Download the white paper here!Ze Frank and I were having dinner a several months ago at a fantastic Thai “hole in the wall” in New York. The conversation turned to a subject we think about a lot, albeit coming from different perspectives. We  started talking about how conversations and ongoing touchpoints really make the difference – when actions build upon each other, it can be incredibly impactful. We decided to call this the “participation chain.”

Consider a research study that involved phone calls to Dallas residents from Hunger Relief Committee. One set of residents received a call asking if the organization could come to their homes to sell them cookies to benefit the charity; the second set of residents were asked the same question, but the caller first asked, “How are you feeling this evening?” and waited for an answer. This one question nearly doubled the number of positive responses from residents. Further, once the volunteers were in their homes, almost all participants who’d been asked this question actually made a purchase.

This one question made all the difference, showing that the more time a consumer spends with you (assuming it’s a positive experience, of course) directly relates to how likely they are to spend money with you. We’re constantly creating new ideas and ways for consumers to easily interact with brands – like voting for favorite stories. So how are brands reaching out – transparently, authentically – to encourage more interactions with consumers?

Participation Chain Engagement Cycle

We’ve all seen sweepstakes and other gimmicky ways that brands have basically tried to build their databases, but user-generated content on a site really gives brands opportunities to create real dialogue online that’s actually meaningful to other consumers. For example, we’ve seen brands have great success with topics and campaigns that don’t tie directly to products – like PETCO’s Howl-O-Ween campaign, which encouraged pet owners to share photos of their pets’ Halloween costumes. PETCO knows their target consumers love their pets and want to show them off, and this campaign gave customers and prospects a whole new way to connect with PETCO, which could pay off for months and years to come.

Amazon has a lot of ways for users to interact with their brand. Of course, they encourage product reviews, and also encourage voting on review helpfulness. They also allow users to create wish lists and registries, and customize recommendations based on the types of items they’ve purchased in the past.

Bazaarvoice clients are constantly finding new ways to interact with consumers online – responding to reviews, answering shopper questions online, and highlighting top participants in other media, like blogs. Free People does a great job highlighting their top reviewers, and a recent webinar discussed how brands make the most of their top contributors.

The new white paper Ze and I wrote together, “Participation Chains Connect Customers to Your Brand,” delves into how important an authentic brand/consumer conversation is, and the real impact it has on businesses. We also go into detail about maximizing the results of these interactions.

Download your copy of “Participation Chains Connect Customers to Your Brand.” We’d love to hear how increased interactions have helped drive increased sales (or other business metrics) for you.


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