The only place I can buy shoes my size is the United States of America… sounds crazy right… we don’t have large size shoes in stores back home (India). Now what does large shoes have to do with your brand advocacy program and with social media? Everything!
Brand Advocates and Social Media
Do they sound like strange bedfellows? Well they’re not. Being social involves engaging with customers across a huge number of social channels where your customers are. However, it’s difficult for any organization to manage this on their own, considering the limited resources, the volume of conversations and the myriad social channels out there. And if they are doing this, then they’re seriously not leveraging the power of the social network. Social proof causes people to find a third party independent advocate much more credible than an official company representative. That’s the reason why you and I take the time to read a review on sites like Amazon by complete strangers and tend to believe the unknown reviewer.
Moreover, brand advocates, your raving fans, brand defenders, evangelists are the voice of the community and they help amplify your voice across the social networks. A social program without brand advocacy as part of the strategy is missing a crucial ingredient.
The problem with brand advocacy programs
There are very few successful brand advocacy programs. Yep I know it sounds like a strange contradiction considering what I just said about social media and brand advocates. Most brand advocacy programs are challenged with low participation from brand advocates and quite a few are lying dormant after the initial euphoria of signing up the first few brand advocates. But why? There are multiple reasons why this could happen, and I’m going to talk about the segmentation challenge as it’s the most important from the brand advocate point of view.
What’s shoes got to do with it?
You might see a great shoe in the window display of a store, you might go into the store, but unless they have a shoe which exactly fits your feet, you’re not going to buy it, right?
Segmentation is the solution
What is segmentation? Segmentation is the act of creating a product which is relevant to a particular person (target profile). You might have one core product, shoes, but you need to produce it in different sizes targeting the differently sized feet of your customers.
Yawn! How does segmenting help my brand advocacy program?
Most brand advocacy programs are designed keeping in mind the organizations requirements and objectives and misses out on keeping in mind the motivations and requirements of the brand advocates.
There are different kinds of people who do different activities: promote, review, comment, rate or share with others. If you want to be relevant to these different people you need to segment your program to help them do those activities easily.
What other advantages does segmenting bring to your brand advocacy program?
1. Increase relevance of your content
Have you ever received mail or product content which is just not relevant to you? Raise your hand if you have ( hint hint: the way to do that virtually is to add your comment below.
Well, as soon as you think about the various segments or kinds of people who comprise your brand advocates you can make your content more targeted and relevant to the appropriate people.
2. Ensures your messages are well received
I tend to pay more attention, retain and recollect information which is specially tailored to my tastes and requirements. Most of the general stuff I read I tend to forget very soon. Another perspective is it reduces the load and volume of content which I receive and read and hence content which is correctly segmented also ensures I pay more attention to.
What are the disadvantages of not segmenting your brand advocacy program?
Let me share an example:
You receive introductory information about a product which you’re already an experienced user off, and I keep sending you introductory information, instead of maybe best practices and ideas and add-ons to help you leverage the product further. What would happen very shortly? You’d tune off, You’d tend to ignore my messages won’t you? When you don’t segment your brand advocacy program you tend to alienate even your most faithful brand advocates.
Is there anything like too much segmentation?
Segmentation is an on-going process not a one-time activity. For example imagine you’re an enterprise with a number of products. You might initially segment your brand advocates based on the specific products they are customers / advocates about. Next you might segment based on the kind of activity they do, for e.g. some might be blog writers, some might be active on social channels some might be regularly speaking at conferences and meetings. Should one further segment based on the volume of speaking, sharing a person does? What do you think? You stop segmenting where there isn’t necessarily a large enough reason to segment as simple as that.
What to do when you’re unsure of your segmentation strategy?
Turn around the problem, ask your brand advocates, or even better see the kinds of questions they are asking support for, see what the popular articles or discussions are about around your products to identify the top segments. Listening on Social media channels like like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Google+, as well as various online forums and blogs enable you to understand your brand advocate and customer needs and get ideas on how to segment your brand advocacy program.
Example: Microsoft Segmenting their Brand Advocates
Microsoft has a large number of brand advocacy programs. They have brand advocates who write blogs, who support customers on various social channels etc. One of their programs is called the MVP (Most Valuable Professional Program). Microsoft segments the brand advocates in their MVP program based on the products the brand advocates specialize in. Further they have different programs based on whether they are targeting students and professionals. They even have segmentation based on reach versus depth activities the brand advocates do. They also have segmentation based on the kinds of activities the brand advocates do, for e.g. they have a large brand advocate base called Community Contributors who help in supporting other customers via online forums.
So what now?
Remember that one shoe doesn’t fit all, you can’t build a program focused on just one shoe size, people are people, and they have different needs and do different activities. Your brand advocates do a variety of activities on various social channels. Your brand advocate program can increase its relevance by ensuring that it is properly segmented to meet the needs of its brand advocates.
If you’ve found this interesting, and have ideas on segmenting your brand advocate program, please do share your ideas in the comments below, and I’d be happy to chat and possibly help you think thru your ideas.
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