Branding

Online Quizzes: Recreational and Informative

Online quizzes, like this one from  AARP , are all the rage because they are an entertaining form of customer engagement. But of course, they also can be engagingly informative.

Online quizzes, like this one from AARP, are all the rage because they are an entertaining form of customer engagement. But of course, they also can be engagingly informative.

People shrink from responding to phone surveys, but they trip over themselves to participate in online questionnaires, like BuzzFeed’s personality quizzes

While public opinion pollsters have to make more calls to achieve a representative sample on a phone survey, people eagerly take online quizzes on anything and everything from personality types and careers to celebrities, dog breeds and sex. As changes in the marketplace are complicating traditional polling methods, maybe now is the time to consider the potential of online quizzes as an alternative.

Yes, the two have some big differences. Where public opinion polls dig for people’s views, online quizzes often only offer a chance for a few minutes of pleasurable escape. Public opinion polls, of course, are intended to produce findings. Online quizzes, on the other hand, are about fun and engagement, not hard numbers.

So yes, online quizzes may not generate “data” in the truest sense. However, they do reflect popular themes and gratify people’s narcissistic obsessions, especially those of the “me” generation. Why do people love me? What career should I pursue? Which superhero do I resemble? Who am I really?

Online quizzes aren’t just for the kids, though. AARP posts trivia games and online quizzes about entertainment, leisure, money management and dementia symptoms. In its effort to protect against elder financial abuse, AARP created “Catch the con quiz” featuring Frank Abagnale, Jr., whose story of outsmarting victims and the FBI was told in the Steven Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can.

Ultimately, quizzes are just a cheaper version of contests to stimulate interaction. There usually aren’t any prizes or judges involved – people judge for themselves. But if a brand can glean tidbits of information about people from their quiz answers, it is engagement with a purpose.

In some cases, online quizzes can have an educational value. Participants can discover some unknown facts about subjects that interest them. And they can learn what they don’t know.

BuzzFeed is one of the leading practitioners of online quizzes. The site posts just about any kind of personality quiz imaginable, with fetching headlines that resemble a call to action. Data indicates BuzzFeed’s quizzes have drawn millions more page views than the company’s other content. 

The bottom line is that as polling faces participation challenges, online quizzes are enjoying unprecedented popularity, and they can help turn your electronic platform into a game board. While many topics are mostly for just fun, online quizzes can be a gentle introduction to more serious topics.

Online quizzes are more recreation than research, but that doesn’t diminish their value as an outreach tool that gets people talking.

Influencer Marketing Is a Good Investment

People trust other people more than advertising or promotions, which makes influencer marketing initiatives a good investment with long-term dividends.

People trust other people more than advertising or promotions, which makes influencer marketing initiatives a good investment with long-term dividends.

Influencer marketing is assuming a similar mission-critical role as influentials in market research.

Influentials are the people other people turn to for good advice, whether it’s what camera to buy or who to hire to remodel your kitchen. In research, influentials are a valuable resource because they are typically well-informed and willing to share what they know. They provide researchers with a clear window to see the wonders and warts of a product, service or idea.

Market influencers are the people others trust for advice on a buying decision. You don’t have to be a celebrity to be an influencer. In fact, most influencers today are bloggers or vloggers who offer views and advice in concentrated areas, whether it’s gluten-free food or smart parenting tips.

There is an analog to market influencers in the crisis communications space – third-party validation. Claims that an environmental spill has been cleaned up or that a financial practice has been corrected carry more weight if an independent third party verifies the claim. That party is essentially a “market influencer.”

The underlying truth is that people are prone to trust other people more than advertising or promotional pitches. A corollary is that brand managers, marketers and public affairs professionals often overlook the prowess of influencer marketing initiatives, especially ones that can ignite with a powerful employee advocacy campaign.

Jay Baer of Convince & Convert says influencer marketing is shockingly more successful than digital advertising, and he undertook a study to prove his point. Baer worked with a digital marketing firm and a research company that specializes in food to persuade 258 fitness and food influencers to create content related to Silk Almond Milk and its Meatless Monday initiative. The content was allowed to pulse out organically on social media without any paid promotion.

“Households exposed to influencer marketing purchased 10 percent more Silk products than the control group,” Baer reported. The return on investment after 12 months for the influencer marketing outreach was 11 times greater than the cost of banner ads, he added.

There are extended values as well, Baer explains. Influencer marketing content has a shelf life that keeps generating impressions. Brands can repurpose the content, which becomes in effect testimonials from trusted sources. And, the cost to produce the content is borne by the influencer.

‘We’ve known for years that online influencers can generate net-new impressions, clicks and even e-commerce sales,” Baer says. “But this new study demonstrates that online influencer marketing yields offline purchase shifts, too.”

