“A Facebook Like or a Twitter follower has no value to a brand until they are activated.” – Zuberance CEO, Rob Fuggetta

This quote was made during a recent panel discussion put on by Zuberance and Big Fuel. The panel was titled “How to Turn Word of Mouth Marketing into Sales,” and focused on utilizing a brand’s advocates as their best marketing tool.

Turning a customer into an advocate doesn’t always happen automatically, and as marketers, it is not our job to produce the great product or create the great service. Instead, what we are charged with, especially in the age of social media, is utilizing tools and platforms such as Facebook or Twitter to encourage this activity and help our client’s bottom lines.

So how do we encourage this behavior and turn more consumers into advocates?

  • Utilizing a platform to create a shared experience

    This speaks to giving relevance to a conversation between consumers. By allowing them to have a shared experience, you give them something to talk about and connect with that they are passionate about. A great example of this concept was the JetBlue “All You Can Jet” program.
    This platform allowed customers to purchase a ticket for a one-time fee and use it to fly as many times as they wanted on any of the Jet Blue routes during this period. The program utilized Facebook as a place where consumers who had participated in the promotion could congregate and share their adventures with each other, or propose the way they would use the ticket once they purchased it.
    This sense of community developed to the point that the members launched their own event that was attended by over 200 people in Las Vegas. Jet Blue did not set this up, but instead the consumers themselves organized and hosted the event on their own.
  • Create content of value

    This means that in social you can’t use the platforms as a sales channel only. In fact, one of the panelists even went as far as to say in his mind that a brand has to earn the right to talk about their product.

    Instead, your content should be something that provides value to the consumer. Huggies traditional media focuses on the product’s value proposition, i.e. best absorption, most comfortable, etc., but in the social space their content is centered around being a resource to help moms with potty training. They focus on helping to solve this problem and develop a relationship with the consumer by being a resource on this issue.

  • Don’t pay, but thank

    Social Media is all about transparency, and if you are given a recommendation by someone but later find out it was bought you, feel shilled, and it harms the reputation of the person making the recommendation. However, it is important to thank a consumer once they do advocate on your behalf. This shows other consumers that you appreciate the action taken and they might be more willing to engage in that action themselves.

  • Allow the advocate to feel invested

    To further the concept of thanking the advocate, you also have to make sure that they feel their feedback is important as well. By opening up the lines of communication through the social channels, you allow the consumer a feeling of importance, and if you take that even further and utilize that information, you provide them ownership. If you feel like you own something, you most likely will want to share it.

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p class=”MsoNormal”>Building up a large number of likes or increasing your followers is a great accomplishment in the eyes of most brands, but being able to turn that community into an energized group of advocates is where the real value lies.

For more insights from the panel check out #NYBAS on Twitter.

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