Encourage Advocacy through Social Media

Today, we live in a world where Facebook and Twitter have become verbs, where we “Facebook” items that we find interesting or profound in order to share them with our friends, family members, or simply with the general public. By sharing that video of a kitten playing the piano you are, automatically, saying to your friends, “this video is worth your attention.” The same principal can be applied to business.

In a study conducted last year by MarketingProfs and Junta42, with the help of the Business Marketing Association (BMA) and American Business Media (ABM), it was found that while 79% of companies say they use some form of social media, it is generally considered to have the lowest efficacy rate of all their marketing tactics. However, this should not be the case.

Social media is an incredibly powerful tool, not just for engaging with customers at the beginning, when you are trying to attract their interest, but later in the process, when the goal is to keep their attention. Through effective social media tactics, it is even possible to turn customers into advocates on your behalf, spreading the word and bringing in new customers.

The Facebook “Like” Button

At present, Facebook features well over 500 million users, each with an average of 130 friends. With such an immense network, this tool holds nearly endless possibilities for spreading the word about your products and content.

The “Like” button was introduced as recently as April 2010. However, since then, over 70% of the web’s top performing sites have started to feature this tool. Through the “Like” button, visitors can share content with their Facebook network with only the click of a button.

SEO-optimized content marketing is already considered an ideal means of attracting visitors to your website, and for turning such visitors into customers. In a previous article, I wrote about the ways in which account-based marketing can be integrated into your content strategy in order to focus content on particular consumers and ensure their continued business. Here, we will take the process one step further to consider how including a “Like” button can encourage such customers to share this custom content with their friends.

When developing content for distribution on Facebook, it is important to consider the kind of material that will have the broadest appeal. For example, statistics show that provocative debates get two to three times more “Likes” than other pieces. However, ultimately, it is most important to consider what will appeal most to your customer base.

Also, studies show that content is more likely to be shared when the button is placed in a prominent position. Generally, sites that place the “Like” button on both the main and content pages receive between two and ten times more clicks than those that place the button on the main page alone. The “Like” button can even be included with content marketing email campaigns.

The “Retweet”

Another popular form of social media for business at the moment is Twitter. With Twitter, companies can interact personally with their clients through brief, succinct messages. Customers can then “retweet” communications they find particularly appealing, sharing them with friends and followers.

The key to creating a message that followers will want to “retweet” is to devise something personal, witty, or otherwise engaging. With Twitter, it is particularly important to have content that is immediately engaging, as 92% of “retweets” occur within the first hour after viewing. After the first hour, the number of “retweets” drops considerably.

With this goal of creating immediately engaging material in mind, it is advisable to consider interactive tweets in particular. This refers specifically to tweets where the reader is asked not only to read the material, but also to actually click through to another webpage, to respond, to collect on an offer, or to engage in some other way. However, no matter what kind of material you choose, ensure that it is chosen deliberately, to cater to the specific needs of your particular demographic, and with the ultimate goal of either increasing visitor traffic or creating awareness for your own content.

The tweet can be an incredibly powerful form of advocacy if used correctly. Though only a few words, Twitter content can be “retweeted” hundreds of times, bringing that particular content to countless users.

Reward Customers for Sharing

Although these simple, inconspicuous ways of encouraging customers to share your content with their friends can be effective, it can also be helpful to simply offer incentives for recruitment. There are countless ways that you can offer motivations for sharing that will encourage your customers to advocate on your behalf without making them feel bought.

Here are just a few examples of tactics that could be used:

·     Offer entry into a drawing for those who “Like” your page on Facebook

·     Offer a discount on future purchases to those who recommend your product to others

·     Create a loyalty scheme, by which repeat customers get rewards for both themselves and to share with their friends

Whichever method you choose, whether it is one of these listed or an original idea of your own, it is imperative that the offer be one that will appeal to your particular client base. When devising your strategy, consider who typically buys your products, and develop an offer that will appeal to those particular individuals or businesses.

In Summary

In today’s techno-centric society, social media forums comprise vast peer networks. These networks can be utilized for your benefit to enable clients to advocate on your behalf. In order to integrate social media share tools into your content marketing strategy, consider the following steps:

1)     Pick a method: Which technique do you wish to employ? How do you want to encourage existing clients to become advocates on your behalf?

2)     Think about content: How does your existing content development strategy reflect these goals? How can your content be optimized to encourage clients to share it with others?

3)     Execute. Design a strategy surrounding your chosen method and your newly optimized content that utilizes interactive features such as a “Like” button or a special offer, which will help you to reach your goals.

First and foremost, when attempting to utilize social media to promote advocacy amongst your client base, it is important to develop very particular content that is mindful of an account-based marketing philosophy. With the addition of interactive social media tools, clients can then become actively engaged with your content on forums such as Facebook and Twitter, where they can subsequently introduce others to your work.

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Kate Boehme is the lead researcher for Content Equals Money. She has a MA in Imperial and Commonwealth History and is currently a PhD candidate in History at Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Her ability to find quality statistics and key sources make the most of any project.

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