In our article, Doctors, Social Media, and Digital Darwinism, we took note of a new book by Brian Solis. In The End of Business as Usual, he explains how society and technology are evolving faster than many companies and medical professionals can adapt. Thus, Digital Darwinism.
Solis cautions businesses to embrace and adapt to the digital revolution and prosper or ignore it and die. When it comes to marketing via the Internet, part of your task is to determine what causes prospects to connect and how their social conversations influence your brand. Here are some thoughts from chapters in his book that directly affect your Inbound Internet Marketing Efforts.
The Co-creation of Brands
In this new social media landscape we live in, the consumer plays a critical role in the reinforcement of a brand’s identity. Each brand experience triggers an encounter that is rich with emotion. Posts, updates, tweets and other forms of self-expression become platforms for these experiences.
These shared social media experiences are exceptionally powerful.
One example given is what an airline executive discovered in an online conversation where customers were talking about his brand: “This airline sucks. When I checked in, I was told, ‘I’m sorry, there’s nothing we can do about bumping you off this flight or losing your luggage.’ Really? Well not only did you just lose a customer, I’m going to go out of my way to ensure that no one I know flies with you again.”
When these kinds of experiences are shared on social networks and elsewhere they serve as guides for other consumers seeking input and direction from peers and experts.
So the relevant question is not “Who owns the brand?” but rather “Who owns the customer relationship, or who owns the customer experience?”
Now apply this to your practice. As you engage both patients and prospect, you should design experiences based on what you learn through sharing and reviews. In other words, your prospect and patients should play a part in molding your brand.
This chapter focuses on the Millennial generation (those born between mid-1970s and the late 1990s) and why they matter to every brand.
According to a study done by Edelman Digital in February 2011, this generation has an incredibly high level of brand loyalty. Specifically:
- 70% of Millennials feel that once they find a company or product they like, they will keep coming back
- 58% are willing to share more personal information with trusted brands
- 86% will share their brand preference online
- Nearly 20% of Millennials attended a brand-sponsored event in the last 30 days
- Of those who attended, 65% purchased the featured product
This generation is also assuming the role of self-ordained experts. 47% of Millennials write about their positive experiences with companies and products online (blogs and social media sites). Conversely, 39% share negative experiences with their social networks as well.
No brand can afford to disregard the Millennial generation. They have money, they’re influential and they’re making decisions. The technology that is part of their DNA and their social network is always within arm’s reach. Even if this is not the main demographic for your practice they still greatly influence every social media conversation.
An Audience with an Audience of Audiences
Attend any large seminar and you see this all around you. As the speaker presents, you notice that their laptops, tablets and smartphones are being used for something more than note taking. Those devices are also being used as a portal to share experiences with their fans or followers. The speaker looks up hoping to catch their attention, only to see eyes dipped into their devices and the battle for eye contact is lost.
Today’s audience can capture every moment through text, video, audio and still images and then share them in real time with the hundreds or thousands of individuals in their social graphs. They are connected consumers. They are connected with other people in vast networks that are rich with interaction. Indeed, the social graphs that connected consumers are increasingly interconnected, resulting in audiences that also have audiences of their own.
Digital Influence and Social Capital
Talk about “influence” is the rage these days. Services such as Klout and Tweetlevel are busy measuring your level of digital influence based on your activity on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. By scoring influence, these services create a social hierarchy where you are ranked against other individuals based on your capacity to influence those who follow you. Social consumers receive a score based on what they do within social networks, who they know, and the activity that follows their interaction.
Brands have taken an interest in this concept because it represents an opportunity to engage connected consumers who are beyond the reach of traditional media. They can use this information to influence the behavior of “desirable consumers.” Consumers on the other hand see this as an opportunity to earn higher scores, gain status, power and recognition and also earn free products, promotions or deals.
If you can find the time, you would do yourself well by reading The End of Business as Usual. But even if you don’t read the book, you can’t afford to ignore the principles it lays out. As the author says, “Businesses that embrace and adapt to the revolution will survive the perpetual threat of digital Darwinism—and those that do not will die!