Influencer marketing is all the rage, but in too many instances, brands get this wrong. A big follower base on a particular channel, or a certain amount of website traffic does not a successful influencer make. Influence, by its definition, means the ability to get people to do something. Vanity metrics like friend/follower counts, “likes,” or even traffic data doesn’t cut it when it comes to evaluating success—when it comes to social media in general, and when it comes to influencers in particular. In fact, “influencers” might not be the people you want to target at all. Instead, it might be social promoters that can deliver the value brands and agencies seek.
Why Social Promoters?
Social promoters differ from influencers in that they are real, and they are rare. I love this topic, and it’s no surprise that I also liked Social@Ogilvy’s recent Identifying Social Media’s Global Brand Promoters report. The team at Ogilvy surveyed more than 5,500 social media users across 11 countries to find out more about their sharing habits. The aim of the study was to look beyond just social media numbers to learn more about authentic brand promoters; the advocates who go beyond passive sharing and instead engage in active recommendation of brands to other people.
The results revealed some trends that should make marketers sit up and take note.
- Eighty-four percent of social media users worldwide said that they liked or followed a brand on social media, however;
- Just 58 percent said that they shared brand experiences, good and bad, with their network and—even more revealingly;
- Just two in every 10 (19 percent) identified themselves as social promoters, those who were extremely likely to go on to recommend products to friends.
As this graphic from Ogilvy illustrates, these promoters—and more importantly their networks—are much more motivated than simple sharers to identify with brands and talk about them more, and to act on a recommendation from a friend.
Profile of a Promoter
The study identified some key characteristics of the typical social promoter.
- They are likely to be most active on Facebook, with 83 percent saying they check their profile at least once a day.
- They are more likely than the average sharer to interact directly with a brand.
- While six in 10 said they had posted online about a bad experience, this was lower than the seven in 10 of sharers that had done the same thing.
- They are more likely to be female (54 percent) than male, and between the ages of 30 and 44.
Two-thirds of promoters said they follow brands on a regular basis as compared to just over half of sharers (52 percent). Meanwhile fifty percent of the self-identified promoters indicated that they follow brands to interact directly with them, but only 42 percent of sharers said the same. This graphic from eMarketer illustrates the main differences in motivation to follow brands between promoters and sharers.
So while there are clearly many similarities between the two groups, promoters exhibit behaviors that make them stand out from the more passive crowd. Promoters not only like to hear about the brands they value, they like to be associated with them, to interact with them, and to demonstrate their values to others by that connection. I think that’s an important distinction, because for social promoters, it’s all about the experience. They want to be a part of the brand story, and the brand experience. It makes them feel valued, it makes them feel more connected to a brand, and it compels them to want to be a brand advocate. As a result, they can add significant value. Those qualities make them a more rare commodity than just any “influencer” with a large follower base and, as a result, potentially an infinitely more valuable connection for the brand.
Promoters Also More Receptive to Positive Peer Recommendations
Promoters, it appears, not only act as influencers, they are also more receptive to recommendations from their own social network. They trust their networks, and are open to checking out things that their friends like. Here is some data on that front:
- More than two-thirds (69 percent) go directly to a brand’s website following a recommendation.
- Almost the same proportion (66 percent) go on to do more research on the brand.
- Forty-four percent go on to connect with the brand on social media.
- And more than a third of promoters (35 percent) said they made a purchase following a recommendation from a friend.
Convinced yet that investing your efforts in identifying and nurturing social promoters might be well worth your time?
Promoting the Promoters
This report serves to reinforce a lot of what we already know about effective social media marketing, but yet which so many brands and agencies continue to fail at. Big numbers are great, but big numbers that don’t deliver any real value (or say, leads) aren’t worth anything. Marketers’ efforts need to be focused on smart targeting, and attracting —and engaging with—the right audience at the right time, in the right places. Once you’ve done that, and worked to build a relationship with those social promoters, crafting the right messaging and campaigns that inspire them to want to share the brand message, but which also deliver business metrics that matter (loyalty, sales, leads, or some kind of action), is what can result in real, measurable business value.
This isn’t some epiphany or anything that should come as a surprise to anyone paying attention to, and working to develop, effective influencer programs. Content that doesn’t reach the right audience and/or which misses the mark, a collection of “likes,” retweets, or “favorites” and a large audience largely comprised of non-targeted prospects, delivers exactly zero value. Brands and marketers need to move beyond the so-called “influencers” and their fanboy and fangirl audiences, and look instead for social promoters who can, and who will, do what it takes to move the needle and deliver real value.
What do you think? Have you had influencer campaigns fail because you didn’t target the right influencers? Did you learn how to do things differently as a result? Have you experienced the difference between social promoters and influencers and has that added more value to your partnership efforts? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this topic.
You can find out more detail about the Ogilvy report with this Slideshare presentation.
Other Resources on this Topic:
Social Media Marketing: You Get What You Pay For
The Difference Between Social Media ‘Sharers’ and ‘Brand Promoters’ and Why it Matters
5 Social Networks That Business Promoters Can’t Afford to Ignore
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