When it comes to social media channels, over 70% of people in the United States have at least one profile on social media. New users are constantly joining the virtual world on various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. We all know social media allows us to connect, share and communicate with others that hold similar interests and social circles.
Businesses of all backgrounds are capitalizing on social media’s popularity. With ever-expanding opportunities to find their ideal customers, social media bridges a very intimate gap between the consumer and the seller, connecting with them in relatable, specific and organic aspects. How can a business wade the waters between sales-forward advertising and establishing lasting relationships? The answer is 2 words, Brand Advocacy.
What Is Brand Advocacy?
Brand advocacy is about pooling resources together, such as people with a large fanbase and following, to share a brand, product or message on their social channels. In other words, it’s a way to spread the love with those who would otherwise miss out or look past the opportunity when presented to them. By sharing a message with fans who trust and interact with you, the results are of higher quality. People who leave comments and product reviews on a company or host site like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Houzz are indirect advocates. They are sharing honest feedback without an incentive.
How Does Brand Advocacy Function?
Brand advocacy is a successful organic way to gain results for a new startup company, feature product or a simple blog post. You don’t need to wait on promoting something important until your page reaches your fan goal of 50,000 followers (which of course takes longer that expected). Instead announce it to your employees, family and friends. Ask them to share the post or create their own content to discuss what you want to share. Send them a link to leave a review on a third party site. It’s amazing to see how far one Facebook post or tweet can travel. It just might even go viral!
Find Your Brand Advocates
First, you must identify what kind of content or information you want to share with the virtual world. Once that is mapped out, it’s time to do some digging. Find people with large followings on social media who share an interest in what your business or startup has to offer. Connecting with people in your niche is the most valuable, so everyone can benefit from the relationship. You can also reach out to top customers, employees, family and anyone in between. Go all out; you can never have too many friends on Facebook and followers on Instagram.
Everyone Loves Candy
The last step is providing an incentive. Of course asking for favors is an acceptable method, but the best brand advocates are ones who feel loyal to you and understand that they are appreciated. Offering them a complimentary service, gift certificate or treating them to a nice dinner, are all modest ways of making a trade without putting a price on it. Sending an email with a redeemable coupon code to anyone who rates your brand or leaves a product review is another viable option. The little steps go a long way with building up brand awareness and solidifying the brand persona.
When it comes to adding value to any startup or business, both large and small, brand advocates can be very influential without the wasteful advertising costs. Add in an element of surprise to your customer service, like putting a small gadget into every delivery or shoot a behind the scenes video and send it to your email lists.
Real Brands, Real Brand Advocates
Give people something to talk about. Make them brand advocates without even asking. And be sure to stay active on all social channels (especially on Twitter and Snapchat) to scout out natives who can support you and join the community. Remember, happy people are the ones who spend money and keep you in business. #StartAdvocating
Episode 5 of our monthly marketing podcast dives deep into the existential realm of social media. We talk about the questions no one is asking, the taboos, the news, and the evolution of the anomaly that is social media. Tune in and make sure you bookmark our blog for more marketing goodness.
Ajax Union is a full service digital marketing agency based in Brooklyn, New York.
A field of change: contemporary marketing.
The marketing landscape is a perpetually changing scene, the only constant in this industry is that it will inevitably change. What once was an in-print advertorial is now a lifestyle blogger with 300k Facebook followers capable of mass promoting a brand by posting a single photograph with a #hashtag. It’s challenging to stay current in this dynamic environment to say the least.
A relatively new frontier is the social media sphere. A sphere where one in seven people in the entire world reside. Take a moment to think about that, one-in-seven human beings on this planet utilizes social media platforms, like Facebook. Now how are you going to harness the power of this considerably large group of potential customers?
Most marketers think of social media as a way of building a brand. While they are correct, this methodology is limiting the scope of reach available to businesses worldwide. A steady flow of leads most definitely can come from social media, it is far more than just a way to build a brand and engage with your community. Social media is still one of the most powerful channels for building a brand and generating buzz, and now it is progressively used for lead generation.
