Three Ways To Create An Advocacy Program

In my new Forrester report, Three Ways To Find, Create, And Energize Advocates, we share data and examples of successful advocacy programs. We also recommend an approach to define and reach the best candidates for your advocacy program. 

Not all advocates are created equal—someone who “likes” your brand or follows you on Twitter is not an advocate (yet).  This is an important fact to realize before you plan and launch an advocacy program.  Building a program can be costly, so you need to invest wisely in advocates who can create the biggest bang for the buck.  While it’s nice to have anyone advocating on your behalf, you need to get the Mass Influencers doing so.

As introduced in the Forrester Peer Influence Pyramid, Mass Influencers are the minority of those in social media who create the majority of the influence posts and impressions about products and services.  These are the people who combine influence, trust, relevance and scale to create powerful advocacy. 

Three ways to create advocacy programs - Promote, Find or Attract

There are three ways to create mass-influencing advocates: 

  • Promote them:  Take people who have little influence on their own and make them Mass Influencers through involvement in your program.  The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is a successful example of this approach. 
     
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Changes In How Europeans Contribute Social Content Will Force Marketers To Update Their Social Media Strategies

 If you’ve ever talked to Forrester about social media, chances are you’ve heard of the Social Technographics® Ladder -- our tool for measuring how people use social technologies and for helping marketers (and product strategists and market researchers and others) understand how to engage with those people in the social Web.

Today we’ve released our new 2010 Social Technographics data worldwide (you can see the US data here), and you’ll notice that this year, for the first time since we introduced the ladder, we’ve added a new category of social engagement. The new category -- “Conversationalists” -- is designed to capture the short, rapid conversations that are now taking place on Twitter and through Facebook status updates. How many people are engaged in these behaviors? Almost one-third of European online adults participate in these rapid public conversations every week. In just over two years, this activity has come from nowhere to become one of the most popular social behaviors we track.

And this Conversationalist activity has come along at just the right time, too -- because more “traditional” forms of online contribution have levelled off. The percentage of online Europeans who post their own blogs, videos, photos, or other media -- what we call “Creators” -- hasn’t grown in either of the past two years. And the percentage who participate in message boards and forums or who post comments on blogs or other social sites -- what we call “Critics” -- has grown just one percentage point in Europe each of the past two years.

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Why Aren't Facebook Ads More Transparent?

For a company that thrives on transparency, Facebook's advertising isn't very transparent.  Check out your Facebook home page, note the ads on the right side, and tell me what companies they're for.  Sure, the ads probably cite brand or company names in the headlines and images, but who are the companies who paid for those ads? Where will you end up if you click those ads? And an ever better question is, what will happen if you "Like" the ad--will you be giving information to a trusted brand or a spammer?

Now go to Google, conduct a search, and check out the AdWords on the right side. Who sponsors those ads? And where will you end up if you click on those ads?

Google advertising is transparent, and Facebook advertising is not. The difference is a single line of text: AdWords creates transparency by including a "Display URL."  Within ad AdWords, advertisers can set different Destination and Display URLs, but the two must be within the same domain so that (in the word of Google's AdWords form), "users know what to expect when they click your ad."  (The reason there is a difference between the Destination and Display URLs is so that advertisers can direct people to a specific page in their domain while displaying the much shorter root domain in the ad ). 

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Seeking Input On Social Media Management Platforms

I’m beginning to prep for a future report on a new breed of tools designed to help companies manage complex social media accounts, relationships, communications and internal roles.  If you have some experience, know some tools or just have some questions you’d like answered, please weigh in!

In the old days (of 2009) many brands had just one Twitter account and one Facebook account maintained by one (or a small set) of people, so the brand’s social media presence was relatively easy to maintain.   Today, the challenge is much greater—some brands have dozens of accounts in multiple languages focused on geographies ranging from the entire globe to individual countries and cities.  At the same time, demand has increased with a greater need to listen and respond to the growing audience in social media, and to handle that inflow, marketers are involving more and more employees.

We’re seeing the rapid development and adoption of a new breed of tools—call them Social Media Management Platforms—which include solutions from Buddy Media, Vitrue, Awareness, ExactTarget, StrongMail, Involver, Hootsuite, Context Optional, RightNow, Expion and others.

None of all of these tools offer the same set of features, and we'll see a great deal of change in the next couple of years as consumer demands, enterprise needs and social networks change.  For now, effective social media management requires a combination of:

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How Does Your Company Manage Social Media Across Multiple Countries?

Working in Europe, I'm constantly hearing about social media programs designed for one country accidentally reaching users in other countries -- especially when they're done in English. Toyota's excellent social media-focused iQ car launch in the UK attracted attention from the US, where the car isn't available. Yesterday a client told me that their Australian marketing team launched a Facebook page that they thought was just for their market -- but when they looked at the analytics, they found that only about 5% of the page's fans were Australian, with the rest coming from other big English-speaking markets.

 

As I see it, there are two big challenges when global companies use social media:

  1. How do you best leverage social media resources from one country (be they staff, technologies, partnerships, or content) across other countries to improve your efficiency and effectiveness?
  2. How do you keep social media messages that are appropriate for just one market (because product availability, or specifications, or pricing, or marketing message can vary from place to place) from "bleeding out" to reach users in other markets?
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Google Vs. Facebook And How Marketers Win (Or Lose) In 2011

Google has said nothing about its rumored social networking offering, but it may be that the company has just revealed its secret weapon to take on Facebook.  The new Priority Inbox feature in Gmail hints at social media’s next great battleground: Relevance!

Facebook itself inadvertently demonstrated the value of relevance and what is most wrong with the current Facebook user experience.  The Facebook Places announcement event two weeks ago was the geeky event you’d expect, but there was an unexpected moment of clarity and beauty in the midst of the typical discussion of APIs, partners and functionality.  Facebook VP Chris Cox told a story set in the future that defines the true promise that social networking has yet to fulfill:

“In 20 years our children will go to Ocean Beach and their phone will tell them this is the place their parents had their first kiss, and here’s the picture they took afterward, and here’s what their friends had to say.”

It’s a great story, isn’t it?  But today’s Facebook experience offers no chance this experience could actually occur.  Instead, here’s what would happen based on the current Facebook functionality:  Those kids will visit that beach and their parents’ precious story will be nowhere to be found on the Ocean Beach Places page.  That wonderful 20-year-old status update and picture will be buried under 500 pages of less meaningful messages such as “Don’t buy a hot dog from the snack bar,” “Here’s a picture of some hot babes I took here,” and “Beach kegger party this Saturday night, dudes!” 

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