There are many marketing techniques now readily available, implementing various media to boast about brands – whether it’s on billboards or your screen, advertising is used everywhere.
But instead of handing out fliers about your business, you could use a more efficient advertisement method: social media advocacy. It involves using third-party cheerleaders, also known as brand advocates, to promote your business through their social media feed.
It’s a new-age form of the age-old tactic: word-of-mouth marketing, or for short, WoM. It’s a great way to generate meaningful relationship moments.
Nielsen reports that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than ads. This is a trend that’s growing over time.
It’s an efficient method of advertising through the younger generation as well. This is what most businesses aspire to achieve since Gen Z is one of the largest groups to listen and tell these customer-based brand stories. Retail Dive recently reported a case study by Yes Lifestyle Marketing, which showed that over 80% of Gen Z and 74% of Millennials were allegedly influenced by social media when making shopping decisions.
What is social media advocacy, and how will it promote your business?
Social media advocacy includes boosting the social persona of the interested/invested people in your continued prevailing success: your customers and employees. For many companies, these two target groups are their largest untapped resources as well as their biggest fans.
By turning people who actively discuss and advocate your company to their own feed into brand advocates, you can maximize your reach and generate other brand affinities.
Brand advocates have an advantage over other company-led advertising methods like influencer marketing, for example, since brand advocates are either customers or they already work for you, so they have a deeper connection than, say, an influencer who is hired to the highest bidder.
In fact, while 18 percent of the population trust brand influencers, 92 percent trust brand advocates. And 9 out of 10 consumers rather trust recommendations from family and friends than online ads.
Why should brands design social media advocacy programs?
A social media advocacy campaign is much more effective than relying on traditional advertising methods. In the age of computers, word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful marketing resource available to businesses worldwide.
By recruiting existing fans into advocates, you can increase awareness for your brand, develop strong customer bonds, and facilitate customer feedback reception.
Google reported that 60 percent of business technology customers are motivated by other consumers’ reviews and testimonials when making shopping decisions.
How to create a social media advocacy campaign?
The primary key to creating efficient social media advocacy programs lies in boosting your existing supportive communities. You could do this by:
- Referencing the right fans
- Strategically targeting the right influencers
- Leveraging employee converters
1. Plan in advance and define your objectives
First, consider what you’re aiming to achieve with your advocacy program. What kind of brand advocates are you looking to create a community with?
Try to set your goals in a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and appropriate manner. You could use different methods and practices; for example, our friends at Hootsuite have developed the S.M.A.R.T goal-setting program to help you set the most effective goals possible.
2. Recruit brand advocates
After setting goals, you’ll need to find and choose the brand advocates that help you with your promotion campaign the best. Recruit them to your cause and grow excitement among them with your business strategies.
Make sure that there are enough incentives and valuable opportunities for participants involved.
To find the best advocates for your social media advocacy program, you need to ask yourself a few questions in the process of recruitment to understand who you want to target:
- What are their pain points?
- What incentives would be of great value to them?
- What are they interested in?
- Who is their target audience on social media? Who do they engage with?
These are great strategies for finding the perfect brand advocate, but never forget the most valuable resource you already have in the pantry: your employees.
3. Convert employees into advocates
Employees could be fantastic advocates for your campaign. Using the company’s workforce to amplify messaging and online customer support on social media and other platforms drastically increases your social media campaigns’ reach without using extra resources. Yet a lot of companies still don’t do this.
If you’re asking whether people could trust employees working for your brand, Communications marketing firm Edelman posted a recent survey result demonstrating 52% of consumers considered employees as very credible sources of information about a business.
4. Keep advocates engaged
Your brand could get bigger than you imagine before you know it. You might be juggling hundreds of brand advocates, influencers, and/or ambassadors in no time, marketing your brand in their own way.
In order to keep enough incentive for advocates to put in the effort to work, you’ll need to create value for it, whether it be money, discount codes, freebies, or various courses and programs to help them level up their career. You could even gamify the advocacy program – like a contest, and motivate them to compete with each other for a set prize. This will keep your brand advocates dedicated to your business.
Best practices and tips for brand advocates
That was a concise guide on the nature of social media advocacy and how to implement it for your own business. Here are a few best practices to maximize your experience of recruiting brand advocates – and keeping them engaged:
Tips for recruiting brand advocates
- Follow back users following you and engage in their content.
- Don’t be stingy with likes, comments, and shares.
- Reward the people who stand out in your community.
- Hand out swag, freebies, merch, and discount coupons.
- Send out handwritten letters to dedicated fans.
Tips for keeping brand advocates engaged
- Follow them on social media from corporate and executive accounts to boost their platforms
- Retweet/reshare the most invigorating post tweeted by your advocates from the company account
- Create a contest in which everyone who shared a piece of content for you can compete for a prize
- Keep track of consistent and loyal sharers to managers as evidence of collaboration to use later for reward distribution
- Acknowledge frequent sharers in company meetings and shoutouts
Examples of successful social media brand advocacy campaigns
Furniture guru Ikea created a contest on Facebook called the #JoyOfStorage campaign, inviting fans to post pictures of Ikea products in their homes for the chance of winning a prize.
This resulted in a satisfactory U.G.C. (User-generated content) that itself turned into a mini-advertising campaign for the contest and the company. This, in turn, encouraged more people to participate.
Starbucks ran a @Tweetacoffee Twitter campaign, which generated $180,000 in direct sales in less than a month. Users were only supposed to tweet the hashtag, mentioning the user handle of someone they wanted to “tweet a coffee” too. Recipients could easily transfer the free coffee to their Starbucks account, ready to be enjoyed.
Here’s a quick sum-up of what you need to know about building an efficient social media advocacy campaign for your brand:
- Design your strategy in line with your marketing objectives
- Create a buyer persona to understand what your fans care about
- Don’t overlook employees when identifying social media advocates
- Make a connection with your advocates
- Reward your social media advocates creatively
- Give your audience a story to tell, and then help them tell it
- Be genuine and authentic with your audience