THURSDAY 22 SEP 2016 4:46 PM


International Event Social Media Week (SMW) held its latest conference in London from 12 - 16 September regarding the impacts of social media and technology on business, society and culture. SMW event ‘From Fans to Advocates: How to Build Community and Grow Brand Love’ discussed how brands can engage with audiences to turn fans into advocates. The talk was hosted by Olivier Adam, director of EMEA growth at Hootsuite, a social media relationship platform with over 10m users.

The talk focused on the importance of building up internal and external advocate networks that are mutually beneficial. Based on Hootsuite’s findings, shared content through advocates leads to a significantly higher number of views and click-throughs on social media than through a company’s networks alone. While the value of social media advocacy is on the rise, it seems unlikely it will replace traditional marketing in the foreseeable future. Adams advised businesses to identify their metrics and focus on their own KPIs rather than comparing them to the KPIs of other business. For Hootsuite, metrics include number of shares, user-generated content, number of advocates in local markets, engagement and participation.

According to a McKinsey study, word of mouth accounts for 20 to 50% of all sales, and 63% of today’s consumers search for help from other consumers via social media according to Lithium. Adams says this is because, “People buy from people, not companies.” Advocacy on social media plays a significant role in that it not only helps spread word of mouth, it also increases credibility. Given that 87% of millennials always keep their phone by their side, it has never been more accessible to communicate to a broader audience in real-time. Yet, outreach is an ongoing challenge for many brands today.

Internal advocacy involves recruiting employees from within, while external advocacy involves endorsements from fans, influencers, and ambassadors. Influencers help boost brand image in the short-term while ambassadors increase positive brand sentiment. Advocates, on the other hand, help increase brand content and tend to stick around for the long-term. The best time to ask someone to be an advocate is while they’re engaged with the product, not after. This assures up-to-date relevancy and ongoing conversation with all parties involved.


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