There’s a big secret about social media marketing: a lot of big brands are getting it wrong. They’re spending a fortune on paid likes and followers but it’s not turning into measurable ROI. Social media is a people-to-people medium. Brand-to-people doesn’t work.
So say two social media marketing thought leaders: Piers Cooper, who heads Addvocate, a company that helps brands harness the trust of their own employees to act as brand advocates, and web copywriting aficionado and marketing strategist, Ryan Johnson. Writing in The Next Web, Cooper puts his argument in a nutshell:
“They jumped into the deep end of the social pool as brands, not as the people behind the brands. They poured huge sums of marketing budgets down the drain into a tumbleweed zone of branded social channels.”
The irony that both Cooper and Johnson point to is that the solution was standing right next to them all the time: real people, live human beings who could share content about their brand. Social media influencers work where ads fail because people tend to trust them. Human beings who have garnered the confidence of their followers tend to reach the parts that impersonal banner ads or branded content fail to get to: people’s hearts and minds, and their motivation to buy.
Both advocate harnessing the spontaneous power of not only consumer-influencers, but employees, too to act as brand advocates. As Johnson puts it in SocialMediaToday.com, brands have to build bridges between people on social media, and that means that every employee is effectively in customer service.
Employees can and do write about the businesses they work for. They talk. And, as Johnson argues, social media amplifies that talk. There are risks, of course: it just takes a single bad experience to generate a bad rap for a brand. But, he says:
“On the other hand, good experiences are regularly shared as well. Pay attention to who the influencers are in your brand’s circles – more than ever, those customers are in control of your brand’s fortunes.
“Finding your brand’s trusted influencers is nothing new, but it has taken on a new importance in the social era. You need to engage and celebrate your fans, rather than hiding behind an impersonal wall of advertising.”
Influencer marketing may just be the next big thing.