in their brand and project management functions that anticipating customer needs and innovating new solutions have taken a back seat to day-to-day financial management and promotions to move cases.

2. Will the big CPG brands ever recover the drawing power they had in the past? Why or why not? To win back consumers, CPG brands need to become more authentic and transparent. It wouldn’t hurt if they could stand for something important and share those important values with their customers. Tesla is doing it with environmental consciousness, as is Patagonia. Dove is doing it with its body image campaign. And Pedigree is doing it with its “We love dogs” approach to its brand.

3. What advantages do retailers have over the big brands when it comes to consumer perception? Consumers have come to love some store brands. Witness the Wegmans brand, headquartered in my hometown of Rochester, New York. Their store brand is perceived to be of high quality and they continue to selectively replace national brands with their store brand. And consumers often make their purchase decisions based on where they intend to shop first and then which brands to purchase only after they have entered the store of their choice.

4. What steps could retailers take to ensure continued loyalty and trust for both new and existing private brand products? Offer a consistently good quality and a good value. Make the store shopping experience pleasant and rewarding for their customers. And put their customers in the right mood (research has shown that happy shoppers spend more) upon entering the store by doing something to surprise and delight them at the store entrance.

5. Any other comments? Stores have the advantage of direct contact with the consumer and greater access to store sales data. They also maintain databases of consumer purchases, which can be mined for insights, especially with the emergence of big data analytics. This gives them asymmetrical consumer intelligence and interaction advantage to CPG firms.

Every brand manager must keep in mind that he or she needs to build brand awareness, relevant differentiation and emotional connection to the consumer. Brands should stand for something, they should possess strong values and they should tell compelling stories. Further, they should be very consistent in their brand cues (brand identity system elements) across products. This is what leads to strong brands.

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Ultimate Planning Checklist for Successful Webinars


Webinars are a high form of content marketing, as they can breathe life into static content such as a case study or research report. An engaging webinar is like a well-produced radio show with pictures. It is a five-act, mini-theatrical event.

Done well, a webinar can help you move your buyer’s sales needle from “just researching” to “ready to buy now.” In the latest CMI research, two-thirds of B2B marketers used webinars and 66% found them to be effective.

Two-thirds of B2B marketers used webinars & 66% found them to be effective via @cmicontent #research
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As with any well-produced event, success starts with planning. For a demand-generation webinar, it should take about six to eight weeks from the time you say “let’s go” to show time. Now, let’s get on with this show and the five acts of a successful webinar.


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A webinar is about more than just technology. It’s about aligning business drivers with desired outcomes all while managing the ever-changing scheduling, logistics, and human factors.

The glue that holds all of this together is a deadline-driven project-management methodology, a set of best practices, and use of email and webinar metrics to benchmark performance across the entire webinar life cycle. Each act’s objectives and task checklist offer you a strong basis for a successful methodology.

Act 1 – Setting the stage for a smooth production

Act 1-webinar-lifecycle

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Top-line objectives:

  • Determine webinar objectives and desired outcomes.
  • Identify technology tools and team skills needed.
  • Build a project plan and successfully kick this off.


  • Determine the content type: case study, tutorial/how-to, or compliance and standards.
  • Detail the target audience.
  • Develop a working title.
  • Identify audience pain points this webinar addresses.
  • Consider if this a “must-have” or “nice-to-have” topic.
  • Identify sources for content.
  • List the business objectives.
  • Determine the call to action (before, during, and after the webinar).
  • List success factors and desired outcomes.
  • Determine when to go live.
  • Develop a project timeline.
  • Identify who will be part of the project team.
  • Determine whether internal and/or external speakers will be used.
  • Evaluate which webinar hosting platform will be used.
  • Determine hosting platform compatibility/integration with marketing automation tools.
  • Assess audio requirements.
  • Hold a kick-off meeting to set the tone with all players.
  • Follow up the kick-off meeting to get buy-in and start the production.