The Trump Triumph of Earned Media

The numbers show Donald Trump snuffed out his GOP presidential competitors for nightly network TV news coverage. The reason was Trump’s skill at earning free coverage, not media bias.

The numbers show Donald Trump snuffed out his GOP presidential competitors for nightly network TV news coverage. The reason was Trump’s skill at earning free coverage, not media bias.

The power of earned media has never been more evident than in the 2016 presidential campaign by Donald Trump. However, one media analyst believes that Trump is getting an extra boost because of news bias.

While most other presidential aspirants have spent millions, Trump has spent relatively little on paid advertising. Trump's bombastic, no-holds-barred speaking style, combined with punchy, pungent tweets, have kept him in the limelight – and perhaps sucked the oxygen out of his opponents’ campaigns.

The Media Research Center, a politically conservative news content organization based in Virginia, analyzed the evening coverage on ABC, CBS and NBC from January through October last year and found Trump received 116 minutes of air time from January through July and 266 minutes from August through October. Trump’s share of coverage of the GOP presidential race in the latter part of 2015 exceeded 56 percent.

From August to October, Jeb Bush garnered the next highest share of coverage, with 57 minutes, or around 12 percent. He got a higher share from January to July with 72 minutes, equaling 22.8 percent.

Scott Walker, who dropped out of the race after a couple of months, earned more minutes from January to October than Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, the only remaining candidates within shouting distance of Trump.

Some candidates’ exposure on network nightly news was clocked in seconds. Rick Santorum racked up 111 seconds of coverage from January to July, then slipped to just 33 seconds from August to October. If you blinked, you might have missed George Pataki’s candidacy, which earned around a minute of coverage. Jim Gilmore, who didn't end his candidacy until last week, received zero coverage.

Media Research Center analysts blamed the disparity on liberal news media bias. They claim the bloated coverage for Trump was intended to winnow the GOP field and, in particular, squeeze out politically conservative candidates.

The data produced by the Media Research Center seems to tell another story. The “establishment” candidates, such as Chris Christie, John Kasich and Lindsey Graham, didn’t fare any better than their more outspokenly conservative colleagues. In fact, Ben Carson received 55 minutes of coverage late last year, which was double the coverage of Carly Fiorina and Rubio and nine times the coverage of Christie and Kasich.

The story told by the data is that Trump stole the show. Using insults, talk show appearances, provocative proposals and profanity, Trump commanded the airwaves. He was a reliable daily sound bite. And he was willing to talk any time of day or night.

Trump’s emergence as the Republican frontrunner is a story in itself, but he added a story hook with virtually every appearance he made. In the world of strategic communications, we call that earned media, and Trump got a lot of it.

Bush got some of his coverage by bashing Trump. Carson earned much of his by inching up momentarily to Trump.

You can blast Trump for manipulating the media, but you have to compliment the guy for doing it so well and so often.

Earned media kudos also should go to Vice President Joe Biden who collected 110 minutes of network TV nightly news coverage from last August to October as he toyed publicly with entering the Democratic presidential race. As the Media Research Center grumbled, that’s a lot more coverage for a candidacy that never materialized than for GOP candidates who were out on the political stump. And the reason for Biden’s success – his skill at earning free media coverage.

The Colors of Your Mind

Color counts when it comes to conveying eco-friendliness in a company logo, and which color conveys it best might surprise you.

Color counts when it comes to conveying eco-friendliness in a company logo, and which color conveys it best might surprise you.

If you want your customers, donors or patrons to view you as environmentally friendly, use green or blue in your logo.

Research performed by Aparna Sundar of the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business and published in the "Journal of Business Ethics" concludes that color counts in identity branding.

"What we're finding is that color is one of those things that actually biases the way consumers make ethical judgments," Sundar says.

Green seems the obvious choice to convey eco-friendliness, but Sundar's research suggests that blue is "greener than green."

The research involved showing shoppers fake logos consisting of colors in existing logos. Results indicated that shoppers viewed "Walmart's blue and Sam's green to be more eco-friendly than Trader Joe's red."

There is a flipside to the research findings. When shoppers were exposed to a make-believe brand in "morally ambiguous scenarios," they gave the benefit of the doubt to brands that used eco-friendly colors in their logos. However, shoppers were more critical of a brand with an eco-friendly color when it was linked to an unethical practice.

"While individual differences still play a role in the observed effect of color, Sundar's research suggests the color used in a logo has far-reaching consequences on consumers' perceptions," according to a UO press release.

Previous research indicates people form subconscious opinions of brands, often based on the color of their logos, in as little as 90 seconds.

Clearly, color choices matter in designing a logo or other branding material. Pick them wisely.