Course corrections are as inevitable in marketing as they are out on the ocean, but the indicators requiring the change are much less obvious. And agencies will miss these warning buoys if they’re not picking out the correct voices to listen to in the cacophony that prevails online.
We’ll explore two ways top agencies extract meaningful insight from the chaos and alter a brand’s course with AI analytics-informed insight. And the focus is on two ways because agencies can guide brands to either turn into or away from the noise. The decision depends on what’s driving the action, of course. And each requires careful consideration.
Understanding Directions for Altering a Brand’s Course
When sailing and one realizes it’s time to change course, the captain can either jibe or tack. “Jibing is when you turn the boat away (bear away) from the wind and bring the stern across the wind. Unlike tacking where you turn toward the wind (head up) and bring the bow across the wind. This luffs the sails and takes all the power out of them. When jibing, the sails are powered up through the entire maneuver and thus more care and control is required.”
And course corrections for brands come with a similar set of options.
Agencies can help brands meet challenges head on and dive into the midst of existing conversations, sometimes even attempting to wrest control of a topic away from a competitor or detractor. Or they can guide brands toward taking another path, particularly when there’s a groundswell of support for an opposing viewpoint. We’ll look at each in turn.
Preparing to Jibe: Taking a Brand into The Thick of Things
When a crisis hits, a brand needs information about what is happening before responding. In any way. And not just any information though. They require very targeted intel that gets to the heart of the matter and reveals where the overarching sentiment is landing.
But brands are also faced with a time crunch. A response must be pretty immediate, so an agency has to coordinate this effort as it races a clock that’s been ticking for a bit. Shortening how much of a head start an “issue” has is important as well. And social monitoring does that.
For example, if an agency monitoring social media for a cosmetics company was seeing a distinct drop in passion intensity:
Or a spike in negative sentiment – it would explore the disruption and see what the conversations were about.
Having real-time social media monitoring at play would give these agencies indicators ahead of a crisis. Or at least as the crisis hit. This way, they could begin crafting a response as immediately as it happens.
Crisis or Opportunity?
Here, they could view the conversation as a category opportunity (rather than a crisis, as it isn’t directed at any specific brand) to offer a skincare line that was more about enhancing natural beauty than covering it up with foundation.
This may be intel a competitor is already acting on. But a search of “natural beauty” doesn’t show any brands leaving a wake in that conversation . . . yet:
It would be a bold “into the wind” course correction for a cosmetics company to charge into this conversation, assuming they wanted to. It could be amazingly successful for the right brand. And feeling out influencers in the space to help crowdsource audience ideas around creating a #naturalbeauty campaign might lead to a new line of business for a brand ready to take that on.
Or maybe they’d like to monitor that conversation and see where it goes. And instead take an entirely different approach . . .
Ready About! Hitting Reset and Finding a New Way Forward
Exploring the flip side of the coin, a brand may want to focus on the positive sentiment being expressed and amplify that way. The goal here is to reverse the negative spike with a change in direction that takes them away from the fray. And sailing toward less troubled waters:
The conversation here offers many mentions of folks seeking makeup offering anti-oil ingredients and makeup remover.
A cosmetics brand that may not be ready for a ‘natural beauty’ line likely already has a makeup remover product in place though! Building on that conversation, and possibly with the help of an unintentional influencer, could be a new direction for a brand to pursue. And humor often resonates well online regardless:
Though sometimes humor just won’t work. And it’s important to understand those distinctions as well.
Nike’s latest shoe offering, that was set to promote the Betsy Ross flag, offers a thought-provoking case in point. The sentiment was strong – and clear:
No amount of humor would have turned this around.
Allowing the sails to drop for a bit and taking a moment to rethink the path forward here was wise. The brand listened to the sentiment its consumers expressed and made the most informed choice for its base, canceling the shoe’s sales.
And that is what’s key here: This data points and insight will vary for every situation, and having a solid sense of how consumers are reacting to a topic, as it happens, is crucial. As is having someone on constant watch who understands brand priorities and potential paths forward.
Because oftentimes, a course correction is necessary outside of any type of crisis. Let’s look at when/why that is.
Correcting a Brand’s Course Depends on Which Way the Wind Blows
A well-researched campaign is likely to do well online – particularly if you’ve done your due diligence with social listening. But online is fickle and things can change in an instant.
Outside of crisis response, agencies need to guide brands to make course corrections for any number of reasons, including:
- A new competitor product was just released and it’s impacting the brand’s campaign
- Influencers have stopped performing as agreed and new influencer agreements need to happen
- Something has happened in a geographic area where the brand is hosting an event, so plans need to be tweaked
- A weird internet challenge just popped up and it’s something that could positively (or negatively) impact the brand
- An unexpected influencer has mentioned the brand – either explicitly or via visual imagery – and it’s important to make the most of that momentum
Or maybe a campaign just isn’t going as planned and it’s time to rethink the marketing approach.
Understanding trends in a given space, thanks to constant, diligent social media monitoring, helps an agency keep its eye on the horizon. And allows it to turn the brand’s marketing into or away from the online chatter, as needed.
Lacking real-time social media analytics, an agency is sailing without the proper navigational tools and will get lost at sea. Eventually sinking and taking the brand along with it. Reach out for a demo and we’ll throw you a life raft to see that this doesn’t happen!