Act II – Attracting the right audience

act 2-webinar-lifecycle

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Top-line objectives:

  • Develop the email invitation and email campaign schedule.
  • Identify list-sourcing options beyond your house list.
  • Execute the email campaign.


  • Select a winning topic that connects with your target audience (e.g., solving a pain point, describing how to get better outcomes, or keeping the audience in the know with industry and market shifts).
  • Develop an audience profile to align with the topic and value proposition.
  • Detail industries, job titles/functions, revenue thresholds, and geographic regions of your audience.
  • Size and source your audience beyond your house list to meet your registration goals.
  • Identify list-sourcing options (e.g., media sponsors, trade associations, purchased lists).
  • Determine the email invitation format: HTML, text, or both.
  • Ensure that the email invite addresses the problem statement and deliverables of what people will learn.
  • Develop the webinar registration landing page (webinar hosting or marketing-automation platform).
  • Create the email campaign drip schedule (how many and when to start).
  • Develop attention-getting email subject lines for each drip.
  • Establish benchmark metrics for the email campaign and daily registration tracking.
  • Make sure emails are CAN-SPAM compliant.
  • Identify social media promotion channels.
  • Test email and social media campaigns before launching.
  • Execute the email marketing campaign and start daily tracking of registrations.
  • Use email and registration metrics to determine whether the message is connecting to attract the desired audience and registration outcomes.

Act III – Engaging your audience

act 3-webinar-lifecycle

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Top-line objectives:

  • Gather and convert registration data into actionable intelligence.
  • Hold a table-read meeting to brainstorm structure and flow.
  • Hold the first dress rehearsal to perform the initial walk-through.


  • Monitor the key email webinar invitation metrics (sent, hard bounces, soft bounces, delivered, open rate, click rate, unsubscribes/opt-outs, and spam complaints).
  • Monitor the key webinar performance metric before you go live. (The click-through ratio [CTR] measures how many people register vs. those who don’t complete the process.)
  • Gather and analyze additional registration data from the landing page (e.g., what you can learn about the organization, industry, and job function; what would they like to get out of attending the webinar; how did they hear about this webinar?).
  • Create a dashboard to view daily registration tracking progress (e.g., email campaign metrics by touchpoint, audience demographics, and daily registration by touchpoint including CTR metrics).
  • Monitor campaign metrics to see if they are on track and adjust the campaign messaging, if necessary.
  • Consider getting fence sitters (those who opened email but did not complete registration) to commit by sending reminder emails.
  • Schedule one hour for the table read of the webinar.
  • Prepare and send the table-read meeting agenda for key organizers and speakers.
  • Hold the table-read meeting (virtual or in person):
    • Ensure that webinar content matches the invitation.
    • Discuss structure, timing, and flow.
    • Create a production script – identify each segment, duration, and speaker.
    • Prepare PowerPoint slides and template.
    • Make sure speakers have appropriate audio devices, supply them with a USB headset, if needed.
    • Schedule 90 minutes for the first dress rehearsal.
  • Prepare and send the first dress-rehearsal agenda.
  • Hold the first-dress rehearsal:
    • Share insights gathered from daily registration.
    • Modify and optimize the content, as needed.
    • Walk through the slides.
    • Test speakers and audio devices.
    • Begin development of questions for online polls (ice breaker, closing, and next steps).
    • Schedule 90 minutes for the second dress rehearsal.
  • Create six bookend slides – splash screen, speaker intro, who’s in the audience, housekeeping, call to action, ask the experts.
  • Create the final survey to measure satisfaction and other qualitative feedback.
  • Draft thank-you emails for all attendees and no-shows with a link to view the webinar and any other next steps to continue the conversation.
  • Test the recording software.
  • Hold the second dress rehearsal:
    • Perform a timed run-through of the slides and polls (ice breaker, closing, and next steps).
    • Optimize the moderator’s role.
    • Create seed questions for the Q&A.
    • Does the story sound natural and authentic?

