RETURN ON RELATIONSHIP – How to Cultivate Passion Between Consumers and Brands

We say we LOVE our Starbucks coffee or LOVE our Converse Kicks.  But are our feelings about brands really like romantic relationships?

Social media experts Ted Rubin and Kathryn Rose, authors of “Return on Relationship,” believe that how brands and customers relate to one another is exactly like romance.

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You’ve heard of “Return on Investment” or ROI?  Rubin and Rose define “Return on Relationship” or ROR, as “the value, both perceived and real, that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship.”

The authors say that relationships should be developed in a transparent and honest way in order to get something valuable back from them. They note that as with dating somebody, these bonds take time and cannot be rushed or forced. I’m sure we all know artificial relationships like that usually don’t end very well.

What I found most compelling about “Return on Relationship” is the discussion on how brands have become all about the consumer.

“In essence, consumers now own your brand, and if enough consumers say negative things about it, you lose credibility,” Rubin and Rose write. “…When you listen to your consumers as though they are brand owners, you’re showing them respect — and in this social media world, authentic respect is one of the greatest customer experiences we can provide.”

Social media has created a two-way communication channel between brands and their users. This means that social is not just a way for brands to reach out, but that it is also a place for consumers to give their opinions, feedback, and share their experiences.

This is exactly where brand advocacy stems from. Brand advocates are the people who admire your company, believe in it, and will back it up without needing to be paid to do so. Brand advocates are crucial to any business, because let’s be honest, there’s no one better to have your back than the people who believe in you the most.

At Pongr, brand advocates support their favorite brands through the most natural way possible — photo sharing.

Pongr enthusiast Nancy C. showed her love of Mountain Dew by setting up her cans to say it for her on Valentine’s Day.

Toning down their romance metaphor, the authors also re-examine what it means to be a “friend” with someone on social media:

“In today’s digital age, the word friend means (more often than not) that you exchanged a keystroke with someone. When we’re concentrating on developing relationships, however, we need to (in Ted’s words) take back the word friend and add value to it.”

One person can have a million followers on Twitter or thousands of friends on Facebook, but how strong are those relationships? It’s the conversational and honest engagement with consumers, on a daily basis, across social networks, that will create long lasting connections.

Facebook itself recognizes this with their “Talking About Us” number on brand pages. It’s no longer about the number of page likes, which is a one-time action that may have been motivated by a discount code or special offer. Talking About Us measures how engaged fans are on an ongoing basis — how often they are liking, sharing and commenting on the daily conversations started by brands.

Pongr’s direct response technology helps brands and customers feel closer to each other. There are many picture-sharing apps and services out there, but when fans share pictures through Pongr, they receive an instant message back with an exclusive brand offer or call to action.

We help keep the conversation – or that Return on Relationship – alive and thriving.

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