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Mover Ratings: The importance of WOM

By • Oct 25th, 2011 • Category: Social Media Marketing, TECHNOLOGY

How do national van lines measure up under the scrutiny of social media?

social mediaIn the early 1960s, a world renowned Canadian educator, philosopher, and well respected media scholar wrote that the “visual, individualistic print culture” would soon be brought to an end by what he called "electronic interdependence".

Marshall McLuhan predicted the World Wide Web almost thirty years before it was invented. In 1964, he coined the expression "the global village" to describe the how the world was becoming contracted into a village by electric technology and “the instantaneous movement of information from every quarter to every point at the same time.”

McLuhan is most often remembered for his phrase "The medium is the message" in which he contended that the form of a medium – whether news or mass media; or print, electronic (and now digital) technology – embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.

Huh???

Have you seen the recent Midas commercial?

Using just 30 seconds and very few words, the international automotive and repair franchise manages to capture the essence of McLuhan's global village idea – specifically the notions of how the medium influences how a message is perceived.

When her car starts to make a “funny noise”, a young woman uses her own 'global village' and 28 characters keyed, texted, or tweeted into the latest digital technology to reach out and communicate with those whose opinions she respects the most.

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WOM Marketing

Did you notice Claire didn't automatically approach her father, brother, boyfriend or boss for advice when she found herself looking for someone to work on her car. Nor did she specifically consult her mother, sisters, coworkers, department supervisor, HR department, or division VP!

Contrary to what many moving and storage sales and marketing managers, small business owners, or van line executives hope, she didn't even open the phone book, … or do an internet search for repair shops so she could visit each company's website, Yelp reviews, Facebook page or Linkedin profile to find the most qualified auto repair shop.

Like most shoppers today, she relied on her own internal 'social network' to solve her problem.

“Anyone know a good mechanic?”

“These new media have made our world into a single unit. The world is now like a continually sounding tribal drum, where everybody gets the message all the time.” - Marshall McLuhan, 1964

Instead of using large, over-sized percussion drums to communicate, though, today's consumer's manage their lives through the electronic or digital hand-held instruments that are often tucked under their arm or stored in their briefcase, pocket or purse. They don't make as much noise by they can be heard by a lot more people much farther away.

McLuhan believed that “The technology that sends the message determines its outcome.” If that's true, the most buying decisions today are likely made based on 140 characters of information or less.

“Mark@Midas”

Don't believe it? Before you shake your head or say no, look around you when you're sitting at a stoplight, standing in a checkout line, eating in a restaurant; hanging out at a bar, having your hair done, or waiting for your tee time. Believe me, all those folks looking down aren't contemplating their navel.

My kids no longer call to stay in touch They text. Some times 25 times a day – each!  From wherever they are; anywhere in the world. I'm not their parent anymore. I”m just one small cog in their growing social network.

That's how today's consumers 'hear things”!

In this new mobile, global marketplace, social media and community networking take on many different forms. These can include popular channels like internet forums, personal weblogs, new microblogging platforms; wikis, podcasts, photographs; or pictures, video, and rating-and-review or social bookmarking sites similar to those included on the chart below.

Simply because an individual, small business, or international company sports a big social media fan base, however, doesn't necessarily mean the “global tribe” automatically endorses the “message” being communicated in the “content”

The Fallacy of the 3F's

Before you start clicking on the links embedded under each national van lines social media graph below to see how the company communicates with its customers, I suggest you first review a recent blog post written by Brian Solis, the principal at Altimeter Group, a research-based advisory firm, wrote about the relevance of “Likenomics”.

Brian does a great job analyzing the results of an Exact Target study released in June that looks at the discrepancy between how brands and consumers interpret the act of liking or, as Mr. Solis suggests, overestimating the importance of the 3F’s – friends, fans, and followers.

His list of eight 'takeaways' at the bottom of his article is invaluable.

Anyone know a good mover?

Major Household Goods Carriers Using Social Media

Channel 

               

National Van Line

Fleet Size

Fans

 Followers 

Channel   Views

 Followers 

 Influence 
Social Capital

 Company  Rating

Allied Van Lines Inc

2199

6698

2758

1434

196

26
13

4

American Red Ball Transit

203

2

0

Arpin Van Lines Inc

645

484

352

704

157

19
33

0

Atlas Van Lines Inc

3759

1404

985

6162

443

35
2

2.2

Bekins Van Lines LLC

956

276

240

190

6

Budd Van Lines Inc

123

155

207

129

17
0

0

Covan World-wide Moving

445

0

Graebel Van Lines Inc

828

167

243

150

1012

17
5

3

Interstate Van Lines

74 192
238
590
134
13
34
0

JK Moving Services 

145
361

237

708

194

40
28
0

Joyce Van Lines Inc

51

7

1

Mayflower Transit LLC

3128

2629

22

6701

21

19
0

1

New World Van Lines Inc

201

70

0

north American Van Lines Inc

1694

3047

2466

1718

157

29 0

Stevens Van Lines Inc

623

236

99

1429

153

16

2

United Van Lines LLC

7432

5535

15

4702

15
0

3.2

Wheaton Van Lines Inc

961

11

828

101

139

26
30

0

(Click on either the company name or number embedded in each column under a social media channel to see how the van line uses the space to communicate with their audiences.

The absence of any value means that company does not participate in that channel.  A zero shows that there is no information in the channel about the company.)

 

Related Articles

How the moving and storage industry is using social media – RELO Roundtable

#movechat : A Twitter Conversation – RELO Roundtable

How to Find a Reputable Mover: Get a WOM Recommendation – RELO Roundtable

Best practices for responding to customer complaints online – RELO Roundtable

Do “rating & review” sites influence moving industry customers? – RELO Roundtable

 


 

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  • Rebecca

    Another interesting post, Eric.  The notion of social capital is a tough nut to crack.  I agree wholeheartedly that the sheer number of fans/followers/”likes” really don’t mean a lot.  It’s the level of engagement you can get with your customers/audiences that matters on social media.  That said, it’s hard to know which ratings to trust — in addition to the Peer Index you noted, there are Klout scores and several other ways to measure (?) how well a brand is doing on social media.

  • Eric Anders

    Thanks again, Rebecca. I agree. Leveraging social capital to increase you company’s exposure and reputation in the marketplace can be very challenging – particularly within an industry that customers don’t use that often.

    Most folks don’t appreciate movers – even the GOOD ones – simply because they represent the angst and inconvenience that comes with any type of relocation planning.

    Several years ago I wrote an article about a company that handles pet relocations. If you thinks it’s hard to engage a customer to figure out what they want, think about the difficulty of trying to plan a successful move for an animal that can’t communicate.

    Since then PetRelocation.com has done a remarkable job using social media to not only engage their audience, but they also effectively use the channels they they participate in to have their “friends, fans, and followers” help other visitors (and prospective customers!) overcome their personal pet relocation hurdles.

    In two years, both groups – repeat customers and future clients all across the globe – have grown
    exponentially in their engagement level with the relatively small company through effective use of their social media channels. Most movers would be envious of their success since there are fewer pets to move than people.

  • Rebecca

    Ha, I would imagine that yes, it’s even harder to move a pet.  To your point; you can’t readily communicate with the animal AND the owner is probably highly anxious.

    However, I could absolutely see where a specialty company like this would do well with social media, because, hey, who isn’t a sucker for a furry face?!