Collective Bias Uses Social Media to Turn Consumers into Marketers

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, May. 13, 2013 12:00 am  

Marketers have long recognized that word-of-mouth advertising can impact the success of a product. Consumers who have strong opinions regarding a purchase will typically share those thoughts with family and friends.

Finding a way to maximize the influence of that single shopper and magnify that positive review hasn’t been as easy to figure out, however.

Collective Bias seems to have cracked the code.

Recently recognized by Forbes magazine “as one of America’s Most Promising Companies,” the firm headquartered in downtown Bentonville is becoming a popular tool for brands looking for influence with shoppers. Tyson Foods, Disney, Colgate, Kimberly Clark and Nestle are among Collective Bias’ growing roster of clients, and the firm recently secured $10.5 million in investment funding to continue its momentum.

Co-founders John Andrews and Amy Callahan launched Collective Bias in 2009 and today it is an operation with 67 employees and satellite offices in Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Minnesota, Toronto and London.

Collective Bias uses a community of 1,400 bloggers with large followings and vast reach on social networks to help influence consumers. That network, called “Social Fabric,” has an aggregated reach of 50 million people, according to the company.

What began as a “back of the napkin” idea is now being hailed — by Forbes, again — as one of the “5 Most Important Companies You Need to Know,” all because Collective Bias has figured out a way to build on the personal relationship between consumer and company.

A Nielsen study released in April 2012 underscores the importance of what Collective Bias is doing. More than 90 percent of consumers surveyed worldwide said that they trusted word-of-mouth recommendations more than any other form of advertising.

“A brand can’t just talk about itself all day long or people will unfollow or ignore you,” said Callahan, also the company’s COO. “This was built around the idea of harnessing the power of people who are talking about you, people who are already advocates for you.”

May 2012 was the first $1 million sales month for the company, which reported $10 million in revenue last year. Andrews, who serves as CEO, said the company should exceed $20 million in 2013 and isn’t shy about stating his goal of growing revenues to $100 million for 2014.

Brands are starting to catch on to the power of the Collective Bias model for advertising and marketing. Companies are buying into the idea that a customer posting a favorite recipe and including specific product names with links and photos can be just as valuable — if not more so — than a traditional advertising campaign. That post gets distributed on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sharing sites, generating new customers.

Bloggers apply to be part of a campaign and are given a certain product to buy at a specific store. From there they incorporate the product into their daily lives and then through a story, photos and video — or some combination — document the process.

 

 

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