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Sharing social media secrets – partner, customer and channel advocacy

social media advocacy

In a recent social media advocacy webinar, industry leaders from Microsoft, Avalara and Xerox, as well as social media experts Ian Moyse and Zoe Sands, delivered some rather fascinating insights. I would like to share just some of these with you.

It’s all about people… many people!

Although the brand itself is important, it’s the people within it that do the business. Zoe Sands, Principal Consultant, Zoe Sands & Co. Ltd states, ‘A good starting point is centering social media around people.’ The nature of your business will determine who this includes. These are the type of advocates you can take advantage of:

Partner advocacy

Microsoft realised the benefit of promoting their brand through their channel partners’ social media accounts. However from a survey they conducted with channel partners, they discovered that even though their partners recognised the importance of social media, they lacked the time or resource to perform this effectively. To overcome this Microsoft is now using socialondemand to facilitate the sharing of Microsoft’s content to their channel partners’ social media accounts.

Alex Beere, Consultant Social Media Manager, SMB and Partner, for Microsoft, stated, ‘Since using it, we have noticed a number of benefits from both a Microsoft and a partner perspective. Partners have become more socially digitally enabled, they’ve experienced growth in their social channels, and many partners have seen direct leads from the program.’

Employee advocacy

Your employees, especially your sales staff, are likely to be the individuals representing your brand.

As Will Frei, Social Media Manager at Avalara suggested, ‘An education piece for them to understand how social can benefit them is essential to get them on board with the program.’

Avalara, however, is performing the next generation of advocacy and enabling their employees to suggest content for Avalara to share, named ‘360 degree advocacy’. Will says, ‘This gives employees a sense of ownership, has also improved morale and employee culture as well as increasing the number of employees promoting us.’

Influencer Advocacy

Alex from Microsoft states, ‘Influencer advocacy should not be about just sending partners technology for them to write about it, it should be more about nurturing and integrating these relationships in a natural way for the long term.’

On social media it is clear to see who has paid to be influenced and who has a genuine preferred relationship with the brand. Ensure you get this right or it will not be a worthwhile expense for your brand.

Supporting advocates is necessary

You need to make your advocacy program feel human, supporting users with the right policy, and the right parameters. This is fundamental in order to get as many advocates on board as possible.

Alex suggests, ‘It’s not something you launch and walk away from. Make it as easy as possible for your advocates to be able to skill up and maintain a good level of usage.’

This could include conducting a robust training program that works for all capability levels. Certifications may be an option for more advanced advocates seeking gratification for their efforts, whereas less advanced advocates may favour a webinar, face to face, how to guides or video training to get them on board. Training advocates to create blogs for you could also be highly beneficial in enabling you to produce a range of content, however leave this to your advanced advocates.

Incentivising advocates to share your content

The big question is, should brands incentivise advocates to share their content?

Andy Hill, Social Media Marketing Manager, for Xerox, states that they do not normally need to provide incentives. ‘For partners they are already looking at each other’s social media accounts, so we do not need to incentivise them, they are already competing against one another every single day.’

Microsoft however does sometimes see the value in incentivising, for example to encourage some content to be pushed over others, prizes may be awarded. Microsoft has also implemented a digital leader board for employees to see who is receiving the most engagement on social media. So the incentive is to try and get to the top.

As Ian leading Cloud Influencer on Social Media says, ‘Engagement and validation can be the reward, for example, by mentioning them on Twitter and sharing their content.’ It’s about understanding your advocates and finding out what works best for them.

I think you’ll agree that there is a lot to learn from this webinar. So much in fact that I couldn’t possibly write it all down. To hear a more detailed version, please click here to watch the recording. But for now I only hope this has reiterated the importance of utilising your advocates effectively. These experts do, so maybe it’s about time you did too.

By Olivier Choron
CEO and Founder of purechannelapps

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