Social Media Advocacy: The Future of Marketing

There are tons of marketers in the world spending huge dollar figures on ineffective ads. The backstory of that and in simplest terms, some marketers don’t know what the hell they are doing. However, there are some that are taking a step in the right direction by switching to Influencer Marketing. Consumers have taken a major shift in the way they make purchasing decisions. No longer can you throw a pop-up ad in a consumer’s face, they are completely turned off. There are over 200 million ad blockers that agree with this notion.

Today, consumers make purchase decisions based on what others (friends, family or people they recognize) say about the product. Once marketers heard about this, they allocated huge dollar figures to have influencers post about their product. Unfortunately, the amount they are paying for these one-off campaigns with Influencers isn’t adding up. This will cause Marketers to switch to a new form of marketing – welcome to Social Media Advocacy. Hopefully, at the end of my discussion Marketers will know the key differences between social media advocacy and influencer marketing. This process will allow them to allocate resources more effectively during their next marketing campaigns and see true ROI in the long-run.

What is Social Media Advocacy?

Social media advocacy is when people endorse an organization or product through their social media and online networks.  Advocacy is often confused with social media influencing. What’s the difference? Influencers are usually people that have massive followings on social media, like famous bloggers or celebrities. They’re paid to promote a brand to their audience through their social media platforms, and the relationship with you is transaction-based (read: they do it for the money) and short-term. Once you stop paying them, they will stop influencing for you. That’s a tough break especially if a competitor comes behind your back and foot the bill. Yikes!

On the other hand, social media advocates are usually brand enthusiasts who engage with your product simply because they love it. They have an emotional connection with your brand, so you don’t have to pay an advocate to care. They also won’t hesitate to spread the word about your company to their family and friends. Since their enthusiasm is genuine, they engage in longer term activities, building stronger relationships with your target audiences.

Influencers and advocates are different animals, and this matters when you’re creating marketing and outreach strategies. Paying influencers a hefty chunk of your marketing budget may generate lots of temporary buzz for your brand, but this doesn’t translate into sales as often as you think. This is because awareness isn’t the same as action. You need to tap into what motivates customers to make that decision to buy before you spend thousands of dollars on influencer marketing.

More than Influencers

The key is to think beyond the hype, to look closer at what actually translates into results. Studies have shown advocates are 50% more likely to create content (blogs, social media posts etc.) that influence the decision to buy. In the world of marketing, the level of trust people have in your message makes a big difference. Advocates have an authenticity that resonates with your audience. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trusted advocates compared to 18% who trusted influencers.  

Not only are advocates authentic, they’ll stick with you over the years, returning to your brand again and again as it evolves. And they will create a community, not just a campaign, around your brand. An active community that shares with each other and gives you feedback on your products is something money can’t buy. Clearly, your resources are better spent nurturing your advocates.

Harness your advocates

It’s likely you already know who your social media advocates are. They’re the people that have been engaged with your organization for a significant period of time. Your employees, customers, community activists, and fans  – these are people that have an attachment to your philosophies and goals. Your advocates are going to have a deeper knowledge of your value, and together they make up a strong network for your messaging. This is a network that you should actively cultivate so it can keep growing. If you still aren’t sure who your advocates are, take the time to reach out to your existing networks to recruit support.

Once you’ve identified your advocates, you can plan some marketing campaigns around them. When you have product launches, company announcements or promotional activities, use your advocacy community to get the message out. This is a great way to reach out to your demographic directly instead of allocating lots of resources to ineffective ads.  

Sherrard Harrington

Sherrard is co-founder and CEO of Fanzee, Inc. He is a serial entrepreneur and influencer campaign expert.

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