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How do you leverage your Facebook community in brand advocacy?

June 11, 2012

Contribution from: Susan Frech, CEO, Social Media Link

There’s a lot of conversation today surrounding “brand advocacy” and “influencer marketing” in social media. Advocacy for your brand has a vital impact in driving awareness, creating conversation and generating more business. Over the past several years, many brands have turned to Facebook to “cultivate” brand advocates, often going to great lengths to build their fan pages. In fact, more than $1.8 billion dollars was spent in Facebook in 2010, with the average cost to acquire a fan at about $1.07.

A common mistake many marketers make is thinking because someone has “liked” your small business brand means they are an automatic advocate. In reality, a little more than 1% of consumers will actually engage with your fan page.

Current engagement in Facebook can range anywhere from polls and contests to videos and funny status updates, but overall, 67% of consumers “like” a brand because they want to be eligible for exclusive offers.

There is a clear disconnect between what fans really want, and marketers think they want. Marketers ultimately want a brand advocate, someone to promote their brand for free. Conversely, fans want exclusive offers. What is the best way to identify influencers and advocates and activate them to share? Furthermore, at the end of the day, how do you measure the impact?

Being one of the founders at Social Media Link, we’ve executed countless advocacy programs for brands through our influencer and engagement platform, Smiley360.com. Throughout our years in business, they’re following have been some resounding themes in every program we have executed.

Not all Facebook fans are the same.

Segment consumers and customize the messaging and engagement.

Create a brand experience for consumers to talk about.

Just as you can’t recommend a movie without seeing it, people can’t recommend your brand without a chance to try it. Encourage consumers to tell their story and how your brand played a part.

Educate consumers.

Consumer don’t immediately know the benefits of your product or what to share about it.  Include touch points with relevant brand information.

Make it easy to share.

There are 300+ social networking sites for consumers to engage in, so give consumers access to their most preferred social networks.

Bring value.

Advocates want to be the first to introduce their friends to something new. Give them something relevant to share with their networks to increase pass-along and viral sharing.

Grow and learn.

Use your learnings to foster deeper consumer relationship and learn who your biggest influencers are.

Ongoing engagement.

Reward your top influencer and cultivate others in your community to become advocates.

At the end of the day, finding influencers within your own community offers a great benefit in maximizing your marketing investments, online and offline. A great quote from Brandon McCormick who leads all global advertising communication at Facebook that captures this idea is, “Acquiring a fan is ‘just the beginning’ of how marketers can use Facebook. On Facebook, the magic of marketing happens when brands activate their fans in ways that inspire people to share those messages with their friends.”

About Susan Frech

Susan is co-founder and CEO of Social Media Link, bringing more than 16 years of experience within the marketing services industry, working with clients like Unilever, ConAgra, Reckitt-Benckiser and Pfizer. Smiley360 is Social Media Link’s influencer and activation platform launched in 2009 with over 300,000 consumers with the goal of amplifying brand conversations throughout social media.  A passion for the start-up and entrepreneurial environment, she brings a unique combination of brand, retail, sampling, digital and social media experience creating a very integrated approach to her clients’ campaigns.