For the better part of a decade, I have had the honor of leading the social media/online strategy of a number of Fortune 500 brands. I have learned so much and it has been pretty damn exciting. Over the last 18-24 months, I have seen a significant shift taking place in the world of social media, but little changes when it comes to how brands and agencies alike are approaching their social media strategy. 

Let’s take a quick look back. For several years, Facebook was the place to be and brands poured a great deal of money into growing their adage3communities with the hopes of creating a large and engaged community to market to. Unfortunately, for most brands, this has not happened. The reason is first and foremost, Facebook went public. Mr. Zuckerberg needed to show his new shareholders revenue, so he dropped organic reach into the single digits and turned his channel into a true pay-to-play model.

Think about this for a second. You’re a brand who spent thousands, tens of thousands, even millions to grow your Facebook community and now you need to pay AGAIN using Promoted Posts just to get your posts seen? If I was a CMO of a large brand right now, I would be pissed and rightly so. Facebook is double dipping, making brands pay to grow their community and now pay again just to engage with them.

But we can’t put all the blame on Facebook’s doorstep. There is a second issue which a lot of brands are dealing with and not just on Facebook, but across all of their social channels. They have a lot of dead weight on their channels. Users who became a fan or follower on their channel because the brand was running a contest or a friend asked them to or an old campaign grabbed their attention, but now, they could not care less about your brand. They are an anchor dragging down engagement rates and forcing marketing managers to question how they are going to show a return on investment for their social media marketing dollars, which brings me to today.

Myself and a small team of really smart folks got together and launched Advocacy Social to see if we could figure out a solution to this problem. We came up with a formula and tool that helps brands identify who their true brand advocates are within the large quagmire of their CRM, email databases and social channels. Within this deluge of user information, we have been able to identify brand advocates that not only have influence, but also deliver action.

We have been in a private alpha testing for the last couple of months working with a few clients and our results have been quite impressive. Just within email databases, we have seen an advocacy rate of more than 30%. That’s every 3 in 10 people self-identifying themselves as brand advocates and wanting to take their engagement with the brand to the next level.

And this next level is where many brands are struggling at the moment. Identifying your brand advocates is an important first step, but then you need to keep these advocates engaged. You need to have a brand advocacy strategy and treat this incredibly important group as a channel of its own.

Stay tuned for my next post where we discuss what worked to keep our advocates engaged.