What is it that we’re trying to do here?
C’mon, all you social marketers, what is your ultimate goal? Put aside all the buzz and platform adoption and device/content prioritizing. What are your clients paying you to do?
Sell something. Period. Every single communication should ultimately persuade someone to take an action that generates revenue, now or later.
Assuming the answer to that is “yes,” the next question is How? What’s the best way to sell something? And with all respect to my hardworking colleagues, I think we’ve lost focus. The answer is pretty simple.
We’re talking about social media, right? Social media. If you go look it up right now you’ll see one synonym for social is “public.” For us, that means our clients’ publics. So social media = our target audience’s media platforms.
So if that’s where they live and socialize with their friends — whom they can influence far more effectively than we can — why wouldn’t we enlist their help in trying to sell something? Especially when using them can be far more cost efficient than our other marketing efforts.
Very few companies are using customer advocacy well, according to a new Ogilvy research study. It found that only 15 percent of all social brand mentions were positive; in one category less than one percent were positive.
Data like this baffles me. How can marketers — and their agencies — be ignoring this? I say “ignoring” because such data is readily available and more is available every day. When 90 percent of respondents say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews, the argument for creating customer advocacy seems bulletproof.
I could go on ad nauseum about myriad studies and white papers touting peer-powered purchases. But I think you can get the point without involving your gastrointestinal system. The opportunity is there for the taking simply by implementing a proven strategy. Proven being the operative word.
Am I suggesting the methodology of creating, nurturing, and utilizing customer advocates is simple? No. But case studies abound. Even best practices in this relatively nascent arena abound.
Even non-mainstream “marketers” have succeeded by creating immersive customer experiences that build strong peer-to-peer recommendations. Professional sports teams like the Philadelphia Flyers and M.L.S.’s Sporting Kansas City are model social marketers in their respective sports.
Rock band Pearl Jam’s 2011 social scavenger hunt that generated six million tweets for their documentary film. And Trent Reznor’s launch of Nine Inch Nail’s Year Zero album included leaked online messages, cryptograms on mysterious URLs, and “lost” thumb drives at concert venues; this alternate-reality experience literally created a global community of activists — and passionate loyalists — that represent a model of participation and audience amplification.
A favorite metric of mine, Net Promoter Score (NPS), can be an excellent place to start. By learning if your customers would recommend you — that’s the only question NPS addresses — you can develop a plan to build an advocate network that supplements (or surpasses) your other marketing activities.
So yes, I think it is simple: Give your customers an incentive to recommend your brand and you’ll make more money. Because that is what we’re trying to do here.
Robert Calvanico is Client Services Director for Living Group, a London-based integrated digital and branding agency. He leads the Living team's New York office. Robert has held management positions at agencies such as Euro RSCG, Cossette Post and Blue Fountain. He is a passionate sports fan and music lover, and lives in Tribeca, New York City.