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Feel nothing, say nothing

I sat at my desk recently and, feeling extremely modern and connected, ‘attended’ a webinar called ‘Feel nothing, say nothing’. If nothing else, it took my mind off my very strong feelings about the nightmare at the Theatre of Dreams – although things are looking up now. It also combined two areas I find fascinating: the role of emotion in advertising and how people socially interact about brands.

The webinar showcased research combining work by consumer conversation experts Keller Fay and BrainJuicer, the consultancy which promises to turn human understanding into business advantage. Their research is full of insights we should all bear in mind. Here are some of the highlights:

Online conversation is the tip of an iceberg

90% of all brand conversations take place offline and 82% take place face to face. Only 2% of brand conversations happen via social media. This is not an impression you’d necessarily get given the hype around what social media can do for brands.

The good news for brands is that 62% of all conversation about them tends to be positive. In case you were wondering, the research found that the UK’s most talked about category is food and drink and the most talked about brand is Tesco.

People talk online for a different reason

Brainjuicer/Keller Fay found that the number one reason why people talk about brands online is for social signalling. However, the main reason people talk about brands offline – where the vast majority of conversation takes place – is for emotional sharing.

I found this point really interesting, but it makes sense when you think about how people often behave online to try and create idealised versions of themselves. It is harder to do that in real life, face to face, warts and all. It begs the question of whether online conversations about brands have as much integrity or honesty as offline, emotionally-driven conversations. I don’t have the answer to that – maybe more research for Keller Fay.

Emotion = word of mouth

There is a growing body of evidence about the importance of emotion in advertising. We have known for a while that emotions are central to brand success, not least from the work that Les Binet and Peter Field have done examining the IPA databank which shows emotional campaigns to be more effective than rational ones in creating large business effects (like driving sales and profit) and that nothing creates emotion like TV.

The Brainjuicer/Keller Fay research adds a valuable new layer to our knowledge of emotional influence, and the fact that emotional sharing is the main reason for brand word of mouth helps to explain why TV is so good at creating it.

The webinar also looked at the correlation between different emotions (happiness, anger, disgust etc.) and word of mouth. It showed that there was very little correlation in fact. However there was a significant correlation between neutrality (i.e. not feeling any emotion) and not talking (no word of mouth). You’ve got to get people to feel something.

And Brainjuicer/Keller Fay looked at the strength of the emotion and whether this correlated with word of mouth. Generally the two did correlate; the more a brand elicited emotion, the more it was talked about. The most emotional brands are on average talked about 3 times more than the least emotional. In fact no brand was talked about that didn’t create an emotional response.

So it is clear: if you want to make people talk about you, you need to fire their emotions somehow (and, ahem, there is a form of advertising that is proven to do this better than anything else). Or fire David Moyes.


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