Advocates and Social Media
New-age advertisers frequently create viral campaigns and use social media to encourage their advocates to ’spread the word’. But is this money well spent? A new paper from JupiterResearch casts some doubt on the strategy.
The paper Brand Advocates: Creating Rewarding Relationships finds that:
Twenty-four percent of online adults are influential brand advocates, but they spend more time online researching and purchasing than spreading the word, and prefer mainstream media to social media when researching products. Social marketers should target this group with product microsites, product previews, and sweepstakes, rather than blogs and user-generated content (UGC).
Over two-thirds of brand advocates research products online and make purchases. Reliability and value-for-money are the most important features of a product for them, with 80% and 86% agreeing that these were among the most important factors respectively. Brand advocates are also interested in next-generation products: one in four purchase new and innovative products and one in five are the first in their group to do so.
However, their focus is on gathering product information, not on spreading the news to others online. “Contrary to many social marketers’ expectations, brand advocates spend more time researching products and services than they do advocating them.” Just 13% said that they had posted an opinion or produced other writing online about their purchases. Old-fashioned word of mouth remains a more potent form of spreading the message, with 20% of advocates saying that they’d told a friend about an advertisement or purchase.
They are also more likely (53%) to be ‘classic influentials’ - people whose friends ask them for advice on purchases - than they are to be ‘new influentials’ (33%) - who spread brand messages. Brand advocates may thus connect with smaller groups of people than advertisers might have hoped - but their influence within those groups is very strong.
Figure: Brand Advocates’ Social Media Use
The report consequently suggests that marketers who want to reach brand advocates concentrate on producing more and better product information:
[They should] focus campaigns on sponsored product information and learning-based engagement rather than encouraging consumer content creation. Microsites should have a lot of product detail and reviews to appeal to brand advocates’ interest in product research.
Attention to search keywords and keyword research are also key for marketers seeking this group, since advocates are more likely than most to use search engines to research more information after seeing an online ad (45% vs. 33%).
“Marketers will have an easier time of attracting more brand advocates if they target this group with the right tactics,” said David Schatsky, President of JupiterResearch. “Behavioural and content targeting are likely to attract brand advocates, since more than half of this segment is likely to pay attention to online ads that fit their interests or current activity.”