I recently watched a presentation from Jay Baer where he stressed that our employees and students are our greatest brand advocates. The student bloggers at WeAreIU.com have already demonstrated that in a big way. Now, we are working on a project where we can take this to a whole new level via social media.
When you start thinking about such a project, the most practical question is "how do we engage these advocates?" Well, following along with the framework that Jay laid out in his presentation, advocacy is born from culture, not technology or marketing. So, our role as social media marketing technology folks is to learn how to effectively promote, encourage, and facilitate a culture where our advocates (employees and students) can engage their roles as our greatest brand ambassadors.
The truth is, advocacy is no longer optional. As Jay described, in the world of social media, personal and commercial collide into one co-mingled stream of information. Thus, our success with social media will increasingly depend on our student and employee advocates, not our branded efforts. This mindset is contrary to popular, historical thinking. It is not easy to make the adjustment. It is going to take a focused, intentional effort to implement.
Here are a few stats to help us muster up the incentive and resources to achieve this:
92% of Americans trust recommendations from family and friends (Nielsen, 2012)
47% of Americans trust advertising from companies (Nielsen, 2012)
98% of Millennials are more likely to engage with a friend’s social media post than with a brand’s social media post (SocialChorus, 2013)
95% of Millennials say their friends are the most credible source of product information (SocialChorus, 2013)
OK, let's start looking at how we can put this plan into action. Here are some numbers you should take into consideration. According to recent reports, the average Facebook user has approx. 330 friends, and the average Twitter user has just over 200 followers. If we can recruit 100 social media champions for IU as student and employee advocates, we have the potential of reaching over 33,000 people on Facebook, 20,000 on Twitter, AND we are reaching them in a way that they trust the most! That is powerful, folks. It sure beats the heck out of trying to grow friends and followers on our branded social media accounts. To sum it all up in one simple phrase:
"Social power belongs to employees and customers (students), and is loaned to brands."
This means that today, every single employee and student is effectively in marketing and customer service, whether they know it or not.
In his presentation, Jay identified eight requirements for a successful social media advocacy program. This article describes seven of them. The requirement that is missing in the article is "roles", which he added after he wrote the article. Today, we are focusing on three of those requirements - platform, champions, and coaches.
Jay highly recommends Addvocate as the platform of choice. I have spoken to the representatives at Addvocate, and they have agreed to work with us to set up a FREE Pilot program to test an employee/student advocacy program. In order to make this project work, we need your participation to help identify potential champions, as well as coaches. I will be acting as a coach, and the folks at Addvocate will be providing us with resources to assist us in coaching, including training, webinars, "how-to" videos, and more. I will be working with them to keep track of the progress, and develop a business case for securing a budget upon the conclusion of the project.
Here is what I need you to do.
If you are interested in participating in this program, simply fill out the form below. We will contact you when we are ready to get this project started.
Send a link to this article to anyone who you think might also be interested. Tweet it. Post it on Facebook. Share it on LinkedIn. Go old school - email it to some folks. Just share it.
Once we have enough names to get this project started, we will be contacting everyone on the list to let them know what the next step is. I will be working with Addvocate to prepare for a launch of the program, and ensure that everyone is properly trained and equipped before we get started. The initial plan is for this program to run for approximately 90 days. If we get started soon, that means that we will run right into the beginning of the school year. This is an ideal time to test the potential of this program. As always, if you have any questions about this program, please let me know in the comments section below. Thanks for your cooperation and participation. Take care.