The efficient marketing dollar.
Social media is a cost effective method of generating leads. Bringing people into your sales funnel is what lead generation is all about. Lead generation is very similar to an intelligence agency gathering data on their users. As marketers, this data about the leads is used to find out who the target audience is, which products you could sell to them, and how you can eventually turn them into paying customers.
Today, methods of generating leads include distributing gated content, email opt-ins, viral video marketing, and social media – all aimed at landing the leads into your sales funnel. With the ability to execute these tasks online, it is now quicker, more effective, easier to track, and cost efficient.
Ready, set, goal.
By now I hope you’ve gathered social media is a powerful lead generation platform that runs on minimum cost with maximum benefits. But, you can’t start any type of marketing without a goal. This is an opportune time to sit with your team, a diverse group of employees from different departments preferably, and create a set of lead identification goals.
Specific questions to ask:
How many leads and in what period of time?
Who is your lead, who do you want as a lead?
What does a perfect lead look like?
How would you attract this perfect lead?
Once goal parameters are initiated and decided upon, it’s time to focus on a strategy on how to get those leads.
Content content content.
Before embarking on the quest for more leads, you must first chart your plan, in other words you need to create a content strategy. Said strategy should focus on creating content for your website, blog, and all social media channels. But not just any content will do. Create content that is purpose driven; content created for content’s sake not only diminishes the credibility of your brand, but wastes time. Instead of turning out 5 blog posts a week, write 1 great post – the time spent on it will reflect the caliber of your business. Every team member involved in writing content should be a part of the content strategy creation plan, this will motivate everyone to create content that is purpose driven. A lead generating plan will be less successful if the quality of your content is questionable or not purpose driven.
Share great content.
Capturing leads on social media is not as simple as posting a newsletter signup link on your Facebook page. If you want to turn a lead into a prospect, you’re going to have to dedicate work to it. And that means creating and sharing great content. Great content implements imagery, graphic design, video, audio, is relevant to your audience, and inspires them to engage with it.
Use social media to tell stories. You’ve already outlined in the content strategy plan that you intend to create great content that will generate leads. How you deliver this content is just as important. The unique thing about social media is that it’s, well, social. People are sharing, telling stories, shouting their accomplishments from their virtual rooftops. Take advantage of this by crafting and delivering your content in a way that mimics what is already happening on the social channel. Tell a story. Don’t talk at people on social media, talk with them. Ask for feedback, engage with the community in an organic way, and your content will perform better.
With one in every seven people on this planet on social media, there’s inevitably going to be a lot of sharing. Social media is a place where most people feel safe to share information. People readily share information from an array of subjects – from whom they’re voting for to what type of organic peanut butter they’re into.
Marketers have the ability to cater each campaign to a very specific group of people based on this open sharing platform. But with more information comes a big change. Social marketing is shifting away from company-to-buyer messaging. The new shift is in the empowerment of the individual, where influence reigns supreme. Peer-to-peer influence marketing is where current customers become brand advocates. Leveraging the power of this communication delivers increased brand authenticity at little to no cost to you, and it is one of the most credible forms of advertising.
Facebook news feed.
Facebook’s news feed uses an algorithm to determine which posts get displayed on a user’s news feed, their personal homepage on the network. Why is this important? In order for a lead generating campaign to be successful, you have to get your content in front of the people you created it for. It doesn’t matter if your team spent 20 hours crafting an award winning promotional video, if it doesn’t land in your potential leads news feed, there’s a big chance it will be missed entirely.
So how do you get your posts to appear? This algorithm is under constant construction, but like Google, it always responds to the users engagement. The word engagement is thrown around social media frequently, it’s importance is highly underrated. Engagement with your content is what will make your content, well, for lack of better words, more engaging. Basically, the more users interact with your content, the more it will show up on the news feed, where more people in their networks will be able to see it, and in turn, engage with it themselves. If engagement with the content is low, Facebook drops it from the news feed, where it will then live in your business page forever, or until you delete it.
