Power Up Advocacy, Sales by Improving Social Engagement Rates
The buying process for almost any given product has evolved like crazy over the past decade. Business models have been radically changed with the rise of digital marketing. The “Age of the Customer” is in full effect.
Social media has only added fuel to this fire. A LOT of fuel. The reason being is that it has given everyone a voice that can be heard by the masses.
The harsh reality of conducting business these days is that the stakes are incredibly high. Not only will customers not come back after a bad experience, they will (more than likely) be inclined to share it with the world. Marketing research has found that it takes 12 positive customer experiences to make up for a single negative experience.
On the flip side, this concept can be used to your advantage. Positive experiences create brand advocacy. When these experiences are shared on social media, it can be a game-changer in skyrocketing engagement rates and making sales. Here’s how to do it.
Give Your Brand Human Characteristics
Social media gives brands a golden opportunity to humanize their messaging. Brands are more than just brands these days. They have a face, they have character made up of certain personality traits, and they have opinions that might well translate to thought leadership.
One great example of brand personification that has worked well is “Flo” from insurance company Progressive.
Nearly everyone is familiar with the insurance commercials featuring this funny character, and she has become a pop culture icon of sorts. On Facebook, she beats out her parent Progressive in terms of likes by over 4 million.
Clearly, people identify with Flo much more than they do with Progressive insurance itself, making her an excellent marketing tool. The beauty of using a brand mascot is that a virtual personality gives a company in a “boring industry” something (everything, in fact) to talk about, and there is no risk of the character getting involved in a scandal.
Generally speaking, people prefer to buy from people they like. Social media provides a wonderful opportunity to let desirable characteristics shine. The more you can humanize your brand messaging, the easier it will be for people to connect with it.
Turn Employees Into Advocates
Social media opens up valuable avenues for employee advocacy, which can effectively contribute to a positive image. Because social media is so transparent, this branding tactic can make a profound impact on customers. Consumers tend to trust people over brands. Hearing great things about a company from an industry insider or people who’ve actually bought and used their products can prove to be far more credible than paid marketing.
Research by MSL Group has found that sharing brand messages through employees’ social media accounts can result in 561 percent more reach than the same messages shared by the brand’s official accounts. More reach equals more engagement potential. More engagement potential equals more sales.
Starbucks does a great job of this. For example, they refer to baristas as “partners,” not employees, to help them understand the crucial part they play in the company. This terminology builds brand loyalty among the staff, and they are often glad to share fun stories and pictures through their personal social media accounts.
— Renee Reinmann (@ReinmannRenee) September 15, 2016
Using social media to showcase the positive vibes that go on behind the scenes is a great way to put people at ease and encourage engagement rates.
Partner With Social Influencers
Social media has ushered in a new approach to sales. Instead of relying on tactics, like cold calling or traditional advertising, businesses are able to strategically position their messaging to be seen by the most interested people at the right time through the right channels. The result is a more engaging, person-to-person experience, rather than strictly business-to-person.
One of the most powerful forms of social selling these days is promoting your brand, products and services through influencer marketing. A TapInfluence study found that delivering content using influencer marketing can result in an ROI 11-times greater than traditional forms of digital marketing, while a Tomoson survey of 125 marketers revealed that businesses make as much as $6.50 for every dollar spent on influencer marketing.
We see influencer marketing at work all of the time; just take a scroll through Instagram and you are quite likely to see an example. Of course, the key to making influencer marketing effective is connecting with the right person who reaches that business’s target market. For example, Milk and Eggs is a food delivery service that primarily focuses on healthy meals and groceries. Therefore, it often connects with Instagram influencers who post about healthy living — a ready fit, because the majority of these people’s followers are already interested in this topic.
Using influencers as brand advocates can do wonders for engagement and social sales. Tools like Buzzsumo and Talkwalker are designed to help you find the most ideal candidates from blogs and social media respectively, by looking at trending topics and content relevant to your industry, and identifying personalities based on their creativity and audience profiles.
Provide Value Beyond Just Your Products or Services
When people are scrolling through their timelines, chances are, they’re not looking for sales pitches or overly aggressive brand messaging. Social selling isn’t just about promoting products and services. In many ways, it’s about sharing knowledge. This concept is crucial in the modern sales cycle and is a fantastic way to build trust — and, in turn, advocacy.
Making it a point to provide your audience with valuable insights is one of the most important means of boosting engagement. Through your research, you have likely gained an understanding of what your customers are reading, watching, sharing and buzzing about. Even more, you have learned what their major pain points are. Using this knowledge, your content should work to answer the burning questions and solve common problems.
Neil Patel had loads of experience in the marketing industry and has helped found several big-name companies like Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics. However, he is better known these days by his own personal website and social channels, where he shares a great deal of information on all aspects of digital marketing.
Patel often looks out for topics that are trending or growing in popularity and then posts about them in blog articles, videos, podcasts and more. Through his content, he offers neat tips and tricks for business owners while also advertising his own marketing services.
With a little effort and help from technology, you can do the same in your industry (at a smaller and more limited scale, if you will). Social listening tools like Awario and Mention allow you to track things like brand mentions, keywords, and sentiment across social networks to get an idea for what’s trending and how you can address topics accordingly.
These insights are the key to creating content that the masses find relevant and useful. Social selling starts with education. In order to provide value and pique people’s enthusiasm, you need to have a firm grasp on what exactly they want and like, and what will surprise them.
Over to You
Advocacy and social selling go hand-in-hand. One of the basic concepts of social media is to create larger followings that spread across the globe, because customers trust other people much more than brands. You just can’t stop at the sale — advocacy needs to be a top priority in your marketing strategy.
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Rohan Ayyar is the regional marketing manager for India at SEMrush. His blog, The Marketing Mashup, covers digital marketing from the perspective of B2B, B2C, lead generation, mobile marketing, SEO, social media, content marketing, database marketing including predictive analytics, and conversion rate optimization. In addition, he'll look at emerging marketing technology and how marketers can use it. Reach Ayyar at firstname.lastname@example.org.