In the current age of information, statistics reign supreme. Organisations rely heavily on data metrics for almost all business processes, from product development to marketing – and everything between. But what if the social media data that you analyse is the wrong kind of data? How would that impact your present business operations and your plans for the future?
What are social media metrics?
Metrics are quantity-based measurable data sets that can be used to provide information on a range of business activities. However, not all data metric types are created equal. Some figures are accurate and indicative while others, although they may be correct, provide irrelevant and/or misleading information. Based on the type of info provided, these data sets fall into two broad categories, namely: Vanity Metrics and Engagement Metrics.
Metrics: Vanity vs. Engagement
Vanity metrics: Vanity metrics are statistics that provide general information, and are usually too broad or vague to have tangible business impact. Figures such as page likes and average user time are examples of vanity metrics. While on the surface theses stats may seem impressive, they don’t actually tell you much about your active client base. For instance, “average time spent” includes the time that your page may be left open for hours by users that have no intention to purchase. But, the bad news doesn’t stop there. As vanity-based records are easily manipulated, the figures you see may be fabricated altogether. This is done by unethical methods such as buying bulk followers. Such followers are not actual people, but rather fake or automated accounts. Unfortunately, the rude awakening for businesses is only likely to arrive when it’s too late.
Engagement Metrics: Engagement metrics are relevant and factual statistics that provide valuable insight into your market. While these numbers are much more conservative that vanity data, engagement metrics are reliable and functional when it comes to practical application within the business environment. It is not only to the type of data, but also the level of detail that engagement metrics offer, that promotes knowledge-based decision making.
Engagement metric sets reflect how real people interact with your brand. Reports can be customised to show only relevant audience sectors in terms of your business’s geographic areas of operation and defined customer criteria. This helps to provide a more realistic indication of your actual consumer market. Furthermore, analysing your engaging audience demographic may reveal additional untapped audience segments to target for expansion. You can can review the success rate of different marketing approaches to maximise the efficiency of future activities. In addition, you can gain access to competitor social media information as well.
Engagement Metrics & Business Strategy
When it comes to business strategy, it is clear that the data type used has a serious impact on the success or failure of a venture. Make certain that the reports provided by your social media team reflect engagement metrics customised for your organisation’s specific requirements. Such statistics need to be critically assessed and interpreted by decision makers. Social media activities should be aligned with your business objectives, and marketing campaigns reviewed to determine return on investment. The analytic tools offered by social media are incredibly valuable, but only if they are used correctly. Tap into the wealth of information offered and reap the rewards that follow.
CLICK HERE to set up a meeting with Social Media 101
Social Media Employee Amplification is one of the three main categories of social media advocacy marketing. The other two categories are influencer marketing and customer endorsement. Influencer marketing relates to promotion by traditional brand ambassadors like celebrities or affluent personalities. More recently, social media accounts with a large follower base have been added as influential entities. Customer endorsement refers to positive public commentary by clients and is considered word-of-mouth marketing.
This article focuses on the third and most intriguing form of advocacy, namely employee amplification. We will explain what this concept means, what the benefits to using it are, and highlight key considerations for implementation.
What is Social Media Employee Amplification?
In short, this approach centres on harnessing the power of your staff as brand ambassadors for your organisation. The process itself involves tapping into the value offered by employees through social media activities. This is done by encouraging staff members to publish or share brand messaging on their personal social media pages. The concept of employee amplification certainly adds a whole new dimension to the term “human resources”…..
“76% of survey participants said they were more likely to trust content shared
by their network (people they know) versus content shared by brands.” (Adweek)
Who should use employee amplification?
Theoretically, any brand could use this technique, regardless of organisation size or business industry. But success of employee amplification hinges on how your staff feel about the brand. Are they passionate about it? Are they proud to be associated with it? Do they believe in the service or product offering? The more loyal an employee is, the more authentic their endorsement will be. No staff member should be forced to publicly support their employer via their personal platforms if they are not keen to do so. Unhappy or unwilling individuals are likely to cause more harm than good.
“79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after
implementing a formal employee advocacy program.
65% reported increased brand recognition.” (Hinge Marketing)
Benefits of Employee Amplification
Reach & Exposure: Earlier is year, Facebook made a change to its algorithm that had a major impact for business pages on the platform (click here to read more). The change meant that users see more posts from their friends rather than business pages, drastically reducing organic reach by brands. Employee amplification means that you can counter-act this change as content shared by staff will not have the same restrictions as posts shared by your business page.
