You’re in Good Hands…Really?

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When we talk about the changes that digital marketing and especially social media have made in the way we do business today, one thing we have to consider is the fervent intensity with which the public now examines claims made by advertisers – and the lightning speed with which any disconnect between the objectively observable reality and advertising message is revealed.

That’s a lesson Allstate Insurance is learning right this moment. The company featured the Hurricane Sandy-devastated home of Sheila and Dominic Traina in one of their recent commercials, in a spot that focused on how caring and compassionate their insurance agents are, but according to local news reports, the real story is that the Traina’s are far from satisfied with Allstate. They’ve only been offered $10,000 for their home, and aren’t one bit happy about it.

Why would you choose this couple to feature in your advertising?

As marketers, we really need to be confident and secure in the knowledge that any time we use a case study or personal example to tout our own products and services, the customers involved were actually satisfied. This is important for national brands, but we think it’s even more important for small businesses that serve focused or niche communities. It only takes one story like the Trainas’ to sway the opinion of a small, tight-knit community. Isn’t it worth the time to double check your sources before you run the story?

Social media has encouraged a strong sense of skepticism among us. The proliferation of amazing claims and jaw-dropping videos (remember the eagle that snatched the baby in Montreal?) have trained us to believe only reluctantly. Any hint that something might not be 100% true brings out legions of people who want to discuss the situation in excruciating detail. Imagine being the business owner at the middle of that conversation. Everywhere you turn, you’re hearing people talk about how your organization is dishonest and cannot be believed. How do you think that influences your current and potential customers?

Smart social media marketing means being aware of the public’s tendency to skepticism, and present information that is true, verifiable, engaging and amazing – all at the same time. We know, easier said than done – but it gets much easier with a plan and practice. In the weeks to come, we’ll be discussing what goes into that plan and practice. If you’re a small business owner, you won’t want to miss it!

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