Marketing has changed over the years. Information flowed in one direction: from companies to consumers. When marketing departments created plans and budgets, the key metric was “consumer impressions:” how many people would see, hear or read the ad?
With today’s emerging media, information flows in many directions, consumer touch points have multiplied, and the old, one-size-fits-all approach has given way to precision marketing and one-to-one communications. The biggest change is how consumers have become empowered to create their own content about brands and share it throughout their networks and beyond.
Consumer impressions will remain the measurement most specifically because they are captured on all major media connection points. However, impressions give us no real sense of engagement, and consumer engagement with brands is ultimately what we’re striving to achieve. Awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level.
So, in addition to “consumer impressions,” companies need to track “consumer expressions.” An expression is any level of engagement with a brand content by a consumer or constituent. It could be a comment, a like, an uploaded photo, passing content into their networks, etc.
Don’t fight this wave of expression. Feed it with content that touches consumers’ passion points like sports, music and popular culture. On YouTube there’s content created by specific brands, however, the majority of content is created by others. Companies can’t match the volume of consumers’ creative output, but should spark it with the right type of content. Wilson suggests the media universe comes down to a blend of paid media and earned media, the latter of which is becoming increasingly important in this age of consumer expression and conversation.