Here are some other factors that the algorithm considers:
Affinity: How close is the relationship between the user and content?
Weight: What type of action was taken on the content?
Decay: How current is the content?
Post Types: What types of posts does a user typically interact with?
Hide Post/Spam: What types of posts does a user usually hide or mark as spam?
Clicking on Ads: Do users interact with the ad?
Device Considerations: Can multiple devices handle your content?
Story Bumping: A post may be older, but is it still being interacted with?
When creating your initial content strategy, take this news feed scenario into consideration. Don’t overcomplicate it. The type of content you create should relay your message, but consider making it fun, engaging, and native to the social channel.
Boosting your visibility.
So you must be wondering, can we buy our way into the news feed? Why, yes, yes you can. You can promote a post aka boost it. The amount you invest in boosting depends on how many people you want to reach. In this case more is not necessarily better, it depends on your content strategy, and marketing objectives.
Not only does promoting your post boost visibility, it extends the life of the post. With more visibility, comes more responsibility, and that means making sure there is a strong call to action in the post. A strong CTA can be anything from asking followers to download an asset, or fill out a quick form, or engage in a contest – whichever the CTA, just make sure there is one.
Invest a little more.
Facebook was launched in 2004, advertising on the platform was introduced one year later. Facebook advertising is a unique method of digital advertising, as no other portion of your marketing budget can mimic the potential value of social advertising. The concepts we touched upon earlier, like peer-to-peer influences, current customers becoming brand advocates, word-of-mouth, are all intensified through advertising. When someone sees that a friend already likes a product or service that came across their news feed, the barriers to entry are lowered, and trust in the brand is increased.
Facebook advertising is most effective when marketers take what is already being said about the product, and scream it from their proverbial virtual rooftop. It is word-of-mouth, propelled. With Facebook ads, users see the ads on a regular basis, they also get to see if their friend likes it too. Over a short period of time users get to see your ad multiple times, developing familiarity with your brand. This builds a level of trust and comfort, ultimately relieving some of the pressure for your website or landing page to deliver the message and immediately perform.
Facebook ads make people talk about your business. It creates brand advocates, influencers, and builds word-of-mouth. The ads on Facebook not only help you generate leads, but they help you build a long-lasting trusting relationship with your customer.
Lookalike audiences and predictive analytics, it’s fun stuff.
You know how when you own a minivan, all of a sudden you see hundreds of minivans on the road? Lookalike audiences is Facebook’s way of re-creating this phenomena. When you create an advertising campaign on Facebook, you have the option to reach people similar to your known audience, using a technique called “lookalike” audiences. Using your customer relationship management tool (CRM) to import a database, or list, of prospective clients, this tool allows you to create a segmented list composed of qualified identification information, like social handles and emails. Facebook then creates a “lookalike” audience using fancy algorithms. From there, you and your team can craft a specific marketing campaign to this lookalike audience, and tailor it however you’d like. Technology, man.
I bet you’re wondering where the bulleted tips section is? See below.
Quick tips for social media lead generation:
Organic traffic needs help; don’t be afraid to invest a portion of your marketing budget into social
Develop incredible content
Create strong and friendly call-to-actions
Always add value
Never forget that social is a two-way street
Tag relevant influencers
Post your content in relevant groups and communities
Develop a strategy before posting content
Know your target market
Engage, respond to comments, questions, and messages
Use industry leaders as guest writers to help build your content
Cross promote from your page, your other social channels, from partners, and at every chance you get
Reach out to industry partners, develop sharing partnerships
Take analytics seriously
Fun and sophisticated.
Social media platforms are becoming more and more sophisticated. Marketers now have an immense amount of opportunities to strategically attract leads. Gone are the days of simply building a following. The appeal of social media marketing is focused on turning those followers into warm leads, and these leads genuinely trust what you have to say, and are interested in hearing from you. So go get ‘em tiger!