by Adrian :: 2.12.10

On social advocacy and colic.

Let’s introduce a bit of a buzz-word that we probably already understand: Social Advocacy. In this post, I’m also aiming to demystify Social Media Marketing.

Social advocacy refers to the power of Word of Mouth (WOM). Many studies are telling us what we already know: we’re far more likely to engage with a product or service that a friend or a friend-of-a-friend recommends. Our family, friends and their friends form part of our social network.

What is social media?

Social media is a set of online tools that help us track & extend our social network and communicate in it.

You’ll want to embrace social media as its a toolset allowing you to amplify the effects of social advocacy.

Let’s help explain this with a little example. Pretend, if you can bear it,  that the internet hasn’t yet been invented.

A Colic Remedy

Imagine, I’m having a drink with a group of friends and we’re talking about all sorts of things. Work, play, kids, politics; how we’re spending and saving our money: We’re being social. I’ve never met Kitty before but she came along as a friend of a colleague. I’m exhausted being a victim to a series of sleepless nights: the little one’s suffering from colic. Kitty and I were chatting about our kids when I let slip an outrageous yawn. In the form of an apology I dragged the dreaded colic into the conversation. Kitty then tells me about this wonderful product called Infacol– administer it before a feed and it works a treat. On the way home, I pick up a bottle of Infacol (not gin) and that night my wife and I enjoyed an uninterrupted nights sleep. Feeling like a new man on the way to work the following morning, I recognise the Infacol brand on the tube advert that had probably been staring at me for the preceding 6 months. That Saturday our NCT group gets together and by the end of our eulogising about Infacol there were another 5 babies and 10 parents getting a great night’s sleep!

So just to recap: Infacol had captured 6 new clients- not on the back of their expensive old fashioned tube advert but on the back of social advocacy. Kitty had somehow been made aware of Infocal but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t a result of traditional advertising either and good old fashioned social advocacy (in the absence of the internet) extrapolated one happy client into 6

Bring back the internet

You can have the internet back now. How many readers of this post are now aware of Infacol? – they may not do anything immediately with this information but it’ll bubble up next time someone, in their social network, has colic issues. Equally so, over time as the Search engines index this site there’s a good chance someone who searches for “Colic Remedy” may just stumble on this little social advocacy case study. (please comment below if you do!)

Social networking tools

I am going to explain why you should consider using tools such as Twitter & Facebook. Remember, a social networking tool helps you communicate with and amplify your reach within that social network.

Had twitter been around in 2005 when our first born was keeping us awake at night I may have tweeted something like

Can’t keep my eyes open, little one kept us awake all night burping. #colicsux

This tweet would have multiple benefits. Firstly, people would understand why I was generally grumpy. The tweet would probably resonate with a few parents in a similar postion and I may get a response :a little bit of sympathy makes me feel better as I no longer feel alone. With a bit of luck, maybe I get some advice out of my Twitter social network. By using twitter I’ve done nothing different from telling Kitty at drinks that I was exhausted. All Twitter has done is its amplified my social network reac and that is powerful stuff! Let’s imagine that a NCT co-ordinator saw my tweet and decided to Retweet it (RT) to all her followers (her social network) – which was made up of 3,500 new parents. I would have been swamped by sympathy tweets and all sorts of advice – perhaps there’s a better solution than Infacol?!

Hopefully you’ll see the benefits of being on Twitter personally but what about your brand or business? I think it makes even more sense for an owner manager to be on Twitter because an entrepreneur’s business is so central to their lives. You need to create awareness of who you are, what you’re interested in and overtime your audience will understand what your business does and if they support you they’re likely to support you and spread the word. Kitty didn’t come to drinks and just talk about Cloud Computing – we started there but,to me, she ended up being the greatest sleep therapist. I’ve recently bought the most beautiful hand-knitted quilt from her (a business she’s just started) and I told all my friends about her fabulous product. I did this on Twitter and on Facebook by writing on the Wall of her business’ Facebook page. A friend of mine “liked” my comment and now all *her friends* (most of whom neither know Kitty nor I) are also aware of what great presents these handmade quilts will make.

Incidentally, Kitty has always been on Twitter in a big way, personally- but she now also has a Twitter account for her business. I don’t follow that account because her quilt tweets are slightly not my thing (although they interest the crafty types) but I enjoy hearing the odd tweet from her personal twitter account about what she’s up to (actually I’m far more interested in how Cloud Computing has revolutionised her business and how she, too, is kept on her toes by her little ones!) I guess the point I’m making here is these tools only work if you don’t depart from the offline social networking model we depended on before the internet. Don’t think you can walk into a room of people and dominate the conversation about how they’re really losing out because they haven’t purchased one of your quilts.

Awareness of your product or service only needs to be sown in a network of a few people for its awareness to grow exponentially. Think of ways to sow it and make sure you use the correct tools to amplify the WOM effect. And now you’re an expert on Social Advocacy, Social Media and Social Media Marketing. Questions?
Share |