Social media’s biggest perk is its ability to create loyalty (or advocacy) like no other marketing channel besides old-fashioned word of mouth. Social media is Word of Mouth 2.0. When you are train student-athletes, employees, or interns to use social media responsibly, the benefits to the brand’s reputation are enormous. To get the maximum bang for your buck, make sure your responsible use training includes tips on how to engage fans through social media loyalty strategies.
Schools and business brands are starting to learn what crisis and reputation managers have known all along: brand loyalty creates trust, and trust can speed the mitigation and lessen the damage of a negative event or crisis. Social media can help you build an army of advocates that will rush to your side when a negative swarm assails you. I saw it happen with Penn State in 2011 and have seen it happen many times over in the last five years. Advocates stand guard. Brands that are trusted have less crises, according to an Altimeter study. Social media training for internal groups, whether student-athletes or employees, will help these groups engage loyal fans via social media channels and guard the brand’s reputation. This goes for personal brands as well as organization brands.
Friends and family will often forgive a negative event to save the greater cause. So will brand advocates, and they will do so publicly. But advocates are not the same as influencers – it’s key to understand the difference between the two. We sometimes confuse a large number of followers and wide social graph with advocacy–it ain’t necessarily so. I encourage you to read this informative piece by Jay Baer that lays out the differences very well. Think of influencers as an audience and advocates as friends. Influencers usually will not defend you where advocates will. We need both.
Social media training has to be about more than just statistics and bad screenshots. Good training programs will coach participants on how to use social media to build a brand through loyalty strategies to protect reputation and build trust.
The Next Step: Loyalty Strategies
Social media responsible use and building loyalty go hand in hand. Building lasting trust and loyalty requires deliberate tactics and produces tangible benefits.
What happens when people trust you? According to the 2011 Edelman Trust Barometer, when a company is trusted, 51 percent of people will believe positive information about the company after only hearing it one or two times. Only 25 percent will believe negative information after hearing it one or two times.
But what if you are not trusted? According to the same Edelman report, 57 percent of people will believe negative information about a company they do not trust after only hearing it once or twice. Only 15 percent will believe something positive about the company after hearing it one or two times.
The amazing value of loyalty is that when your brand suffers a negative event of some kind, people will give you the benefit of the doubt more often. And if they are a loyal fan, they are more likely to believe good information about you—and come to your defense.
The majority of social media crises can be prevented – according to Altimeter, as many as 76 percent. From this chart in chapter one of Practice Safe Social, we see that many causes of online crises are directly related to social media: inappropriate online content, community censorship, lack of fact checking, inappropriate online response, and failure to respond quickly.
Next, we’ll look at the various social media strategies that help build advocacy. Stay tuned.
This piece is an excerpt from my latest book, Practice Safe Social: How to use social media responsibly to protect your reputation and build loyalty. It’s available now on Amazon.com by clicking here. The book is an excellent guide to setting up your own social media responsible use training.