Brand Advocacy: Social Media’s Sweet Spot

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[This is an excerpt from the ground-breaking new book by Zuberance Founder/CEO Rob Fuggetta, "Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force" (Wiley, 2012)]

SOCIAL MEDIA HANGOVER

Many marketers are experiencing a “social media hangover.”

They’re starting to question the value of getting more like and followers. They’re seeing that only 10 to 15 percent of fans ever return to a brand’s pages on Facebook, and that less than 1 percent of fans engage with brands on social networks. And here’s the dirty little secret about social media: doing social media right takes a lot of people and time, two things most companies don’t have.

Social media may be inexpensive compared to traditional media. But social media isn’t free. If you add up the cost of all the people required to manage an effective social media program for a company, you’d be surprised how large the tab really is.

GET SOCIAL OR DIE

Companies can’t afford not to be doing social.

You must use the communication channels your customers and others use, and, increasingly, those channels are social. There are now more than 800 million active Facebook users, with more than 200 million added in 2011, according to the Social Media Examiner. Plus, there are now 100 million active Twitter users (they log in at least once a day). In fact, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the power of social media. The technology is transformational.

Even if you can’t measure or prove social media ROI, you can’t afford not to be using it. If there wasn’t a ROI, would you not do social?

ADVOCACY: SOCIAL MEDIA’S SWEET SPOT

Ironically, the most valuable thing you can do with social media is something that’s been around marketing ever since Eve said to Adam: “Here, take a bite out this apple. I recommend it.”

It’s getting your enthusiastic customers (AKA “Brand Advocates”) to recommend your company, brand, products, and services.

As the founder of a company that sells advocacy technology and services, you probably think I’m biased.

Guilty as charged.

But I’m also a career marketer like you. I’ve tried every type of marketing tool and technique. I’ve created some award-winning marketing campaigns and some duds. I’ve never seen any marketing approach work better than getting your Advocates to do your marketing for you. But don’t trust me. Ask the Advocates of this approach.

YOUR CUSTOMERS ARE WAY AHEAD OF YOU

A while ago, I attended a market research firm’s annual event for marketers. Speaker after speaker urged marketers to innovate, to try new approaches.

“Your customers are way ahead of you!” they proclaimed. “They’re ignoring your ads and using word of mouth networks instead,” speakers ranted.

Marketers in the audience applauded wildly. And then they went to lunch with their ad agency to plan their next ad blitz.

MOVING THE DOLLARS

It’s time to take a few of the dollars you’re spending now on underperforming tools that don’t work very well, like billboards and ads, and invest in advocacy.

Nancy Terry, SVP of marketing of Sport & Health Clubs in the Washington, DC, area, is a fitness marketer who gets it. Like lots of other marketers, her budget isn’t getting any bigger. So she’s moving some of her marketing dollars from other marketing tools that aren’t working very well into advocacy.

“I am one hundred percent convinced that getting our enthusiastic members to help market our club is an approach that will work,” said Nancy, as she launched an advocacy program in early 2012. “After all, word of mouth is the number one way we get leads today. Why not invest in what’s working?” she asks.

Good question.

-Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance (@robfuggetta)

Click here to purchase Brand Advocates.

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