To make your blog worth the effort, it’s got to be shared. And that’s what we discussed in Part I: Share and Part II: Shareable of this S.S.T.S. Series. Great! But how do you get folks to really TALK about you, rather than just shooting out one-shot shares?
You begin with content, of course. No one is going to share crap, no matter how easy you make it for them to do so. In the C.P.A. Series we talked about getting folks to open and read your post. Done! In the R.C.A. Series we discussed giving folks something engaging to talk about – relevant, constituent-centered and actionable content. Done and done.
Now that you’ve got the good stuff, you need to get folks walking your talk!
You want more than short-term share transactions. You want shares that drive desired action responses; you want transformation! First let’s review who your “talkers” are; then (in the next post) we’ll examine six ways to get the conversations flowing.
There’s debate about the relative merits of “Influencers” and “Advocates.” Influencers are generally defined by the size of their audience. Advocates are defined by how much they like you and are satisfied with their experience with you.
It has been said that influencers drive awareness; advocates drive action. Suffice it to say they can both be helpful to you, provided they have credibility with your target constituencies and an audience of folks that resembles your target constituencies (in other words, do their readers share the same values as your readers?).
You can use influencers – those folks hanging out by the water cooler that people are somehow most drawn to. The popular kids. It’s tempting to simply seek them out and put all your eggs in their basket. After all, they’ve got thousands and thousands of followers. They’ll make you go viral. Right?
If all the stars are aligned, getting influencers to share your blog posts can work. In Social Media Influence Marketing : When the User Becomes the Ambassador Ray Morin talks about how General Motors partnered with Klout to find users with social scores of 60+; then offered them road tests of the cars GM wanted to promote. Once they experienced the ‘ultimate ride’ many of them could not resist the temptation to talk about their experience on social media. It worked. And it’s worked for nonprofits like Charity:Water who’ve been able to attract a host of celebrity spokespersons.
More than influencers, you need advocates. Let’s get real. Most nonprofits are in a somewhat different situation than a major brand, like GE, that offers a product with universal appeal. Everyone (almost) is interested in cars. So going the Klout route may be somewhat extreme unless everyone in the universe is interested in what you do. And most small to medium-sized nonprofits do not have celebrity endorsers. So you’re probably not going to want to put all your eggs, if any, there.
For a great discussion of the relative merits of influencers vs. advocates check out Short-Term Lease vs Long-Term Relationship: The Difference Between Influencers & Advocates and this cool infographic by Jay Baer Social Media Influencers versus Brand Advocates. The truth is that influencers (just like the popular kid in school) tend to have their own agenda. As soon as someone better comes along they’ll drop you quicker than you can say “hot potato.”
Whatever we call them, let’s find out who your natural “sharers” may be. By ‘natural’ I mean folks who are already connected to you or who have a demonstrated interest in your work. Folks who are passionate about your cause. Folks who won’t abandon you at a moment’s notice. Here are a few possibilities:
- Niche bloggers
Begin by finding those folks who are most enthusiastic about your organization (aka brand), service or product. You can do this by asking people via email, Facebook or Twitter to let you know: “On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends?” (Perhaps preface this request with a “Please help us improve ___”). Those who answer 9 or 10 are your most likely ‘brand advocates’. The other way to figure this out is by simply noticing who shares your content the most; then reach out to them. This latter group is golden, as they’re the ones who genuinely enjoy sharing. Plus they tend to be on the look-out for new things to share.
Brand advocates are the key to unlock your promotion strategy potential. According to a new study brand advocates are 83% more likely to share information than typical web users, and 50% more likely to influence a purchase (aka donation). These folks tend to truly value their relationship with you; they like you to notice and appreciate them.
Appreciate your blog boosters! We’ll talk more in the next post about how to show your advocates some love. But for now, here’s one key tip:
Religiously say thank you whenever someone talks about you. They gave you a gift. Give them a thank you note. It’s what Miss Manners would tell you to do. If you think people are going to feel or behave differently just because they now have digital communication options, think again. People are people; making friends matters. When it comes to building and sustaining transformative donor relationships, the fact that there’s so much noise in today’s multi-channel marketplace makes it even more important that we distinguish ourselves in the minds of our supporters as distinct, relevant and caring.
Do you think brand advocates and social media influencers are different? How do you recruit boosters who will share your blog?
Image courtesy of Petal Pahlavan