Act IV – Going live

act 4-webinar-lifecycle

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Top-line objectives:

  • Perform the final sound check.
  • Go live and debrief.
  • Execute immediate post-webinar action steps. 


  • Prepare the webinar-day agenda.
  • Meet with your team one hour before the webinar.
  • Perform the final sound check.
  • Review the slide deck one last time.
  • Make sure polls, survey, and seed questions are loaded into the webinar platform.
  • Set up a Plan B – back-up audio and network.
  • Record the webinar and assign two people to create a backup recording.
  • Give team a debriefing number to call after the webinar.
  • Launch the splash screen at least 15 minutes before going live.
  • Silence all ringers and anything that can beep or bark.
  • Mute all non-speakers.
  • Send a welcome message to audience one to two minutes before starting the broadcast.
  • Start on time, welcome the audience, and have fun.
  • Monitor real-time tracking of performance metrics to measure engagement.
  • Deliver a clear call to action and next steps to your audience one to two minutes prior to adjourning.
  • End on time, and thank the speakers and the audience.
  • Get on a separate call for a 15-minute team debrief.
  • Edit the webinar recording to remove housekeeping instructions and any ums and ahs.
  • Send thank-you emails 24 to 48 hours after the webinar.

Act V – Converting your audience

act 5-webinar-lifecycle

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Top-line objectives:

  • Prepare the final metrics and analytics.
  • Convert the analytics into actionable sales follow-up.
  • Measure webinar success.


  • Gather the final life-cycle data from the marketing-automation platform and webinar hosting platform.
  • Analyze the six key webinar metrics: click-through ratio, attendee ratio, online polls, audience retention, exit surveys, and on-demand viewings.
  • Create a report with a narrative of the final metrics (e.g., email and registration metrics, daily registration tracking summary, polls and surveys, lead sources profiles, attendee details, and email campaign results).
  • Develop an actionable executive summary.
  • Determine who is sales-ready, who needs nurturing, and who is not a fit.
  • Hand off the sales-ready leads to the sales team.
  • Create a post-webinar nurturing campaign.
  • Determine whether initial planning goals were met.
  • Evaluate how effective the webinar was in meeting your commercial goals.
  • Detail the lessons learned.
  • Determine if there is enough interest for a second webinar or a series.


I am confident that if you follow this template, along with your own best practices, you will achieve your commercial demand-generation outcomes while adding value to your audiences.

To learn more and continue the webinar conversation, explore the resources that are available from Content Marketing Institute’s webinar hub.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

The post Ultimate Planning Checklist for Successful Webinars appeared first on Content Marketing Institute.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Make Ethnography Better

bloggables 3 d and four part.delineato

Ethnography has grown in the last couple of decades from a moody, friendless method in the social sciences to the belle of the business ball.

But clearly it has suffered in this rise to stardom. In the wrong hands, ethnography is now a license for the methodologically slap dash. To use the immortal words of Errol Morris, ethnography is now sometimes “cheap, fast and out of control.”

Part of the problem, I think, is that ethnography has been shorn away from anthropology. It was created by anthropologists (and to a lesser extent sociologists) and used in conjunction with anthropology (or sociology).

bloggables 3 d and four part.delineato

The advantage of adding “anthro” to “ethno” is that it allows us to put things captured in the life of consumer, user, or viewer in a larger, illuminating context. We can see, more surely, what it means. Without this larger context, ethnography devolves into simple observation, as in “this is what I saw when I was in a consumer’s home.”

Adding “anthro” to “ethno” also give us access to theoretical resources and intellectual traditions that contemporary ethnographers rarely seem to bring to bear on the problem at hand. (And I’m sure that I don’t need to say that the “problem at hand” for any ethnographer studying the ferocious dynamism of contemporary culture is usually formidable. We need any and all the powers of pattern recognition available to us. Airily dismissing the patterns made available by intellectual discipline and years of theoretical development is just dumb.)

How can we tell that someone is adding “anthro” to “ethno?” We are entitled to ask “where did you study anthropology?” (We could also use “sociology,” “film studies,” or “American culture.”) We are asking, “what do you bring to the table beside a claim to method?”