Using business networking platform LinkedIn as part of an Employee Amplification strategy is also a great way to gain exposure via employees’ professional networks. The platform has a viral quality to their algorithms in that every post that a user likes, comments or shares is directed to their contacts timeline. Content shared by users has a generally much wider reaching when compared to a business’s own page.
Organic reach: As mentioned above, posts shared by employees will have organic (free) reach. Such exposure would result in better social media figures that are unlikely to be achieved via any other unpaid method. It is therefore a financially beneficial technique.
Credibility & Engagement: Content shared by a staff member is largely seen by people that know the person thus adding a level of credibility to the message. Posts by network contacts will also have a higher engagement percentage (views, likes, shares, comments) than those sent directly from the brand’s account.
Business & Marketing: Other tangible benefits include increased sales, improved brand awareness and affinity, and a higher level of consumer trust in the brand. Not only do these elements positively impact bottom line objectives, but also support other company activities like recruitment due to favourable positioning.
“Company branded messages reach 561% further when
shared by employees versus branded.” (www.postbeyond.com)
Ways to promote staff support & activity success
Position relevant/key employees as thought leaders and trusted advisors. This not only impacts the brand positively, but also helps elevate employees’ personal brands. For certain companies, this could also lead to more business. For example, a high-level or high-involvement sale often relies heavily on the relationship between sales consultant and potential client. As most people research new acquaintances online, the more impressive; credible and trusted the brand’s employees look, the higher the possibility of closing the deal.
Include value-rich content for users: Centre messaging should on interesting or useful content such as articles or tips. If you need to send out direct marketing posts, incorporate some sort of value for the recipient, such as a great offer or valuable resource.
Craft posts in a way that makes staff want to share it with their audience. Again, valuable and interesting content is key. This includes posts shared directly from the brand’s page, as well as employee-generated content. Visually appealing, good quality content is imperative to encourage staff advocacy.
Make the process as simple as possible. This means providing them with suitable high-quality, correctly sized images. Written content for posts can be provided as well should certain employees prefer a less time-consuming option.
“33% of employees agreed that relevant content would
encourage them to share.” (postbeyond.com)
Employee Amplification Strategy & Risk Mitigation Tips
Start by getting staff trained on social media fundamentals. Training will provide them with a basic knowledge of social media etiquette (such as do’s and don’ts), as well as best practices per platform. This upskills and empowers staff. It also ensures a level of quality when it comes to social media activities. These skills will benefit them in both in their personal and professional capacities.
Have a social media policy in place to mitigate potential risk. This is an imperative requirement that needs to be in place before employee amplification activities start. It provides staff with rules to abide by and sets out company recourse if they fail to do so (including possible legal action). It is best to consult a legal expert knowledgeable on the social media legal landscape for advice.
Implement an internal social media procedure. Structure a plan that includes an approval process so that all content is screened prior to publishing. Each participating employee’s personal accounts should also be screened before they share any company posts. This will prevent the brand from unintentionally associating themselves with undesirable viewpoints that the employee may have on their page (such as prejudicial or controversial content).
Offer employee incentives. While you may be fortunate enough to have staff that are happy to share brand messaging out of sheer loyalty, use incentives as effective motivators. Whether you measure trackable data (e.g. clicks to website) or engagement statistics (such as comments, shares and likes), the choice is yours. You can also have specific rewards for a certain outcome, such as lead generation or recruitment referrals. You are likely to find quite quickly that the value gained from leveraging off staff resources far outweigh the incentive expense.
“31% of high-growth firms have a formalized employee
advocacy program.” (Hinge Marketing)
Social Media Employee Amplification is an under-utilized method that could open up vast opportunities for your organisation. However, it is a technique that requires planning, research and infrastructure before implementation. Statistics clearly reflect that the effort and resources required are a viable investment with attractive returns. In this context, being a statistic is a good thing – so get started now!
Need assistance with employee amplification? We can help with:
- Social media training workshops (employee amplification, personal branding, social media etiquette, how to understand and analyse data)
- Structuring customised social media policy and procedure documents
- Screening employee social media platforms
- Complete content and platform management
- Influencer marketing
…..and much more.
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
The economic climate is tough to navigate in general, but when it comes to businesses with a niche market base, there are even more challenges to face.
One major issue is marketing. Most traditional methods are based on advertising to mass audiences, which does not suit brands that service a niche client base only. Such specialist companies have largely come to accept that these kinds of difficulties come with the territory….….
….… but what if there was a solution that could be fully customised to suit each organisation’s unique requirements and objectives? One that is both cost-effective and result-driven?
