If you have never heard of influencer marketing or brand advocacy programs before, then it's highly likely that you're not making the most out of your social media campaigns. Word of mouth marketing is not a new concept. It's actually been there even before the Internet existed. It was the original social media platforms back then.
In today's modern world, where social media and the use of Internet has become an integral part of our lives, successful businesses have already taken the steps to shift to a more digital economy by running influencer marketing campaigns and brand advocacy campaigns. With word-of-mouth tactics (online conversations and recommendations) driving 13% of consumer sales or $6 trillion in annual consumer spending, it's only natural for them to enter the social media industry.
Influencers vs. Advocates
There seems to be a lot of confusion between the terms influencers and advocates. It doesn't help that these words are used interchangeably as well. There is a vast difference between the two groups especially when it comes to the influence they yield.
Here's an infographic by Jay Baer of Convince and Convert that shows the comparison of social influencers and brand advocates on social media.
Social influencers, usually in the form of industry experts, bloggers, and video content creators, have the power to affect the opinions or buying decisions of your target audience and that is all thanks to their huge fan base and social media following. They can market your products and services to their followers on different social media networks for an incentive. Though they might not entirely adore the brand they are promoting, they are still effective in reaching and influencing the purchasing decisions of your target audience.
Brand advocates, however, are consumers who personally love a brand they voluntarily promote on their own social media channels. They do not require any incentives. It is a group most likely to recommend your products and services to friends and family because they genuinely value your brand. Did you know that brand advocates are far more trusted by 92% than social influencers who are trusted only by 18%?
Why Do Businesses Need Social Media Advocacy Programs?
Whether you are just starting a new venture or have been in the industry for a long time, there is a need to set up a social media advocacy program. What if you could harness the power of what has been identified one of the most valuable forms of marketing? Just imagine the number of sales it will generate for your company. So, why would you not choose to implement a program as great as this?
Hence, we will be teaching you the steps to launch a successful social media advocacy program. We'll even be providing examples and some of the best practices so you can see its effectiveness. These campaigns, if carried out properly, will get people talking about your brand and who wouldn't want that?
How To Set Up A Social Media Advocacy Program
When building a strong social media advocacy program, one must know how to leverage its own community. There are many ways to do this. You can look for fans and influencers who support you publicly. You can also check who from your employees are singing praises for your brand online. But before we go further into that, let's start first with by focusing on your goals for this program.
Planning and Setting Goals
For starters, you need to determine what you are trying to accomplish with this program. Here are few questions to help you out:
- Who is your target audience and which social media platforms are they most active on?
- What type of content should be put out that supports your content marketing mission?
- What resources do you have that can be used for your social media advocacy program?
Another method that can help bring structure into your goals and objectives is S.M.A.R.T. goal setting. They can help evaluate your plans and even outline your program with ease. It is one of the most effective tools in identifying and specifying goals.
Finding Brand Advocates
Once you have determined what you want to achieve through the program, the next step is to find the right people who will be your brand advocates. As mentioned earlier, these are consumers who are highly motivated to talk favorably about your products or services on their own social media channels without an incentive.
Finding advocates can be tough especially if you know nothing about your existing community. So, to find the right participants for this program, you should be able to identify those who truly enjoy your product or service so much that they take it upon themselves to tell others about it. One straightforward way of knowing if they are a good fit for your program is by checking their profiles online. If they talk about your brand and often recommend it to their friends, that's when you know you found the perfect candidate.
When you cultivate and encourage people who truly value your brand, not only do you build a deeper connection with them, but they also turn into indispensable assets for your business. But, let's not dismiss the fact that your employees can be your best brand advocates, which brings us to our next point.
Converting Employees To Advocates
Getting your workforce to share articles about your company or raise brand awareness by recommending a product or service to friends or family members is one of the ways how employee advocacy works. To have a better understanding of what this means, here's a diagram that illustrates its significance.
According to Edelman's findings, consumers trust companies that treat their employees well. In fact, 52% of the consumers trust the employees more than the highest-ranking person in the company. Yes, we're talking about the CEOs and business owners. Do you see the importance of making your employees brand advocates now?
It's easier to recruit employees as your advocates since they might already be your biggest supporters. It's a different story for external brand advocates. It will take time to identify and choose the right people to join your team. You might find this blog we wrote on How To Involve Your Employees In Your Social Media Marketing interesting.
Keeping Advocates Active Online
How do you ensure your brand advocates will be on board with your social media advocacy program? Here are some ways:
- Give them access to social media management tools as well as provide training
- Have a reward system such as offering incentives for leads generated
- Host contests or giveaways specifically meant for your brand advocates
- Offer inside scoops or give first dibs on new products and services
- Keep in touch by acknowledging their activities and mentions on social media
Best Practices On Social Media Advocacy
Now that you know the steps in setting up your own brand advocacy program, let's talk about the best practices to make its implementation easier.
When Recruiting Advocates
Reaching out and tapping your most passionate customers to become ambassadors for your brand will require you to foster a relationship with these individuals. You can do this by:
- Engaging with the content they share by commenting or following their social media profiles
- Featuring your supporters or fans on your social media channels by giving them a shout-out
- Sending them vouchers, discount coupons, swag bags or even hand-written letters
You need to introduce an Employee Advocacy program. Basically, it will empower employees to advocate for your company. It will help boost your company's credibility and it will be shown through the strong relationship you have built with your employees. Here are few tips on how you can turn employees into loyal brand ambassadors:
- Acknowledge internal advocates by following them on social media using corporate accounts
- Repost the most creative content by employees using the official account of the company
- Monitor their activity using a social media management tool and highlight their positive contribution to the company
Brand Advocacy Programs That Rocked
Ever heard of this brand? It's a liquid antiseptic that has been around since the 1950s and is owned by a company called Reckitt Benckiser. They were able to successfully launch a program that promoted word-of-mouth communication about their product focused on influencer moms. The results were pretty remarkable because their overall brand awareness increased five times and their sales increased 86 percent as a result of the campaign.
Here's an advocacy program that truly rocked social media. Make-A-Wish Foundation is a non-profit organization helping children with life-threatening illnesses or disabilities and providing them with special experiences. During 2013, a 5-year old child diagnosed with leukemia wished that he could be Batkid even just for a day. The response they got was pretty extraordinary!
- 1.89 million social impressions
- 555,697 #batkid hashtags
- Crashed website because of increased donations
These are just two examples of organizations that were able to create and build successful programs that helped amplify brand awareness as well as their events and causes.