California is not forgiving Liberty Mutual for misleading consumers

A screen shot of one of the misleading television ads [Source: YouTube]

A screen shot of one of the misleading television ads [Source: YouTube]

Marketers can learn a valuable lesson from Liberty Mutual Insurance today, but it’s one that is hopefully taught in most Marketing 101 classes: review your advertisements for all regulatory compliance or it could cost you big time. In Liberty Mutual’s case it’s to the tune of $925,00 in penalties in California, not to mention the very real damage to its reputation and brand.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s office announced today in a press release that a consumer protection lawsuit against the Boston-based insurance company has resulted in a settlement. The civil complaint alleges violation of California’s false advertising laws by failing to disclose to consumers in the ads that “accident forgiveness” was in fact not available in the state yet countless advertisements had been running in California for over two years. State law requires that all advertising must clearly and conspicuously disclose any material facts that viewers need to avoid being misled. It is alleged in a complaint filed in the case that the disclaimers in the Liberty Mutual ads were unlawful because these ads could convey “an overall impression that California consumers would receive this benefit as part of Liberty Mutual car insurance,” which was not true.

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Study: In Spite of its popularity, Americans skeptical of social media

13th Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll Shows Opportunities for Businesses and Political Leaders, But Authenticity and Openness Are Key

Americans believe participation in social media makes them more informed and influential as both consumers and citizens, even as they express clear skepticism about the trustworthiness of the information they find there, according to poll results announced today by The Allstate Corporation (NYSE: ALL) and National Journal.

The 13th quarterly Allstate-National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll explored how Americans incorporate social media into their consumer and community behaviors. Its findings reveal important themes about trust and influence, even as leaders in the public and private sectors increasingly use social media to engage consumers and voters.

Nearly two out of three American adults surveyed used social media in the last month. Although social media users are somewhat younger, more educated and more affluent than non-users on average, they closely align with the overall American public in their opinions about politics and the economy, as well as their perceptions of major institutions.

However, social media users report significantly higher levels of political and community activity, including volunteering for a community organization (69% of social media users versus 49% of non-users), signing campaign or community petitions (68% of users versus 50% of non-users), or attending a campaign rally (32% of users versus 22% of non-users). Social media users also are more likely to consult with others about buying a product or service (79% of users versus 60% of non-users) or change their minds about a product or service because of others’ opinions (64% of users versus 47% of non-users).

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Pivot Study Shows Future of Advertising will be Influenced by Consumer Behavior in Social Networks

84% of brands encourage user involvement with social advertising campaigns

The Pivot Conference today released findings from its industry survey of 230 brand managers, executives, and marketing professionals. The research, mainly conducted to reveal the interest in and utilization of Social Advertising, provided high-level insights into the state and future of the industry.

Presented by Editorial Director and Conference Producer Brian Solis, the research revealed that the future of advertising will be largely influenced by consumer behavior in social networks. “Those brands that listen, measure and evolve programs as a result, will push advertising forward—to the benefit of consumers and ultimately the brand,” according to Solis. “Those brands that are ready to move the industry ahead will be at Pivot.”

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Facebook Releases Guide to Social Marketing Best Practices

Facebook has released the “Best Practice Guide For Marketing on Facebook,” a comprehensive overview of how to utilize the social media site for marketing your business, products or services. Specific to Facebook, the guide is a practical overview that provides real-life examples from brands like M&M’s, OnStar, Clorox, Shane Co., Adidas, Levi’s, Sephora, and more.

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What Consumer Roadblocks Are Affecting Your Brand?

No matter what your company’s products or services, it is important to understand the consumer’s experience with your brand from start to finish – especially the delivery and implementation channels. When conducting a brand audit for new clients I focus closely on the end consumer experience: does your brand live up to its promises? What roadblocks are there in the delivery or implementation? How can those be improved or removed altogether?

You can deploy every marketing tool in the book and spend tons of money on massive advertising campaigns to build awareness of your brand, but in the end it is the customer experience that matters – especially in the age of Twitter and Facebook. [Read more…]

Surge in Social CRM Among Big Brands

Large businesses are embracing social customer relationship management (CRM) software, with 30% planning to adopt it within the next 24 months, according to new study.

During the next two years 30 percent of leading companies will extend the goals of their online community activities to the design of enhanced service processes, such as social CRM, according to a study released by Gartner today. Social CRM for customer service has the potential to bring new and dynamic methods for improving customer service, and in doing so is creating opportunities for new and existing providers in the customer service and contact center infrastructure markets.

“Social CRM for customer service has only recently entered into the realm of contact center infrastructure and customer service software components, where it has been met with significant hype despite a limited number of field deployments,” said Drew Kraus, research vice president at Gartner. “There is strong corporate awareness, including at corporate executive levels, of social networks and their potential impact on corporate brand management and customer service perception. We expect the high-profile nature of social networks and social CRM for customer service to rapidly advance adoption from early adopter to mainstream deployments despite the volatile and rapid evolution of social networks in general.”

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Social Marketing Top Strategy Among Local Businesses, Study Finds

New research shows social media top marketing strategy for local businesses with Facebook surpassing Google as most-widely used. Group buying gets mixed reviews: 55% of merchants who have offered a “daily deal” through a group buying service would not do so again.

MerchantCircle has released results of its quarterly Merchant Confidence Index survey of over 8,500 small and local business owners across the U.S. The data reveals that local merchants, who have very limited time and money for marketing, are gravitating towards simple, low-cost online marketing methods such as Facebook and other social media, as well as towards tried-and-true methods such as search and email marketing. The research also demonstrates that while new marketing services such as mobile marketing and group buying are generating significant buzz in the media, local merchants have yet to tap these unproven marketing methods.

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Social media users ‘more demanding’ as consumers

Research shows that social media users are more demanding:1 in 5 consumers who complain to brands via Twitter or Facebook want a response within the hour.

New research from Lightspeed Research and the IAB revealed that consumers have much higher expectations of social media customer services compared to more traditional channels. The research found that a quarter of people who complain about brands through Twitter or Facebook expect a response within the hour, and around 6% within 10 minutes.

Conversely, 50% of consumers who made complaints via a brand’s own website were happy to receive a response within a day and 27% within 3 days.

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