Note: Image is a real-time search on Twitter for Manchester United
With the rise in consumer-generated content – an increase in people willing to create it and wanting to consume it – we are going to see the creation of something called the “Semantic Web”. This means the web isn’t going to be based, solely, on set content like it is now, but rather around people’s sentiment around topics, ideas, organizations, people, etc.
We already can begin to see the rise of the semantic web through things like Twitter, where we can search real-time sentiment on a topic. For instance, I learned about Michael Jackson’s death not on a news site, but rather on Twitter! We even see Twitter being integrated into Bing’s search results.
Even sites like GoodGuide, which help consumers find healthy, socially responsible products, are establishing the semantic web by having people rate products they feel are the best.
Or who needs to research a product, when they can use Facebook Connect to message all their friends who have the same product and ask them how they like it and would they recommend buying it!
This is a very interesting concept to take into consideration by brands as the web and how we use it continues to evolve!
So, what does this mean for brands?
Less control of external communcation!
What Marty Neumeier says about brand, “It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is” is only going to become more and more prevalent as consumers become less and less dependent on established web content/messaging and look more to sentiment from friends, family and other consumers to make their buying decisions!
We already know that 74% of consumers’ purchase decisions are influenced by the opinions of others, and online social network users are 3 times more likely to trust their peers over advertising when making a decision. In addition we know people trust their own experience (58%), followed by word-of-mouth (51%) when short-listing brands. And only 17% consider advertising in this process! (note: figures from Bazaarvoice)
So what does this tell us?
It tells us that delivering on the brand promise consistently and continuously, through product/services, customer care (post-purchase experiences), new innovations and corporate responsibility are becoming a brand’s strongest force when influencing purchase decisions!
This is because these elements stimulate word-of-mouth. Or in terms of the semantic web: stimulating sentiment that, if done correctly, is consistent with how the organization wants to be perceived!
So let’s re-look at the brand experience cycle I wrote about in September:
Making promises is something the organization usually creates for the brand. But as the semantic web begins to take charge, the brand’s customers will be the dominant ones making those promises!
So, it becomes more and more essential that brands do everything they can to establish their brand internally to be able to prove their brand through actions and delivering the brand promise to its customers. This will help influence how customers will communicate the brand and its promise!