But this is only part of the problem. Too often, the researcher has no “depth of field.” He or she is incapable of seeing that this family, this home, the user, this community is a creature in motion changing in real change. Good observers have an acute sense of the historical factors at work here. They know what has happened in a very detailed way since World War II and they have a general sense of what has been happening in Western and especially American culture over the last 300 years.

bloggables 3 d and four part.delineato

This gives us a glimpse of “slow culture” as well as “fast culture.” (For more on the distinction, see my Chief Culture Officer.) And now we are really testing the abilities of the self appointed ethnographer. Do they have depth of field? Now we are entitled to ask, “tell me about any big, enduring trend in American culture. How did it take shape over time?”) (Don’t be surprised if they are astonished by the question.)

Here’s the problem. Most of the work being done by ethnographers is being done here.

bloggables 3 d and four part.delineato

But this ethnography is stripped of the things that gives it real explanatory power.

What we need is something that heads in this direction.

bloggables 3 d and four part.delineato

If ethnography is to evolve, we want to migrate in the direction of “anthro” + “slow culture.” We could think of this as a “Northwest passage” strategy. Until we find a way to connect these worlds, the Southeast sector must remain poorer and less cosmopolitan.

It’s not clear to me what the practical solution is. I did a couple of posts about the C-school idea a few years ago and discovered some of the following programs, any one (or several) of which might take up this challenge. (Notice that I am not saying these places have a solution, merely that they are the kind of places that might come up with one.)

The D school at Stanford (David Kelley)
W+K 12 (Wieden + Kennedy school, Victor a German Shepherd pointer)
The Miami Ad School (Ron & Pippa Seichrist)
The VCU BrandCenter (Helayne Spivak)
The Berlin School of Creative Leadership (Michael Conrad)
EPIC (Ken Anderson and Tracey Lovejoy)
UC Berkeley School of Information (AnnaLee Saxenian)
California College of the Arts 
Royal College of Arts
MIT Media Lab
Rhode Island School of Design
IIT Institute of Design (Laura Forlano, thank you Sergio)
Ethnography Training (Norman Stolzoff and Donna Romeo)
Consortium of Practicing and Applied Anthropology
Ohio State (Liz Sanders)
University of North Texas
Wayne State
Columbia Business School (Bob Morais)
Fordham Business School (Timothy Malefyt)
Savannah College of Art and Design (Sarah Johnson and Susan Falls)

As I was noting here, the Annenberg School at USC is coming up fast.

Finally, I recently had lunch with John Curran and he tells me that things are afoot in London. I will leave it to him to reveal the details. (John, please send me a link so that I can include it here.)

I am hoping readers will let me know the programs I have missed.

from CultureBy – Grant McCracken

Brand Simplicity Rules The Day

Brand Simplicity Rules The Day

The hardest thing you can do as a brand owner I believe is to insist on building a powerfully simple brand. It’s hard because single-mindedness is difficult in a world where the consideration set is huge and where others will quickly seek to engage you in a relentlessly upgraded features war.

Great brands telegraph simplicity – because of course they want to stand for something – and in so doing they talk directly to consumers about a direct need. As Margaret Molloy observes, “The greatest brands make life simple…They cut through the clutter by delivering what consumers want, when they want it, without hassle. By simplifying customer experience in a complex world, these brands win customer loyalty, which drives business results and creates value for shareholders.” They have, she says, worked hard to achieve minimal friction.

That matters because, as Martin Lindstrom points out, in this article from some time back, consumers lack the patience and the attention to get to know a product well: “8 out of 10 new product releases in the western world fail within the first three months…To further complicate things, the innovation time for a new product in Europe is on average 16 months but in Japan it’s only three! Let me not forget Korea. There you’ll discover the fastest innovation time in the world – with an average of only 10 weeks.” So the onslaught of new choices, and the volatility of those choices in terms of succeed/fail, are both accelerating.

