The good old days.. When you could buy gum for a nickel, gas was under a dollar and as a social media marketer, your focus was growing your social communities. Those were the days. Brands have put time, resources and money into establishing and developing social communities and they are presently questioning how that time and money was spent and what they receiving from their investment.

The social media marketer has gone through an interesting journey since the birth of social media, oh so many years ago. Let’s take a look at the social media journey we have all traveled.

1. Fans/Followers

It started so nice and innocent. Through campaigns and content, brands entice (hopefully target markets) to Like or Follow our brands on social media channels. As these social communities grow, brands will have these engaged communities who they can market to and utilize to promote their products and services to their peers. Sounded like a great plan to me!

What’s Really Happening

Brands spent a ton of money growing these communities, but in most cases, the communities are not engaging like we all thumbs-downhoped. We enticed users with sweepstakes and many just Liked us because they hoped to win something, but never loved or was into the brand. So today, they sit as a fan or follower on our channel, dead weight, pulling down our engagement numbers because they have little interest in our brand.

The other challenge as I wrote previously, Facebook’s organic reach has dipped into the low single digits and now brands have to pay just to get their content in front of the community they spent al that time and money growing with no guarantee they are going to engage.

2. Influencers

Many brands have realized with much success that they can “partner” or in other words, pay influencers who have built a large engaged audience to promote their product or brand. Some brands are doing this quite well and empowering influencers to develop great content that users want to read and engage with, all the while promoting their brand, product or service.

What’s Really Happening

Utilizing influencers to help promote and raise awareness if done properly, is a good thing and will deliver success. The challenge is most influencer campaigns are in simplest terms, a media buy. Much like banner ads or PPC, as the campaign is running, a brand will see results, but the second the campaign comes to an end, the moment the money stops, radio silence. Everything stops. Without question, influencer campaigns can deliver great short-term gains, but is it a viable long-term strategy that will deliver ROI?

3. Advocates

Advocates are people like you and me who really dig your brand. They love your product, they love your service. You have treated them well and they without having to ask, do not hesitate to recommend you to their friends and peers. They have a passion for your brand and are willing to go the extra mile for you without having to offer them anything. For example, I LOVE I love everything about them. They provide me with the best online shopping experience, I get two-day free shipping and if I want to return something, there is never a hassle. I can’t tell you how many times I have recommended and advocated for Amazon to friends and peers online. And will continue to advocate for Amazon as long as they continue treating me like I expect to be treated.

people_globeWhat’s Really Happening

The challenge brands are having is identifying their brand advocates within their CRM, email databases and their social channels. By breaking through all this noise and identifying brand advocates, over time, an ever-growing advocate database becomes an invaluable resource. You have a growing list of self-identified brand advocates that want nothing more than to engage with and promote your brand. You just have to first identify them and then put in the required time and effort into developing content to keep them engaged.

Find out how we are doing this for our clients.