4 Things We Learned About Brand Advocacy at Social Media Week

by Katie Kahler

For those of you not familiar with SMWi, I don’t blame you. This is actually the first year we’ve ever done it here in Austin, TX. To paraphrase some dude I overheard on the street, “Social Media Week is basically like a SXSW for social nerds.”

The Connections team here at T3 had 3 days to soak up a ton of that nerdy social knowledge and what stood out to us the most was the conversation across multiple panels on the subject of building brand advocacy. These are our favorite takeaways:

1. If you’re going to use influencers, use them well.

Influencer marketing isn’t anything new, but the landscape is rapidly evolving as both users and influencers become more savvy. To keep up with this evolution, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Consumers are getting wise to influencers who blindly promote products and services without having a real use for or interest in them.
  • Influencers themselves are becoming more discerning when it comes to the types of brands they’ll partner with. More are asking questions such as, “Will this benefit my audience?” and “Would I really use this product?”
  • Quality trumps quantity. As more brands are willing to shell out big bucks for promoted content, the demand for higher quality content is on the rise.
  • Instagram is rapidly becoming a popular platform for influencer content. As blogger Jane Ko of A Taste of Koko predicts, “2017 will be the rise of photographers as influencers.”
  • Micro-influencers are the next wave in influencer strategy. Says T3 Connections Director Angela Yang, “Micro-influencers may have small audience sizes, but they carry with them a loyal following of highly engaged users, which are highly valuable to brands.”

2. Listen to your audience more carefully than ever.

Personal connections are what drive users to take action. To get to that personal level, you have to listen to your users and truly build an understanding of their passion points.

  • Most interactions within the social space are 1:1, not 1:100. There’s a ton of branded messaging whirling around, but for every branded message out there, how many @ replies and direct comments do you think there are? As usual, brands have to continue to speak to their audience in general, but it is becoming increasingly important to speak to them as individuals as well, especially considering the rise of customer care (not to mention AI) in social.
  • Interacting with users is critical, but only if you’re actually listening to them . Leveraging social listening can be used to identify how your brand is perceived in social, but it can also help identity what other topics resonate with your audience. Using these insights effectively will help build campaigns that actually resonate with audiences, because they’re already talking about them.

3. Find and celebrate your real fans.

You may have a million followers on your brand’s Facebook page—but this number is meaningless if your customers don’t feel connected to you. Connections build loyalty, and loyalty builds referrals and evangelism.

  • It’s 5x cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one. When it comes to building a social strategy, we can’t just focus on blasting our messaging out to prospects. We have to work on nurturing the audience we already have.
  • 4.7% of a brand’s fan base generates 100% of their social referrals, and the most engaged users make up around 1% of the customer base. It’s crucial to keep this audience in mind.
  • Think on the Loyalty Ladder. The Loyalty Ladder is a system that shows how users can change from passive customers to strong brand advocates. The ladder begins at satisfaction, and moves through retention,referrals, evangelism, and finally, ownership.

4. Stay cool, calm, and collected during a crisis.

The key to successful crisis management is pre-crisis planning. How you manage your brand on social and communicate with your audience during a brand crisis is crucial to brand reputation. Here are a few takeaways that can help build trust amongst your key audiences during these difficult times:

  • Communication in a crisis is crucial. If something comes up, it’s always important to acknowledge the issue and let users know that you are still investigating.
  • Understanding who your audience is will go a long way. In any crisis there are multiple audiences that you need to be communicating with internally and externally. “Crisis and mistakes are opportunities to show your audience who you really are by way of how you respond,” says David Wyatt, cofounder of Wyatt Brand and a speaker at this year’s conference.
  • Always plan ahead. Think of any potential issues that could happen and come up with potential responses to those situations. Always update your crisis management plan after an issue has been resolved.