Big Idea: Susan Frech, Social Media Link

Susan Frech, CEO, Social Media Link, advises brands to let consumer advocates lead social conversations.

As social media marketing continues to evolve, brands are coming to terms with its pay-to-play nature. Facebook has the spotlight today, but other social networks will follow suit.

What was once known as your brand community is now another advertising platform. If a brand wants to be heard, it needs to make a huge investment to ensure visibility. This has many marketers nervous as their brand communities are turning into brand pages, where they struggle to know who their fans are, let alone who is driving business results.

Social interaction
Studies show the main reason people join social networks is to interact with friends and family. However, during these social conversations, people talk about brands.

Those that leave an impact make us want to share stuff about them. Forty-nine percent of people say sharing online allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action, according to a study by The New York Times.

Furthermore, a typical mom mentions a brand 73 times per week, The Next Web states. Our friends listen, too, with more than 80% of consumers saying a post from a friend has directly influenced their purchase decision, according to HubSpot.

Mobilize advocates
Develop a home for advocates that will drive your business and use social as the fuel rather than your brand’s social networking page. New networks continue to surface and more resources are needed to manage and develop content. It is easier and more effective to get brand advocates to create content for you.

For many marketers, this means building a fully branded online community dedicated to their advocates, which offers brands the opportunity to activate communities, rather than talk about them. A brand can issue ambassador programs or sampling and get members to create content. Not only will the content be more trusted, it’s also more likely to be seen and acted upon.

Furthermore, brands can leverage their communities to garner insights and ideas. When brands have direct control over the data from their communities, they can develop customer segmentation and tailor messaging toward key groups.

Cultivating your own community for advocates outside of a social network also overcomes the limitations of a single social channel as marketers can prompt advocates to share across multiple networks.

As you look at your social media marketing strategies, ask whether your consumers are talking to you, or you are doing all the talking.

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