Last week I walked into work, turned on my computer, popped in my earbuds and attended a free, online international social media conference, the annual Connect via Hootsuite conference. It was a first for me and definitely the most unique conference I’ve attended in my career.
As I listened to multiple industry leaders present on the latest social media trends and strategies, I noticed two topics that came up regularly throughout the day: metrics and advocacy.
Social Media Metrics
If you aren’t already using your social media metrics to guide your overall strategy, you should be. The top social media platforms provide detailed metrics for company/brand pages. These metrics can provide you with high-level demographic data of your fans/followers, which posts they’re engaging with, and even what time of day they are online so you can post your content at the optimal time for them to see it.
While these metrics can be extremely useful to businesses, it’s important to use the metrics wisely. Vik Kambli, Western Canada Region Head at Facebook, asserted that clicks on social media posts (likes/reactions) don’t necessarily lead to buying outcomes for a business. He reminded the audience that some people are just more “clicky” on social media than others.
Kambli suggests that businesses instead use people-based data like their interests, location, demographics and behaviors across all channels, not just social. This includes email, website and even loyalty programs or CRM (customer relationship management) program, if your company has one. According to Kambli, siloed measurement can lead to missed results.
To further expand on this idea, Will McInnes, CMO of Brandwatwch, reminded viewers that in business, getting an edge matters. And the best way to get an edge with social media data is to blend it. He had a great example of an ice cream company that blended their data to achieve amazing success. This company thought their price cuts during the summer would positively affect sales because they assumed customers only ate ice cream during the warmer months. When they looked at the numbers and realized that this wasn’t the case, they turned to their social insights and found that the customer habits were very different from what they thought. People talked on social media about eating ice cream on the weekend, particularly when the weather was bad. Their customers wanted to stay at home on the couch eating ice cream on the weekends while they were binge-watching the latest show on Netflix. This turned out to be a multimillion-dollar insight for this company when they used this data to their advantage.
Another way to think of social media metrics, as McInnes put it: “qualitative insight at a quantitative scale.”
However, he made a point to remind listeners that you can’t have a sample/selection bias. Don’t assume people on social are representative of the people you’re interested in targeting, or that the people you’re interested in are posting anything about you on social.
Social Media Advocacy
Equally as important as (and sometimes combined with) social media media metrics is social media advocacy. According to several members of Hootsuite’s leadership (Stefan Krepiakevich, Cameron Uganec, and Matt Switzer) who presented about advocacy and the bottom line, “social media advocacy matters because it helps your brand but it also helps your social media reach.”
As a company you can have both internal and external advocates on social media. With a solid plan in place, both employees and customers can support your social media marketing plans. It’s important to have a clear objective for your advocacy program. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to increase sales? These are important questions to ask before you develop your program.
According to Uganec, who focused more on customer advocacy, to develop customer advocates, you must listen, build, engage and share.
BUILD: Add value by inspiring, educating or entertaining customers with thoughtful moderation, relevant content and online/offline experiences.
ENGAGE: Create programs to keep your community active and engaged in your business. Incentivize your superfans through custom giveaways, early product offerings, swag, recognition, etc.
SHARE: Provide relevant content to your customer advocates and share their content (if applicable) to sustain the relationship.
Alicia Taggio, Advocate Marketing Manager for Hootsuite, focused on employee advocates. She explained how changing digital trends reflect the changing customer journey. For example, Altimeter’s “Social Media Employee Advocacy 2016” survey found:
- 21% of consumers report “liking” employee posts – far higher than the average brand post or social ad
- 67% of consumers surveyed trust recommendations from families and friends
- 90% of brands surveyed by Altimeter have plans to pursue employee advocacy strategies in 2017
As I’ve already mentioned in a previous blog post, organic reach is declining and social media is becoming more pay-to-play for businesses. But the current data does suggest that personal profile posts still get higher reach than brand pages. So your advocates can amplify those messages for you too.
To be successful with social media marketing, It’s no longer enough to just set up an account for your store and post whatever you want whenever you have time. You have to use the tools provided by these platforms to develop a plan that also includes internal and external advocates to support your goals and programs.