While it may now seem archaic, there was a time not too long ago when marketers weren’t so sure what to do about social media. But things moved as fast as Twitter and Facebook feeds. No one denies that social media presence is now a crucial fabric of a brand itself, yet, social media marketers are still finding their way through some murky waters; they’re still trying to properly measure how many people they’re reaching, and how much engagement they’re generating.
And while engagement for many brands is through the roof, most are struggling to turn engagers into social advocates.
While tracking engagement remains important, identifying and cultivating social advocates for a brand, and recognizing what drives social advocacy, is where the power of the medium lies.
This is not to say that engagement is no longer important, or valuable. Utilizing a combination of available social analytics tools is a key way brands can begin gaining a deeper understanding of social engagement. Analytics are valuable for marketers to see metrics like raw engagement data (shares, likes, retweets etc.) as well as the share of engagement that brand owns (how much of the industry conversation a brand is owning). There will always be value in getting your message in front of the most people as possible, and seeing how much of the market a particular brand is driving.
However, there’s a reason raw data is called, well, raw. The number of likes, comments, and retweets doesn’t tell the whole tale in terms of effectiveness and ROI. Brands can find value in tracking sales, both directly and indirectly stemming from a social media campaign. Additionally, marketers should strive to use social media to increase awareness of, and craft attitudes towards, the brand, whether the aim is to strengthen existing feelings or change the narrative. But what leading companies do is utilize advocacy to amplify the reach and impact of their marketing and communications.
Social media allows consumers to become agents of a brand, where their reach is a lot broader than simple word of mouth. When people find something online they love, their inclination is often to share it with others. With billions of worldwide social media users, it’s the most natural, fertile ground for advocates. But it’s important to note that even the best brands are still figuring out how to properly drive advocacy. One of the main roadblocks is what can be known as the “advocacy gap”; the fact that there is still a relatively miniscule number of people who advocate for brands on their social media channels, even if they’re satisfied with the brand. On average, 99% of experiences are not generating advocacy.
For marketers, the goal is clear: transform fans and followers into advocates. This means looking deeper past the blunt metric of “sentiment”. Additionally, what fosters advocacy for one brand won’t necessarily do the same for another. Thus, marketers must understand these unique drivers and continue to emphasize them. Thickening the plot, things that often drive brand satisfaction are different from what propels passionate advocacy (Ryan Gosling?).
It’s not easy to sift through piles of data to find these intricate differences, but those who take the time to identify what drives advocacy will find their social media campaigns paying off in a big way.