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UK Social Momentum is Not Limited to Hip or Tech Brands

Published by Steve Thomson August 04, 2017

UK ‘Moves and Shakers’ feature brands of all types
Which brands can truly claim to be the talk of the town, those hot properties that seem to be attracting all the hype, and a growing viral presence? At times the marketing press seems obsessed with ‘disruptive’ brands like Uber, tech-related brands in general, or niche eateries in trendy parts of London or New York.

While hipster brands get plenty of media coverage, many of our clients are focussed on growing and maintaining much bigger brands, often in very mature product categories. Fortunately, strong buzz and word of mouth can be achieved by any kind of brand, and all brands have the capacity (and need) to improve their social standing.

In a recent year-over-year analysis of 350 consumer brands, Engagement Labs identified the top ten UK brands that saw the most improvement with respect to the quality and quantity of consumer conversations in 2017 compared with the same period last year.

These ‘Movers and Shakers’ are not from just one category – in fact, they range from technology and entertainment, to airlines, personal care and drink brands. And, the list includes a number of brands which are decades old. This demonstrates a fundamental finding—no matter the category or age of a brand, with a strong or new product, notable customer service, or talk-worthy marketing campaign, there is always an opportunity to gain momentum and improve how much and the way in which consumers talk about a brand.

Based on our proprietary TotalSocial® data, the UK ‘Movers and Shakers’ are brands that had the biggest point increase when comparing their TotalSocial scores from the six months ending June 2017 to the equivalent period in 2016. We’ve chosen to focus on brands which were already in a reasonably high spot in our rankings, and hence we’ve excluded any brand which was merely rebounding from a crisis in 2016.

Top TotalSocial UK Movers and Shakers FINAL.jpg

The ‘Movers and Shakers’ list provides a number of examples for marketers as they work to build strategies to generate more positive conversations, both online and offline, and in turn, to increase sales.

When looking at the data, we found that Jet2 increased its relevance by opening new routes and hubs and backed this with significant investment in digital media which led to increased conversation volumes, and a dramatic uplift in online sentiment and content sharing. The brand team really made the most of its launches and media investments. We’ve seen some airlines take a real caning from consumers in social media, but Jet2 shows that it doesn’t have to be this way – in 2017 they rank among the top 20 of the brands we cover for online sentiment.

In contrast, brands such as Bacardi and Yorkshire Tea owe their rise up the rankings to improved offline conversation and buzz. There is no one magic bullet to increase consumer conversations, and these ‘Movers and Shakers’ demonstrate that.

Lessons Learned: You do not have to market a new, hot technology in order to get consumers talking
Yorkshire Tea and Robinsons are clear examples that you don’t have to be a ‘sexy’ brand to earn consumer engagement.

Yorkshire Tea is a much-loved brand, and it has enjoyed strong consumer advocacy for many years, punching well above its weight in offline WOM especially. Given this, any improvement over 2016 is impressive, for the brand was doing well enough even then, with more than 75 percent sentiment in offline conversation. But that has risen to more than 80 percent this year, with witty and engaging new content featuring star triathletes the Brownlee brothers. There has also been a steady stream of creative content on Yorkshire Tea’s social feeds, and online brand sharing levels are significantly up since 2016. This is a perfect example of how to generate conversation in a very mature category

Lessons Learned: Conversation is ‘always on’
The run up to Christmas is key for VTech, but Engagement Labs’ analysis shows that categories such as kids’ toys are talked about all year, and November and December account for only 25 percent of brand buzz during the year. Hence an upturn in offline and online conversation since January can benefit VTech.

The brand has plenty to say, with lots of new products. Unlike many Apple or Samsung products, few consumers will assume everyone is familiar with VTech, so there are plenty of opportunities for discovery – and lots of parents and grandparents looking for advice and inspiration. VTech has benefitted this year from stronger engagement with online and offline influencers – the very people that others turn to for advice.

Lessons Learned: Sport is social
Sure appears to have gained social traction in 2017, which in part is due to the brand’s partnership with various Premier teams and players. This resulted in improvement in sharing of brand content (in both online and offline conversation channels). Engagement Labs’ work with key UK sports media organisations consistently shows that sports audiences and fans have strong social profiles, talking vigorously about all kinds of brands and products, not just last night’s match.

Where is Uber?
Uber doesn’t make Engagement Labs’ list, for a number of reasons. Of course the brand enjoys mixed sentiment in social media, and its controversial profile possibly makes some Uber fans cautious about declaring their love publicly.

But the brand’s main issue is its limited relevance – many people live in places not served by Uber, or simply don’t take taxis very often. This limits offline conversation volumes, which tends to be driven by brand experience or an actual need, and less by a desire to join a debate about working practices or other social issues. TotalSocial tracks conversations among people across the UK and from all walks of life and Uber has some way to go before it is genuinely part of mainstream conversation.

But our list of Movers and Shakers shows that the perfect combination of mass relevance and positive brand buzz is achievable – surely all brands would want this?

To read more about social influence in the UK, check out our Lessons From the Leaders of UK Brands.