This past week, an old agency colleague of mine contacted me asking for some help. She had a friend that was looking to use social marketing to activate people to vote for his company in a contest. “Randy” would always come to me for social strategy for her clients even if they were not specifically asking for it because she knew that the strategies I presented were extremely compelling and would win the clients over when positioned as simply a marketing strategy.
The first thing I asked Randy was if her friend had an existing social presence. She said he had a Facebook page, but was not active on it and did not have many followers yet. (Sound familiar?) So I told her that social media was not good at activating an audience if you really did not have an audience yet. You cannot ask people to do you a favor (and get winning results) if you have not built a relationship with them and continuously delivered them value. If you called up someone and asked them for a ride to the airport as a favor and really did not have an existing relationship with them, could you expect them to do so? So why do so many companies and brands expect favors (or marketing activations) without cultivating their target audience?
Social marketing needs to be a long-term strategic marketing initiative. You need to first work at building relationships with your target audience. When you have developed a strong relationship with your target market, you are in an excellent position to activate them, ask them a favor, and have them market your brand on their behalf.
For a number of years, I have suggested a social marketing approach called the Social Media A-Path. (See “How You Can Execute Social Media Successfully” and “Using the Social Media “A-path” to Capture Ultimate Customers” for starters … I have written many articles on this topic.”)
This approach highlights the importance of building strong relationships. As you build strong relationships with your target market, you are in a much better position to ask them to do something and activate them. Consider the logarithmic-like curve for getting your audience to take action based upon their psycho-demographic relationship phase with your brand.
If someone is merely aware of your brand, you have virtually no chance of activating them to do something on the brand’s behalf. Both “attention” and “attraction” are forms of awareness as shown in the graph above. If they have built affinity for your brand, you may be able to see some small traction, but the hope of activation is still limited because they are not part of your engaged audience. Once you have people that are actively engaged as part of your audience that continually come back to your social channels for valued or entertaining information, this is the crowd that is likely to start to act on your behalf. And needless to say, people that are already advocates for your brand have the highest likelihood of responding to a request from the brand.
When people ask the question “what is the ROI of social media marketing,” they are most often looking for an ROI that is based upon a specific social program or promotion. This is flawed as highlighted in this “social activation” scenario I have presented. Social marketing is about a long-term relationship that delivers brand activations over the span of long-term brand commitment. There are many times when brands need their target market to activate word of mouth marketing. But this influential marketing is only effective over the long course of social commitment from the brand.
Put in the commitment and effort now. Look to activate your target audience later. Expect the pay off down the road.
Make It Happen,