Social media doesn’t scale, but you must need to have a strategy to scale your online community and to manage your millions of customers that are now using social channels to communicate.
Often time, we use metric to map out the strategy, but actually there no single metric is a good indicator, you have to evaluate the usage from multiple dimensions, you also have to factor in what are users doing, time on site, interaction, and of course, did they end up buying, recommending products, or improving their lives etc.
When you look at your community trend movements, don’t focus on the specific numbers but the changes to them over time. You can put more weight on active unique users in the last 30 days vs overall registered to see what are the actual active conversion rate – the percentage of actual users who sticking around and using the social network. Many time, we got fooled by the puffed numbers, but without insight and interpretation, those numbers don’t tell us much.
While marketers traditionally were the direct channel and voice to the customer, creating direct mail, advertising and corporate press releases. CMOs today must develop advocacy programs in order to scale, increase credibility and demonstrate commitment to customers. In doing so, marketers will develop a low-cost trusted unpaid army of customer advocates.
In this Forbes Article, author explains in pragmatic steps what marketing executives must do to develop a scalable program. He layout that to develop advocacy programs, CMOs must conduct the following five steps:
1.) First, get ready internally. You’ll need to dedicate an internal staff member on a part-time basis to manage this program. Look for folks who have a background in influencer relationships and are savvy about social media – traditional command-and-control techniques need not apply. Develop a plan and educate internal stakeholders. You will need to inform Support, Product, Account Managers, Legal. Next, develop a content plan to constantly fuel the advocates with topics and time with upcoming product releases.
2.) Find the right advocates that will represent your brand. It is important to select the right advocates. First, find them where they already are. Look at top blogs in your industry, the most helpful and knowledgeable community members in the support forums, and those that have dedicated their time to managing Facebook pages, online forums or are active in the ecosystems. Use the following six attributes to gauge if they’ll be successful advocates: 1.) They should have a track record of their contributions and expertise. 2.) They should be respected and have influence in the community. 3.) They must be helpful, passionate, reliable, trustworthy. 4.) They should possess strong communication skills. 5.) They should have existing communication platforms. 6.) They must be committed to the program requirements.
3.) Build a relationship for the long term. Just like courting, in any relationship it is best to start by building trust. Invite your select group of advocates to your headquarters to meet with key product teams, communications and customer-focused executives. Be prepared to listen, and be attentive to their requests. The key is to acknowledge their ideas, without coming across as defensive. After this effort, you’ll have a strong sense of who you’ll want to work with more closely. Wal-Mart ( WMT – news – people ) invited top bloggers to its HQ in Bentonville AR, which resulted in an advocacy program called the Elevenmoms. Intel ( INTC – news – people ) invites its ‘Insiders’ to social media and digital savvy folks to key events like Intel Developer Forum.
4.) Give them a platform – but do not pay them. The crux of an advocacy program is giving fans a platform for communicating. You’ll want to support their efforts by giving them a publication platform such as a group blog or community, so they can tell their story. Ensure they are properly kept up to date, and that the lines of communications are always open for discussion, even when there is negative content. Enable them with graphical “badges” they can put on their blogs, email signatures, T-shirts, and business cards as they become extended ambassadors to your brand. Microsoft MVP program showcases their advocates, and provides them with a variety of resources to evangelize.
5.) Integrate them into your business and recognize them. It’s key to continue to build on the momentum you’ve established by following the above steps. Next, continue to integrate them into your existing events, product launches and even planning meetings with product teams. Lego invited top advocates for their next-generation windstorm product, and intertwined customer opinion with the produce team. As a result, a successful product launched, that was quickly sold out. Microsoft ( MSFT – news – people ) has “conference” funds for MVPs who are encouraged to speak at industry related conferences about their passions – further spreading the brand.