If this sounds good to you, keep reading – it gets even better…
Challenges Faced by Niche Brands
Organisations that service a very small consumer market are known as “niche” brands. Their small market size could be as a result of a limited consumer demand for their business offering, for instance. A company that offers a highly specialised product or service is an example of such a niche brand. Most business-to-business (B2B) based organisations, as well, fall into this category.
While marketing is important for all businesses, the small consumer bases that these companies service makes it even more crucial to connect to right audiences. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, most advertising methods focus on mass communication to a generalised audience. As only a small percentage of message recipients are relevant to a niche company, the result is excessive wastage of investment and low returns.
Other more targeted options are print ads in industry-specific publications or exhibition stands at trade shows. However, these techniques are expensive and yield poor results. Not to mention they grow increasingly outdated as market trends progress.
The bottom line is that traditional marketing methods have never been effective when it comes to niche audiences. But as market minorities, specialist brands have not had much choice but to use the options available, as unsuitable as they were. Until now…… (I told you this was going to be good)
Social Media as a Marketing Solution for Niche Brands
At this point, you may be thinking, “why the big build-up – everyone knows about social media”. BUT, do you, as a niche brand, fully understand what this type of media offers you?
Let us explain why we are so excited about the capabilities of social media when it comes to niche brands. Arguable, niche brands have the most to gain by transitioning from solely traditional media to social media marketing. This is because such brands experience the most wastage when using mass promotional methods (versus more mainstream brands). The highly customisable nature of social media allows you to substantially reduce wastage, and therefore increase return on investment. But it’s not just a financially beneficial option – it opens up a wealth of information, insight and audience tools that promote overall business growth.
Key social media benefits for Niche Brands
Below, we have listed a few of the core characteristics of social media that make it the ideal solution for niche and B2B brands. We also provide practical examples of how each of these factors can be used for tangible business benefit:
Fully customisable and agile:
Social media offers highly customisable options – meaning that niche companies are able to tailor functions to suit their needs. This relates to a range of factors, including: targeting different audience segments, options regarding spend per message, control over campaign duration and growing a client base.
Targeting on social media supports detailed, multi-level criteria that can be used to streamline audiences. For example, you can specify geographic regions, then restrict to an age group within these areas and further target based on specific interest (such as a sport or activity). The result is a high quality, custom target group.
If you have different audiences within your market, you are able to customised messaging to suit each group. Let’s say your business sells to both end-user customers as well as other businesses. You can advertise a product to B2B clients with technical info and specs, and then promote the same product to consumers with details of where they can purchase.
With a niche market, customer engagement is even more important. These client bases are minority groups sharing something in common, and therefore they relate to each other more in comparison to mass market bases. Common ground could be due to shared interests, knowledge, experience or business activity. Social media allows you to connect with relevant people and tap into their expertise and experience to improve your business. It also gives fans a way to connect to people they relate to, providing an enhanced customer experience.
Billed for actual exposure:
Paid advertising on platforms like Facebook is based on actual message exposure (as opposed to traditional media platforms that cannot provide data in terms of views). This means you only pay for content that appears on a user’s news feed. In addition to the financial benefits, this provides a realistic indication of your online market size based on audience response.
High-involvement: expensive or technical
Some sales are considered high-involvement purchases. This could be due to their pricing or complicated application. Social media campaigns provide a way to market these. For instance, educating the audience on functions and benefits first, and thereafter driving sales. Again, this is a great approach for B2B or technical products. Social media platforms are also a viable and practical way to generate leads for your technical sales team.
Social media is an inexpensive, effective method that provides high returns and measurable results. In a niche market, a well planned and executed platform could give you a competitive edge based on customer loyalty, as well as allow you to tap into new markets. It is definitely a winning option for B2B and niche-based brands.
For more information on how to make social media work for your niche business,
CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101
How agile is your marketing strategy?
Hmmm, putting you on the spot with this one, are we?
If this is a question you have never asked yourself before, you are not alone. The term “agility” is not generally at the top of the agenda when marketing teams sit down to meet. But we are here to explain why your marketing plan should, in fact, be agile. We will also provide you with information on how to incorporate agility into your existing brand strategy, as well as highlight key benefits of doing so.
Why do marketing strategies need to be agile?
When we talk about agility, we are referring to the adaptability and responsiveness of your marketing activities, content and execution infrastructure. Historically, agility was not a significant factor as marketing was predominantly done using traditional media and methods. This typically entailed one-way communication sent from brand to audience, and content was generally passively consumed.
However, in the current business landscape, being agile is of paramount importance. Consumer use of digital methods – social media in particular – is ever increasing. This means that customer commentary (both positive and negative) is mass and even globally communicated in an instant.