The more buyers see, the more quickly they decide, one way or the other.

Simplicity is linked to understanding rather than functionality. Brands are drawn into making products that have more, and yet, when we look at hugely successful products like Apple’s iPhones, most consumers only use a tiny fraction of the capabilities. Most of us don’t buy a smartphone to explore its full potential. We buy it because it talks to our perceptions of what we want to do, believe, see, achieve in our world. And increasingly, we want that world to be and seem simpler than it probably is.

As attention spans continue to shorten, we are increasingly dependent, as Lindstrom points out, on somatic markers; bookmarks in our brain that help us remember things and associate them specifically. Simple brands look to lock in these deep, convenient associations.

Simplicity As A Driving Philosophy

Simplicity is not about a drive to budget. It’s not about making products that do less and therefore cost less. So while some people might describe house brands, clones and some parallel imports as simple, those are not the brands I am referring to here. Rather, simplicity in this context is about focus and clarity. This is about simplicity as a driving philosophy.

Evernote is a complicated product when you look under the hood, but it talks to a simple idea that busy people are infatuated with: being organized. Netflix too has rocketed into prominence and mainstream acceptance because it represents a simple way of cutting through to quality programs. In fact, in almost every case I can think of, simple brands work because they enable consumers to cut through the noise and bewilderment to find one thing they’re really looking for; one thing they’re intrigued by.

But they can’t stop there. Molloy makes the point that, “even brands with the highest simplicity scores cannot stop innovating. These leading companies must maintain their commitment to simplicity, as disrupters in every industry are ready to take their place if given the opportunity.”

So how do you do that? How do you evolve starkly? Here are four ways to manage the need to KISS with the need to shift.

1. Think life, not brand. I love this thought from Russ Meyer: “A user’s experience with a brand is just one event in an action-packed life.” It’s so easy to forget that when your working day is consumed by a particular brand or product. It’s hard not to think that what you’re doing matters to your consumers. The reality is, most of the time it doesn’t. It matters when it matters and therefore, Meyer observes, “Great brands look to where the brand and the experience fit within their user’s overall life, looking to make not just the experience easier but a user’s overall life easier.” Amazon’s 1-click, he points out, is counter-intuitive to a marketer’s wish to engage and hold, but completely sensible to a consumer because it saves time.

2. Simplicity is improvement. Instead of focusing on innovating for more, Meyer suggests that brands do the opposite. Recognize, as Apple has, that “there isn’t an end to what can be simplified and made better”. That should be the focus of change – learning how to change down, so that everything fits together more intuitively and works more simply. Apple have used this to great effect to draw and lock buyers into their ecosystem. Apple products are at their simplest and most delightful when they are activated with, and engaged through, other Apple products. That urge to resist adding more helps these brands stay clean in a cluttered world.

3. Transfer ownership. We talk so much about engagement and experience these days. One of the great things about simplicity is that minimalism hands power back to the consumer. It frees them up to imagine. So when brands deliver less, they ironically empower consumers to do more. Think of the simplicity of the Lego brick. It does what it has to do to get children (and adults) to play – and that’s its primary focus. It cuts through the potential noise of instructions and/or patterns to simply hand over the means to build, and then it steps back.

4. Begin with culture. You can’t build a simplified brand from within a tangled and complex working structure. Molloy talks about the need to build “cultures of simplicity” where she says the commitment to single-mindedness starts at the top and flows into every aspect of operations. Processes, purpose, communications … everything must be absorbable and consistent. It’s not just about having an elevator speech, it’s about having simple standards that drive pointed, searching and supportive conversations. And the push to streamline, whilst it may be driven from inside, must be motivated by, and judged on, what the consumer feels. That’s the real point of simplicity. And if that’s not the real point – then there’s a good chance your business has confused simplicity with economy (which, ironically, often leads to the search for simplicity being short-changed).

