The mega food products company Nestlé has been working to humanize its brand. As reported by the Verge, Nestlé “is trying hard to present a human face to its operations and products.” Their CMO Michael Christment said that “the dotcom is [a] reflection of us talking to people; this approach is dead. It should be much more inclusive and allow [for] conversations.”
Nestlé is bailing on the conventional brand website format and moving their entire Nescafé site to become a Tumblr blog. As questionable as this may sound at face value, their goal is to achieve “building stronger relationships with younger consumers.” Nestle feels that they needed a way to address the requirement to form deeper connection with their target audience through a participatory approach. Tumblr allows for the sharing of content, images and videos.
This brings about a question that underlies much of the digital strategy for brands today. That is, how do you better enable your customers to take meaningful action at your website?
The evolution of the brand website has had stages. First it was purely informational in nature (circa 1992-2003), then it was promotional (circa 2004-2014), and now we have entered the conversational era. Sure, companies have been able to use community forums on their websites for nearly a decade, but ultimately the adoption of company-provided forums has been low because customers don’t favor brand-provided platforms.
One thing many brands can agree on today is that empowering visitors, prospects and customers at the website of the future will require empowering this community of users (read: Users Not Customers) with the tools of conversation and communications required to hold bi-directions discussions with the brand as well as enable participatory brand advocacy at the website AND omni-channel.
There are new technologies that help brands interact with the user community (crowd) in entirely new ways. While converting your brand site into a Tumblr blog may be extreme, there are other ways to interact.
Here at Engage was help brands to develop and maintain hyper-personal relationship continuity with users through synchronous communications and menu’s of live and readily available people (whether they are customer facing employees or brand advocates.) In short, we help brands put a humans on their website. You can see an example here and here of how Engage is used by a travel group to surface people in new ways.
Another solution provider is the advocate marketing software provider Influitive. Brands are using Infuitive to generate proprietary content from their user community as well as capture feedback from advocates and turn that into valuable marketing collateral that engages and inspires other community users.
There are also tools that help address the user community at the brand website. For example, AnswerDash is providing software for building an on-demand repository of answers that support virtually all functions of the brand website. Historically one of the problems is that standard informational websites could lead to visitor abandonment because of limited content. If the visitor isn’t placated with the right information, answers or interaction tools, they leave. AnswerDash provides a new level of content depth that can be tapped to inform and educate the user community.
The future of the brand website is personal, it is conversational, and it truly empowers visitors, prospects and customers to have a voice and to connect with the user community and brand in entirely new ways.