But what does this have to do with your brand?
Well, if you do not have the ability to react or respond at the same speed and with the same level of reach as the general public, you are at a serious disadvantage. Whether in reply to customer demands, taking advantage of a market opportunity, or damage control in terms of negative publicity, agility is required. In fact, in serious cases, being agile could even mean averting potential legal action.
Ok so now that we have emphasised the importance of agility, how do you get your marketing activities to meet these criteria?
The key is to use the very same platform that consumers do – namely social media. And doing so does not mean you have to throw out your current marketing plan. While social media can be used as your sole marketing medium, you can also incorporate it into your existing strategy as part of an integrated solution.
Social Media as an Agile Solution
While plans and objectives differ from business to business, certain key aspects should underpin all agile strategies. Including these factors not only improves marketing activities, but positively impacts the brand as a whole.
Below is a list of a few core features that are characteristic of an agile approach. We explain the importance of each element and demonstrate how social media is ideally suited to support it:
A fundamental factor of agility is the ability to adapt. The need to adapt could arise due to changing organisational, consumer or industry requirements. Such changes may range from relatively small adjustments (like correcting a minor error), to major amendments – such as alternate messaging due to a serious matter (e.g. due to public concern or negative feedback).
Social media marketing, by nature, is highly adaptable. Strategies, while planned and structured, are not set in stone. Instead, messaging is flexible and can be adapted to suit changing needs as they arise. As content is digital-based, changes can be done at little or no cost. This is in contrast with traditional alternatives such as printed promotional material, which incur high costs and wastage if content needs to be adjusted.
The level of control offered by social media is not just limited to content, targeting can also be adjusted. For example, when it comes to Facebook, you are able to change the audience target criteria while a campaign is ongoing. This allows you to speak to different demographics and monitor the results.
Brands need to be responsive to consumers at all times. Although general queries form part of customer service, marketing activities also need to be client-centric. This means developing content in response to preferences and needs as communicated by clients.
The interactive nature of social media supports this function excellently. Client engagement behaviour such as comments, shares and likes indicate how the audience receives each post. By using this insight, the marketing team is able to post more of what the audience wants, thus increasing customer satisfaction. Also, poor engagement rates or negative feedback on certain posts indicate that such content should not be repeated, or there needs to be an alternate approach by marketers.
In the unfortunate and undesirable situation of public backlash or outcry as a result of brand communication, the brand needs to respond quickly and in a manner that diffuses the situation (as opposed to leading to further criticism). It is important to craft the correct response before publishing it – if needed, legal or public relations experts should be consulted.
Rapid Turn-Around Time
Responsiveness and adaptability are only efficient if done with relatively speed. In order to be agile, marketing activities need to have a quick turn-around time.
In comparison to other marketing methods, social media has one of the fastest turn-around times. You can eliminate certain components such as third-party printing companies, or publisher/broadcaster timelines. Posting a message, removing a post or amending an existing one can be done quite quickly when the need arises. As mentioned above, in the case of a sensitive issue or public matter, do not compromise quality for speed of response – always ensure that the best possible response is delivered.
A rapid turn-around time is also especially valuable when it comes to maximising market opportunities. For example, let’s say an area is hit by a sudden hailstorm. A vehicle bodyshop/panelbeater could send out a post that targets people from that area – possibly offering a booking special. This is an example of using agility to make the most of an opportunity through social media.
Agile marketing techniques prioritise factual data as opposed to estimations and assumptions. Most traditional marketing options do not provide accurate statistical information, nor do they support cost-effective market testing.
Social media platforms, on the other hand, offer a wealth of accurate data metrics. This includes not only information on market and consumer behaviour, but also the results of each marketing activity. You are able to run A/B testing via the platform in order to improve future results. Effective use of measurement and reporting tools means that you are able to constantly improve the success rates of marketing activities. Thus not only do you get a higher return on marketing investment, but you also use your marketing budget efficiently.
Goals of agile marketing strategies include a high level of responsiveness in terms of both rate and speed, being adaptable to changing internal or external needs, having a rapid turn-around time and achieving higher success rates when it comes to marketing activities. The technique of crafting content based on audience response is likely to improve customer sentiment, promote brand loyalty and even lead to word-of-mouth marketing.
Social media platforms have the capability to support all these requirements and much, much more. Be proactive and incorporate agility into your brand’s marketing plan – preparation and planning are key to successfully navigating through what may lie in the future.
For more on developing an agile marketing strategy, CLICK HERE to contact Social Media 101.
We will help you prepare for market and industry hurdles.