How To Find Online Promoters and Detractors

futurelab default header

Guest Post by: Monica (Market Sentinel)

Who are the people who are most likely to spread good (or bad) will about your brand? We look at ways to find these people online.

Every brand has its share of superfans and critics. Naturally, we seek to connect with both. After all, it’s the superfans, brand promoters, who can spread word of our awesomeness to their family and friends. Similarly, it’s the critics, brand detractors, who can wreak word-of-mouth havoc on our brand image and reputation. Our goal is to reach out to both camps in order to sway the detractors back on our side and encourage the promoters to keep on promoting.

But who are these promoters and detractors?

A Google Search for “promoters and detractors” turns up a huge list of pages on the “Net Promoter Score”, one of the most popular ways to measure customer loyalty.

The Net Promoter Score is a measure based on one single question: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a friend of colleague?” The score is obtained by subtracting the proportion of detractors from the proportion of promoters (the higher your Net Promoter Score, the better).

While this popular measure provides a beautifully simple way to gauge positive recommendations, it has several shortcomings:

  • What people actually say doesn’t necessarily reflect what they actually do.
  • Promoters are widely variable – some might talk about you all the time, to a huge range of people, while others might only recommend you to a few close colleagues.
  • The Net Promoter score tells you little about who your promoters are, or what they care about.

Fortunately, social media can help us address these shortcomings by enabling brands to identify its promoters and detractors online. Here are a few ideas; feel free to add yours in the comments.

Look at your sphere of Twitter Followers

If you’re a big brand with thousands of followers, this might seem daunting. Instead, focus your attention on

  • Who talks about you the most
  • Whose posts are retweeted the most

For example, the recent Twitter storm against the re-released McRib sandwich was spread by just a handful of influential detractors. Skyttle Realtime found that the bulk of retweeted comments stemmed from comedian @LisaLampanelli and hip hopper @CurrenSy_Spitta.

It’s interesting that, prior to McDonald’s sponsored Tweet, the McRib was doing quite well amidst an undercurrent of buzz from fans of the sandwich. And yet, it was the voice of the detractors that put the McRib in the spotlight, for better or worse.

Look at your Facebook fans

Facebook is interesting. As fans, they are all your promoters, or are they? The recent Cooks Source copyright fiasco showed how even detractors will “like” a brand so that they can post scathing comments on the brand’s wall.

But who’s voices are the loudest? And what are the issues that get them talking?

To find out, look to the Facebook wall to find

  • The posts that get the most “likes”
  • The posts that get the most comments

For example, we used Skyttle Friends to discover who was most active on the Cooks Source Facebook page. The person most involved in discussions (based on number of comments) is Marjorie McAtee, a freelance writer who’s been heavily involved in discussions around Cooks Source, both on Facebook and Twitter.

In the case of Cooks Source, where the majority of outcry took place on the brand’s Facebook page, engaging with people like Marjorie could have made the difference between weathering a crisis (a la Gap logo) or drowning under the storm (Cooks Source is ending publication and its Facebook page has been taken down).

Look at the broader web

There may be thousands of bloggers, news articles and forum posts mentioning your brand. But who are the promoters and detractors that matter the most?

One way to approach this is to use a tool like tweetmeme to find people whose brand-related articles are frequently shared on Twitter.

For example, a tweetmeme search for “kindle” shows how articles on sites like Mashable, Techcrunch, Engadget and similar tech blogs are frequently retweeted. These promoters are surely on Amazon’s watch list, but Amazon can do even better by looking at the stories which get the most attention. Here, it’s all about Android. So if Kindle wants to engage with its promoters, a worthwhile conversation point might be mobile phone applications.

Look at influencers around topics related to your brand

So far we’ve been talking about promoters and detractors who are already talking about you in the public domain. But what about people who have yet to make a peep? How do you reach out to these potential promoters?

One approach is to look at prominent voices around topics related to your brand. For example, if you’re a running shoe brand, find out who’s influential on topics around running, training, and gear, then engage with those people to draw their attention to your brand.

We’ve done this ourselves using our own influence metrics for brands such as Volkswagen, who recently used our tools to find influential speakers on “hot hatchbacks” to invite to an exclusive track day for the new Golf GTi. The results speak for themselves:

[Influence analysis] gave us a sound statistical way to identify key online speakers around VW and our campaign. [Online monitoring] let us identify the main topics of conversation and the sentiment expressed around the campaign.

We established that the volume of comments went up and the sentiment rose as a result of our activity during the campaign. The analysis gave us some really sound insights on which to base future social media strategy, which will be a fundamental part of our marketing plans in the future.

More things to keep in mind

  • The people with the most followers and fans aren’t necessarily your biggest promoters / detractors. For example, the Telegraph recently reported that popular Twitter users have little online influence, while Forrester’s recent Peer Influence Analysis showed that 0% of online influence comes from 16% of users.
  • Don’t restrict your focus to promoters; an influential detractor can be detrimental to your brand’s reputation as demonstrated by the recent Cooks Source copyright fiasco.
  • The only way to influence promoters is to listen to their conversation and reach out around topics that interest them. For example, YoBaby Yogurt engages with moms on topics about their babies, not necessarily related to yogurt.
  • Influencing detractors is largely a matter of timing and tone. For example, two recent social media crises – Gap’s logo debacle and the Cooks Source blunder – had dramatically different outcomes due to the timing and tone with which the brands engaged ongline.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of the long tail – connecting with less influential promoters and detractors can have ongoing benefits. For example, Zappos’s now famous use of Twitter to connect with its customers has garnered the company a huge following, not only among shoe-loving online shoppers, but among anyone interested in novel approaches to customer service.

Original Post: