The Customer is the New Brand Ambassador

Before marketing 3.0 communication between brands and customers was one way.
Mediums like Television, Print, Radio and Billboards offered one way sentiments to audiences. A customer’s “freedom to choose” was less, as customers relied on the advertised products and services of available media, and the popularity/credibility of media to make a purchase decision

In a very simple sense If you looked at a newspaper spread,The bigger the ad the greater the perceived value of the brand. This created a stronger media bias where word of mouth was in essence confirmation of social proof.
Companies were investing heavily on advertising agencies and marketing to out-position competition, And push products and services by securing spots on prime time commercial belts as well as specified positions of ads. You still see traces of this today. For instance a Superbowl Commercial spot for a 30 second ad is just over $5mn despite the downtrend in viewership.

Please note that this is not to discredit the attempts of the advertising and media agencies, These were the available media at the time and were very effective. Over the years this partnership enabled industries to bloom with fantastic creativity, helped create emotional connections with brands and their customers, inspired creatives to think outside the box to come up with “Big Ideas” and perhaps even brought families together to enjoy family time over TV favorites.
By the end of Marketing 2.0 celebrity endorsements were a frequent strategy for brands to piggy-back off the credibility and lifestyle of headliners. This association and collective bias was considered a sure way to get the attention of the market.
In walks Social Media
The internet and Social Media broke that barrier between customers and companies. The once one sided communication was now an open dialogue. Users of social media are free to engage in conversions with each other, share ideas,likes and dislikes etc.
And before you knew it social media transformed from a communication medium to a marketplace.


The need for social acceptance is primordial. As Mathew Lieberman, Professor and Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab Director at UCLA Department of Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Author of “Social” says “We are all wired to connect”
Social media provides a platform for users to interact and engage with like-minded people, to form circles of association. There is a sense of belonging. It is for this reason that we join groups, like pages, Follow influencers, share political and ideological beliefs, endorse products and services.
Social media has given the modern consumer leverage over the brands. Consumers now set the bar of what products and services they would like, How they want to be treated, What upgrades they would like to see from the products and services. If brands are unable to deliver on the consumer expectancy, The consumers do not hesitate to project their views and experience on social media.

According to Robin Dunbar, British Anthropologist and Evolutionary Psychologist researched that 148 people is the “point beyond which members of any social group lose their ability to function effectively in social relationships” this number is rounded off at 150 .
In Dunbars Research he further elaborated that the 150 people are made up of
5 intimate friends
15 good friends (including the 5 intimate friends)
50 friends (including the 5 intimate friends and 15 good friends)
150 acquaintances (all encompassing)
According to Dunbar of these we spend 60% of our time with our core groups of 50 friends
40% with the remaining 90.
The number can be derived from our brains ability to maintain memories of 150 people, as well as the time necessary to devote to the group in order to keep relationships going.

Dunbar’s number throughout history
Neolithic farming communities are known to have 150 people before splitting into a separate community
Roman military armies were approximately 150 soldiers
The work environment of 150 people results in everyone knowing each other’s name, no-line management systems or name badges, and everyone is committed to each other and the communal vision. It acts more like a network rather than a tree organization structure.

On social media the 150 rule could very well be much more due to a variety of circles. And let’s be honest there are people that we personally don’t know but are friends with on social media.
But the number 150 can still be used as a rule of thumb to understand the social influence of every user.

If one user has a bad experience with your brand, product or service you stand to lose 150 potential customers, Conversely if a user has a good experience, companies stand to gain 150 potential customers. This is the same phenomenon that is responsible for campaigns going viral. At some point the sentiment reaches a tipping point.A critical mass if you will.


Case Study Pepsi Co “Live for the Now Moments”

Pepsi is a longstanding brand that won the hearts of many over the years and despite criticism over ad campaigns still continues to be one of my favorite brands for the contributions made to empowering the sporting world.
In 2017 Pepsi had a great idea with the “ Live for now moments” campaign. Pushing the global sentiment of unity, peace and understanding featuring reality TV star Kendall Jenner as the protagonist.
The spot showed a culturally diverse group marching towards a what seems to be a police barricade. Kendall Jenner joins the crowd after a photo shoot, walks up to the police officer and hands a can of Pepsi. The officer proceeds to drink it and smile. The supers “Live Bolder, Live Louder, Live for the Now” follow
The ad itself is not short of its merits. In fact it had all the right elements to be a hit.
A good script and flow,
Excellent compositions and shots
No dialogues
A very moving song by Skip Marley
Good product placement
Overall a very powerful message.

But, No sooner the spot was uploaded to YouTube it was widely criticized for appearing to trivialize demonstrations aimed at tackling social justice causes like black lives matter.
The ad was recalled less than a week later with Pepsi Issuing a public apology stating “Clearly we missed the mark, and we apologize. We did not intend to make light of any serious issue”
While the spot was taken down from the official pepsi channel. A copy of the spot remains on Kendall Jenner’s YouTube Channel with over 15Million views, 43k Likes and 166k Dislikes
Likes to dislike ratio of 1 : 3.8 yikes!

While the ad was a PR flop don’t feel bad for PepsiCo as the stock shot up 7.1% later that year, making it one of the best performers from the slow-growth consumer packaged goods space


Over a wide ranking survey of US Millennial internet users from Roth Capital Partners it was found that

While I’m not concluding that there is a direct connection, the data points to an obvious correlation and influence. Recently there have been many celebrity endorsement flops and this Pepsi campaign happened to be an unfortunate one in a PR sense. Plus celebrities that live cushy lifestyles tend to share a lot of their personal lives and drama on social media. And this may not be the best association bias for brands that are taking on bigger responsibilities in society and pushing global sentiments.

It is very tempting to see influencers with millions of subscribers on YouTube and Instagram. And to think if 1% of that audience purchased my products it would boost awareness and sales on the short run. I’d tread very carefully here as you may want to look at more organic ways of pushing your product and focus on long term objectives.
You can however, use influencers as affiliates if

They reflect the values of your company, brand, product or service
They are do-ers and not talkers
They reflect the lifestyle of the product or service etc
But, do pay close attention to see if the influencers have polarizing audiences.

It is best if you can focus on every user, every comment, every inquiry with a personalized touch of empathy. If you have to increase the amount of labour in the social media department so be it

The sale of your product or service should not end at the financial transaction. Concentrate your efforts post financial transaction to convert the sale into a testimonial. And Negative Testimonials into positive ones by offering incentives.
The modern consumer should not be viewed as a customer. Think of them as the new brand ambassadors

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  1. My Lib - Reply

    If you already have a loyal customer base, the next step is to recruit brand ambassadors who ll help you promote and sell new and existing products.

  2. Mehnaj Patel - Reply

    This is so true. Having recently used a social influencer to promote our range of dress shoes we noticed a lot of negative comments targeting the influencer. We asked the influencer to to make a post mentioning that she was not our brand ambassador but found a good deal for her followers and offerers a 5% discount coupon. People were less critical after that and the comments were positive

  3. EmaratForex - Reply

    Sony decided that selecting brand ambassadors who like to travel, take pictures and blog would jump-start the launch of its news GPS camera. This is a product with emerging technology and we really need to let consumers see people using it, says Koba Kobayashi, director of digital imaging accessories at Sony.

    • Vidhu - Reply

      Thank you for your insight. Yes i agree. That is a smart move from Koba Kobayashi to convert or “hire” average consumers as influencers to push Sony Digital.

      Interestingly the selection process for the programme was based on the following.

      “Consumers are selected based on their devotion to a product and the size of their social circles. They are expected to tap into friends, family, groups and resources through conversations, blogs, live events and online social media”

      Social Media influencers/affiliates are very effective if they reflect the value of the product or service.

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