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Qualitative Researcher: The Not-So-Secret Way To Make Your Brand Viral

No one cares about your hashtag. Here's what consumers really want

 How do you get shoppers to care about a brand as un-sexy as stovetop pasta and cheese product? Hint: It’s not in the hashtags. Megan Weisberger, qualitative researcher at Miner & Co Studio, tells PSFK about her experience in breaking through the delusions of companies to get to the heart of a market: Real people.

No one wants to use your brand hashtag. Honestly.

It matters to you, The Marketer, The KPI-Achiever, The Chief Creator of Virality, and to you alone.

A few days ago, I received a brand gift out of left field, along with explicit instructions to use a four-syllable hashtag talking about how much I loved my new collection of CPG products. And, shockingly, I didn’t want to. I didn’t care about the brand, and it didn’t feel like the brand gave a damn about me.

Building a community is not about bombarding people with an innocuous marketing slogan that checks off your campaign boxes, but adds absolutely zero value to the lives of anyone who doesn’t receive a paycheck from a major corporation. It’s about loving your people, and about celebrating them as hard as you possibly can.

After a career spent building communities around the brands no one in their right minds would give one iota about (here’s to you, Hamburger Helper and Loctite Glue <3), I’m here to tell you that they’re built when you genuinely love your super fans. When you abandon the idea of being The Cool Brand and get weirdly, over-the-top enthusiastic about the product at hand, no matter how underwhelming or mundane it seems.

For the last five years, I’ve bounced between ad agencies—both traditional and ‘digital’ (whatever that actually means these days)—and huge corporations. Over and over again, regardless of the work environment, I watched brands and brand managers try to dictate who they want their fans to be, instead of embracing who they actually are. Every company on the planet wants to be the granola bar or car of choice of the young, white, liberal Millennial set with tons of disposable income to burn but, like the rest of us, these made-up unicorn people can only be fans of so many brands.

Building an excited, supportive brand community actually has a lot in common with your family, and your high school friends (you know, the ones who are probably littering your newsfeeds with posts about How To Make America Great Again right now). You don’t get to pick them, but you do have to love them. They might not be the glamorous fan archetype you were hoping for, but they’re YOURS.

Be kind to them. Love them. Tell them you love them.

At one point in my career, I was given the dubiously achievable task of getting people really excited about Hamburger Helper—the odd boxed dinner from the 1970s, light years behind the cultural zeitgeist of ‘shopping the perimeter of the grocery store,’ whose spokesperson is a four-fingered glove named Lefty. The company higher-ups were convinced that it was a dinner beloved by white, upper-class moms who drove Escalades. It wasn’t. Of course it wasn’t. But they blindly believed this because it was what they knew, and who they were. Many of them turned up their noses at the product, which, in turn, came through loud and clear in its marketing.
However, when you got outside of the glass tower, and had conversations with the people who actually eat Hamburger Helper, there was an enormous sense of pride associated with the product.

Lower-income moms were proud as hell of stretching a dollar to feed their entire family, and young men were shyly ecstatic about feeling like masters of the kitchen for the first time ever. These people were the exact opposite of ‘who the target was,’ but I started talking to them online, and celebrating their victories—no matter how minuscule—and telling them that they mattered to us.

When you hand out high fives (or, you know, ‘fours’) and talk to your fans like they’re actual people—people who you genuinely see and appreciate—they start becoming invested in the brand. When you give out an immense amount of love on the internet, it starts boomeranging back to you and, eventually, it turns into people who are willing to go to bat for your brand. They start talking about you organically, and those mentions and interactions are worth tenfold of the forced ones.

The internet is not so different from real life in that way. Be a person and be a warm, enthusiastic one. Worry less about ROI and being immensely polished. Worry more about kind, personalized interactions. Your brand community will start to grow in direct proportion to the karma you dish out, and it will be full of people who genuinely love you; not empty bot-friends who were exorbitantly paid to ‘like’ you.

Megan Weisenberger is a qualitative researcher at Miner & Co. Studio in New York. She’s spent the last five years in the NYC ad world, and gets excited about books, red wine, funny human beings and getting on airplanes.

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