The news that Aviva are to trial a ‘positive comments only’ feedback filtering service that links into social media raises some interesting debate about ‘authenticity’ and the responsibility that Brands need to demonstrate if they want to participate in our social networks.
Allowing people to choose to post their genuinely positive experiences on Facebook and twitter, is a great way to turn satisfied customers into powerful brand advocates, and will provide Aviva with some fantastic learning in the area of ‘nudge economics’ – the power of small, highly targeted and personal messages, rather than a blanket ‘one-size-fits-all’ marketing approach.
However, when it comes to linking promotional offers to those postings, it will require a lightness of touch and a detailed understanding of social behaviour to avoid eroding the trust that all social networks rely on.
Linking offers from a Brand to a customer’s post, effectively turns a ‘reference’ into an ‘advertisement’, and how many of us would-be cynics would soon start to question whether a friend was actually getting a discount, or a small cut of any business generated by the ‘advert’ they posted?
There is no suggestion that rewarding customers is part of the service that Aviva are currently offering, but it is quite easy to see that it is not a very big step for some other Brands to go from encouraging people to post their positive experiences, to actively incentivising them to do so.
With brands finding more and more ways to infiltrate our social networks, blurring the lines between genuine, impartial, self-motivated advocacy, and the more ambiguously motivated Brand-prompted advocacy may not be successful in the long-term.