Going Beyond the Click: Social Currency

By Clayton Stewart

Word of Mouth Marketing is the holy grail of marketing, something which every marketer tries their hardest to create. However, it’s just not that easy. In an effort to create word of mouth marketing, advertisers use guerilla marketing tactics, trying to create some sort of viral buzz. But is this a recommendation, or a friend showing you a funny video that happens to be sponsored by a business?When people think about Display ads, we have found that they think of it as a way for the consumer to navigate to the website and purchase products. While this holds true, many are missing the bigger picture. Many seem to forget that in doing 1 to 1 IP targeting,  you are having more a conversation with the customer, as opposed to just advertising a product to them.

Have you ever heard of “Social Currency?” Social Currency was a largely considered concept  in Jonah Berger’s renowned word of mouth marketing book, Contagious. It’s the idea that people share things that make them look intelligent, in-the-know, and fun. Essentially, human beings want to share things that will make others perceive them in a positive light. This is called collecting “social currency.”

Think of it like this: how often do you hear from a friend about how they got ripped off? Unless there is a story behind it, probably never. On the other hand, how often do you hear from a friend about how they found an awesome deal? Probably every day or at least several times a week. People don’t share things with others that will make them look bad, unintelligent, or boring.  

Social Currency has a huge place in the display  ad world. Before, word of mouth marketing wasn’t associated with display banner ads because there was no way of actually knowing who you were serving ads too. I’d like to talk about a campaign we’ve been running for my family’s Harley Davidson Dealership to shine light on the importance of Social Currency.

Ted’s Motorcycle World, a Harley Davidson dealership in St. Louis, saw the effects of social currency in their bottom line. Last April, Ted’s started using El Toro’s 1-to-1 IP targeting, hitting former customers with a credit score greater than 580. Their ads promoted a financing deal going on throughout that month for those who qualified. After the campaign ran, Ted’s Motorcyle World saw a 40% increase in sales, while their competitors saw a 20% decrease!

After running a matchback analysis on their campaign, El Toro found that the units that we accounted for could in no way make up the entirety of a 40% increase in sales. So why did El Toro’s campaign help Ted’s Motorcycle World defy the odds? The answer: Social Currency.

We saw for ourselves just how real Social Currency could be. Those who do not own a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, but are looking to buy one, will ask a friend who DOES own a Harley-Davidson for any advice on what kind of motorcycle to buy, and WHERE to purchase it. If the “expert” friend saw an ad 40-60 times that month about that great financing deal happening over at Ted’s, they share that information. The Harley-Davidson owner may not realize that they saw the discount from a banner ad. All they know is that there are a lot of deals going on right now at Ted’s Motorcycle World. This is your friend cashing out on their Social Currency.

Having the ability to identify your high-value customers with some offline data (names and addresses), and then being able to serve display ads at the 1 to 1 level, give marketers the ability to feed word of mouth in ways that are unmatched in the digital ad world. Give your customers the “social currency” they need to share your product. Run your next online ad campaign with El Toro.