PR Pros Need to Harness Growing Link Between Passion and ROI

Passion and sales have been linked since the beginning of time. If we are passionate about a brand or a topic, we are driven to learn more about it, we will ask our friends for more information and, if our passion and the brand match, we will do our best to buy it. Awareness and passion are not as closely linked as we have all assumed for many years in our industry. We have grown up in a communications industry that measures impressions or website visits to judge if we are reaching people.

However, as it turns out, these types of metrics tell us very little about the success of a campaign. Imagine awareness as “empty calories” and you’re on the right track.

When we are looking to monetize social media, our attention should turn to how we measure passion and its resulting impact. Here are five key ways to know if passion is likely to lead to ROI.

1. The 1,9,90 Model. We’ve tracked hundreds of brands since the dawn of social media. In all industries and countries, a simple model is at work called “1,9,90.”

When you look at the social media marketplace for a brand, less than 1% of people will be content creators. Approximately 9% will be sharers of content and 90% will lurk and learn, benefitting from the 1 and the 9. Most metrics today measure conversations, so we are tracking the 1% and some of the 9%.

However, the most impactful actions that sharers make are often without conversation. They share content with friends, like a story that their friends see, retweet or take other actions to expand the reach of your story.

If you know who is sharing your story, you know who has passion to penetrate your market. Who are your 9%?

2. Reviews + Peer Sharing = Sales. Reviews of brands by individuals are powerful. They will be a part of e-commerce for many years. However, which reviews are most important to your customers who are likely to buy? The easiest way to do this is to look at all of the reviews completed for your brand and look at which reviews are shared or recommended to peers.

It is peer sharing of reviews that leads to sales. Think of yourself. If you are going to buy a new car, do you listen to your friend who is a car expert, who shares his favorite reviews with you?

You probably do. So both the original review and the peer-share of the review, together, link passion and action. In the future, we’ll have a new version of a net promoter score.

3. Improving your intuition. Our customers know if we know them. They don’t articulate this, but they can tell if we “get who they are.” The easiest ways to do this are quite simple, on their surface, but require an intensity of focus to get right. Here are three key ways:

a) Timing of your story: What time of day is the peak time for your customers to speak each day of the week? Do you time your information to reach them effectively?

b) Right channel: Which social channels are most important for each target audience? Are you aware of the priority channels by brand, topic or subtopic? Facebook may be great for one topic, while Twitter is best for the same brand, but with a different topic.

c) Right images: Which photos resonate with the target audience you are trying to reach? If you put a wide range of images on your Facebook page, for example, but you are trying to reach a specific target group, you will desensitize the audience.

Without saying, the audience knows “they don’t get us” because you are sharing images that appeal to 18-30 year old men and you are trying to reach 18-30 year old women.

4. How to find your brand’s story: When your customer is passionate to learn more, they will search, often multiple times, to find what they need. All we need to do is make sure the right aspect of our brand’s story is available at a moment’s notice.

To get there, we need to imagine every search query that our customers, present or future, would use, look at what is on that first screen and then start using keywords correctly to ensure our story matches up with each query.

Think of it this way. What are the trending searches related to your brand? Are you using the right keywords and are you making it possible for your highest information seeking future customers (those who search) to find your story (right keywords), so that they can be empowered to learn more.

5. Measuring share of conversation: Don’t continue to measure impressions, page views and other awareness metrics, then declare victory. Start measuring share of conversation. If you told me you have 10% market share, you would then share a detailed plan on how you will get to 15% market share by the end of the year.

What is your share of the online conversation for the brand category of importance to you? How will you go from 10% to 15%?

The short answer is you won’t accomplish your goals by simply putting more content into the market. You will succeed if you are enabling your customers to share their passion with their friends. Define the online market you want to reach and measure your presence.

In summary, find ways to reach the right customers, enable them to tell your brand’s story and watch how passion drives share of conversation and sales for your company. Your new sales force is waiting. PRN


small_Bob PearsonBob Pearson is president of W20 Group. He can be reached at


What the ‘1,9,90 Model’ Means for Communicators

Human beings love to follow patterns. It’s how we’re wired. We process and store information in a linear way, which helps us remember the alphabet or a language. We’re also triggered by content that we trust, whether it is an image that wakes up a past experience or a friend who tells us to check something out. The result is that we all end up playing very distinct roles in the social media ecosystem.

The “1%,” in this case, are not the richest people. Rather, they are the bloggers, forum posters, video reviewers and journalists who create content. They focus on telling a story and are seen as the experts for a topic. Our algorithms show that there are never more than 50 people who drive the majority of share of conversation for a brand or a topic in a given country or language.

The “9%” are highly active online. It’s what many of us reading this column do. We recommend, share, sign up, download, comment and other actions that let our communities and our peers know what we think about certain topics. In many respects, this group serves as the “trust filter” for a marketplace. If the sharers think something is worthwhile, we tend to all agree. We have found that if a topic is super passionate, e.g. fitness, we may have up to 20% sharing, although almost never more than 20%.

The “90%” are the great majority of any market. They lurk and learn. This rather large group is satisfied with using search or consuming the content of their peers. They decide how compelling the 1% and the 9% really are in telling your brand’s story.

The biggest change of all relates to who “sells” your product. Increasingly, it is not the company who makes the product. It is the customers and their friends in the marketplace who decide what will sell and for how long. — B.P.

The story originally ran in the Feb. 10, 2014 issue of PR News. 

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