The number of social media users reached 3.916 billion worldwide in 2018 based on the Global Digital Report 2018. Individuals are using social media to share their experiences with products and brands, and shoppers are increasingly turning to other user’s social media to make purchasing decisions.
As this trend grows, it’s vital for businesses to implement social media advocacy programs that will connect with their audience and encourage them to amplify the brand story.
The good old days of customers listening to your marketing pitch and responding are fading away. Today, social media is giving individuals, not brands, a virtual megaphone to tell their own stories about brands and businesses.
Word of mouth marketing has always been important, but with the rapid communication of social media, we are seeing word of mouth marketing on steroids.
Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising - a trend that is bound to grow over time.
This trend shows that shopping behavior is set to evolve as the younger generations grow older. That's why, now more than ever, it is vital for businesses of all sizes to invest time and understanding in brand advocacy.
What is Social Media Advocacy and How Can It Help Your Business?
Some businesses feel comfortable assuming that if they have stellar content and existing superfans they don’t need a formal program for social advocacy. They believe people will organically share their content.
However, in light of the clear trend toward word of mouth decision-making by consumers, this may not be enough. Businesses can benefit from a hybrid approach, such as an informal program for your fans but a more formal plan for your influencers or employees.
Whether you are planning a formal or informal social media advocacy program for your business, the following strategies and tips will help you make it a success.
Design a Social Media Advocacy Strategy In Line with Marketing Goals
Is your goal to grow your followers on Facebook? Increase awareness of a new product? Reach more people on Instagram?
The more specific and concrete your goals, the more you can create a social media advocacy strategy that results in the right people sharing your news with the best content you can create.
How to Create a Social Media Advocacy Program that Will Work for Your Business
We will walk through these important components and share some examples along the way.
#1. Create a Persona to Understand What Your Superfans Care About
Remember - you can’t provide meaningful content to your audience if you don’t know what they care about. Plus, your superfans aren’t going to share content that doesn’t resonate with them.
To understand your audience better, you have to look no further than your own social media. What posts do people respond to and comment on? What kind of posts are met with silence? Think like a detective and make a list of what’s working and what is not.
#2. Don’t Ignore Your Employees When Identifying Social Media Advocates
To make sure your employees are on board with a social media advocacy program, you need to reach out and let them know your goals and how they can support them. Is your company trying to grow awareness? Increase sales of a specific product? Increase exposure of a new marketing campaign? Whatever your objectives, describe the goal and have a system for sharing content with your employees.
As your company makes progress on reaching goals, you can share updates through email, personal meetings, and other internal communication channels.
Identify, and, most of all, appreciate employees who are helping. You might have a special incentive in place to recognize those who are garnering the most support for your business. Some companies find that it helps to gamify the experience and give actual awards for progress. However you incentivize employees, make sure you don’t lose the authenticity of their enthusiasm.
#3. Build a Relationship with Your Advocates
#4. Reward Your Social Media Advocates in a Creative Way
And remember to think outside the box with your swag. Look beyond the T-shirt when you plan your gifts. MailChimp garnered lots of positive attention when it decided to give away crocheted “Freddy” cat hats to 500 loyal customers. Not only was it hilarious and unique, but it seeded the opportunity for countless cat videos.
#5. Give Your Audience a Story to Tell, and Help Them Tell It
Luckily, it is possible for every business to find a way to stand out.
Here are some ways to make your content story-worthy:
- Create a campaign that is humorous, useful, touches the heart, or is otherwise memorable. Your content needs to stand out and inspire your fans to share it. As you create your content, ask yourself: What is the remarkable part of this story that would make someone turn to the person standing next to them and tell it?
- Include your customer in your story. Brands have been talking about themselves for years and years. Flip the funnel and tell your brand story with your customer as the hero - this way, your audience will be able to better relate to the story.
- Make it easy to share your story. Whether collaborating with employees, superfans, or influencers, give them specific instructions on how to share your content. Tell them when and where you plan to post your content, and explain why the post is worth sharing.
With its #ShotoniPhone campaign, Apple was able to show how their phones take high-quality photos by challenging their customers to share their photos, and then featuring the best photos throughout Apple’s social media marketing.
#6. Decide How You Will Measure the Success of Your Social Media Advocacy Program
Decide what metrics you will track early on in your planning. Video views, reach, engagement, click-throughs, website traffic, and conversions are all metrics that you may want to measure.
Keep in mind that your program metrics should be in line with your goals, so, if your goal is to get more reach on Instagram, you won’t necessarily need to monitor traffic to your website.
Take notes of who and what is making your program most successful. Was it one influencer who shared a video or was it your team of employees sharing hundreds of posts that cumulated into a big impact?
The more you can learn from monitoring your social advocacy program, the better you can plan similar marketing programs in the future.
Social Advocacy Tools and Tactics for Connecting and Allowing Your Audience to Tell Your Story
Some tools offer an internal library of content that you can share with your employee advocates, while others focus on building an influencer relationship.
The social media tactics you employ should connect with your advocates in a personal, relatable way so they feel inspired to share your content, tell your story, and promote your business. Luckily, social media platforms are on a path to creating more opportunities for one-on-one communication.
Below are three ways to reach out to your followers and make meaningful connections:
#1. Create a Facebook Group of Your Superfans and Advocates
For example, in preparation for Social Media Marketing World, Social Media Examiner’s annual industry conference, the events team gave their volunteers the opportunity to learn about the event by taking part in a Facebook Group. In the group, volunteers networked with each other, got behind-the-scenes updates of the event, asked questions, and interacted with the events team.
#2. Share Stories on Instagram that Show Your Personality
Airbnb does a great job of this in their Instagram Stories. They share stories that highlight their community with videos and images that give you a peek into people's lives around the world.
For example, one of their recent stories took the audience to a town in Italy to share the life of a grandmother who creates pasta by hand.
#3. Use Live Video to Share Behind the Scenes Stories
Again, you don’t need to make your brand the center of the video. Starbucks kicked its first Live Facebook video by covering a National Voter Registration Day they participated in. Rather than showcase themselves, they highlighted a theme that resonated with its audience.
- Design a social media advocacy strategy that is in line with marketing goals
- Create an audience persona to understand what your superfans care about
- Don’t overlook employees when identifying social media advocates
- Build a relationship with your advocates
- Reward your social media advocates in a creative way
- Give your audience a story to tell, and then help them tell it
- Decide how you will measure the success of your social media advocate program
- Be human and authentic with your audience
- Use social advocacy tactics like Facebook Live, Facebook Groups, and Instagram Stories to connect with your audience
Christina is also an event associate at Social Media Examiner for Social Media Marketing World, the world’s largest social media conference. She is the author of the Marketing Staircase blog which offers tips on social media and digital marketing for businesses.
Follow Christina on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Facebook.
You May Also Like
How to Increase Your Social Media Traffic - The…
So you published your polished post on social media and started waiting for the clicks to roll in. Hours pass by, but nothing happens.
Does this scenario sound frustratingly familiar?
That's because the volume of social media traffic is in decline. Back in 2014, over 31% of referral traffic came from social media - a number that dropped to 26% in 2018, the first year when search outpaced social for referral traffic.
Even though getting people to see or engage with your content has become a challenge, it's not impossible.
Read on to find out how to increase social media traffic in an effective way:
How Marketers Can Turn LinkedIn into a Lead…
If you want to know how to generate sales leads through LinkedIn, you’ve come to the right place. This article will prove to you that using LinkedIn for lead generation is highly effective and exactly how to do it.