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Fan Empowerment: The Next Frontier in Social Media Marketing Tools

Mon, 12/17/2012 - 10:12am -- Sarah McNew

Fan Empowerment: The Next Frontier in Social Media Marketing Tools

Since time immortal (alright like 4 years ago), brands have incorporated social media marketing tools into their social initiatives to help shore up weaknesses and provide a better experience for fans. Now, these same companies are turning to the next generation of social media marketing tools to take their social media initiatives to the next level by empowering fans and brand ambassadors to control their own social media experience. 

Why is fan empowerment so important? 

The win for every almost every company's social media marketing initiative is to get to the point where your fans are starting to do the bulk of the publishing work. Think about it, each of your fans are spending, on average, eight hours a month on Facebook. Now multiply that by your fan base. Even at only a few hundred fans you have gained eight hundred publishing (wo)man hours. That’s the equivalent of hiring 20 full-time employees, and that’s only on Facebook. 

Bottom line, your fans have more social conversations a day than your brand has in a month.  To maximize efficiency, it is worth taking a look at ways to empower your fans to do the brunt of the tweeting, publishing and championing for you. Doing so will allow your brand to hit previously unfathomable levels of reach and amplification, a totally “there is no spoon” kind of vibe.

How Social Media Marketing Tools Empower Fans

The first generation of social media marketing tools were all about making the brand’s life a little easier. Using these tools, a company could schedule posts to publish on a regular basis without having to ensure that an individual was always free at 2pm on Wednesdays. They could also set up alerts and listen for conversations about their brand. All-in-all, pretty good stuff, however, the second generation of social media marketing tools (like SocialToaster) are kicking it up a notch by allowing brands to take their initiatives a step further and empower their fans. 

The driving force behind fan engagement? The opportunity for the fan to have choices and ownership in their social media experience. With all of the fuss over how Facebook’s new EdgeRank impacts how many of your posts are seen by fans, this is a step in the right direction that gives your fans the power over what they see from you and how often. Empowering your brand ambassadors is a lot like empowering your employees. Give them the tools they need to succeed, give them a sense of responsibility and then just get out of the way (for the most part). 

So how are fans and brands being empowered with social media marketing tools?

Fan Empowerment - Choose How To Publish

It used to be that if you were lucky enough to have a fan who wanted to talk about your company across multiple platforms they would have to sign-in to each account individually. You can start to see the problem here, the solution is not scalable. Sure, an individual might share your message with one platform, but how often do you think they’re going to share it with three or four? The next wave of social media marketing tools allow fans to easily share to their networks straight from the brand site with an easy one-click solution. The easier it is for fans to share, the more likely they are to share across multiple platforms. WIth this in mind, SocialToaster was built to allow fans to connect multiple social networks at once including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and MySpace. Fans can share your content with a single click across all of their social channels at once.

Fan Empowerment - Choose When To Publish

Social media marketing tools came into prominence by allowing brands to determine their own publishing schedule. With the evolution of these tools, fans are now gaining this same ability. Fans are no longer forced to anxiously wait by their Twitter accounts in hopes that you will send out a tweet before they can retweet that message to their followers. Now, social media tools are empowering fans by letting them post on their own schedules, choosing to publish pre-selected, pre-approved content on their own time. This level of empowerment drives a deeper engagement with the fan. SocialToaster allows fans to decide if they want to auto-publish your content or if they want to approve content before it is sent across their social networks. Fans who want to approve content receive an email with your latest piece of content. To share it they simply hit the click to share button. Easy peasy lemon breezy. Your content was just shared to all of their social networks. 

Fan Empowerment - Choose What To Publish

The ultimate empowering factor, choosing what to publish. Nothing says that you want your fans to take publishing into their own hands like letting them decide what type of content to publish. Everyone has personal preferences and tastes and a good social media marketing tool is going to support all sorts of media and allow the user to select what content type they want to post.

Brands are doing this in a variety of ways, but the most common is allowing fans to select the type of content they want using segmentation features similar to email marketing lists. Then brands can publish the content their fans want the most to the fans who said they want it. This allows brands to publish more frequently than they could if each message went out to their entire database. For example, if your fans tell you they are deal hounds and want the latest coupon, but other fans say they want announcements on new products, you can make educated decisions about what type of content to produce. SocialToaster allows brands to include list segmentation as part of the sign up process for super fans. 

Fan Empowerment - Becoming A Super Fan

So how does your brand decide which fans to empower? In addition to all the historic benefits of using social media marketing tools, brands are now able to listen more closely to conversations happening in the social space. First generation tools only allowed brands could to listen to conversations they were specifically involved in, now brands have the opportunity to listen to the general conversations taking place in their market space. 

So what’s to gain from this active listening? By paying attention to who is leading these conversations to the betterment of your brand, you can start to identify your super fans. Tamsen Webster, formerly McMahon, coined the phrase “Altruistic Activator” to describe these individuals that are self-selecting themselves to advocate for your brand. Altruistic Activators love your brand and already tell everyone they know about you. They are viewed as low-risk, high-reward advocates, in that they don’t require as steep of an investment as say getting Oprah to tweet about your company. Additionally, the Altruistic Activator’s message is viewed as authentic and real. These Altruistic Activators are the driving force behind successful social media strategies. Brands are faced with the challenge of identifying their Altruistic Activators through standard listening tools when many times these conversations happen behind Facebook’s privacy wall. However, tools like SocialToaster allow your Altruistic Activators to self-identify and join the program. Brands will be able to quickly identify these loyal fans within SocialToaster’s proprietary reporting dashboard.  Once identified, brands can reach out and proactively reward those individuals for championing their cause. Sometimes a simple thank you is enough, other times brand’s might want to kick back some cool swag or a nice reward. Either way, the idea is to encourage and reward a company’s most loyal fans and their sharing behavior to keep the fans’ experience with your brand positive. SocialToaster provides a great platform for identifying and engaging Altruistic Activators by empowering them with your content and rewarding them with a built-in rewards program that is easy for brands to deploy. 

Ready to start empowering your fans with the next wave of social media marketing tools? Contact the SocialToaster team today!

How have you used a social media marketing tool to better empower your fans?Let us know in the comments below. 

About the author:
 

SarahSarah McNew Razzaque     Twitter

Chief Product Officer - SocialToaster

Fun fact: Loves coney dogs!

 

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