Turn Quiet Customers into Brand Ambassadors with the Right Social Media Content Strategy

July 1st, 2013 by Alison Zeringue

Thanks to Panda and social signals becoming more prevalent than ever in Search Engine algorithms, content both on and off-site is moving to the forefront of most SEO and online marketing strategies. Truly exceptional content not only ranks well, but is shared virally and provides a real value to the reader.

Something I really began believing at PubCon NOLA this year is that social signals for search go beyond just whether someone likes or shares your content. The social signals Google is looking for have more to do with whether your customers are talking online about their experience with you after their purchase.

Source: mvellandi Flickr http://bit.ly/8vqROG

Source: mvellandi Flickr http://bit.ly/8vqROG

The problem here is the ratio between people who want to shout it from the rooftops when they have a bad experience to those who openly share when they are excited or had a positive experience. In today’s social age, everyone is a journalist, food critic, secret shopper and referral source. The average Facebook user has 229 friends on the social network, meaning that if they so choose, they can instantly alert at least 229 friends to stay far away from the new Italian restaurant in the neighborhood after finding a hair on the pizza.

That’s pretty powerful. There aren’t many other platforms that allow one individual to communicate with so many others so quickly, and to be so expressive while doing it.

As a business, you’ve probably been told that you need to be marketing on social media to protect your reputation online and grow your business by generating leads or driving more customers into your store. I would challenge you to think beyond that.

When is the last time you had a great experience at a local restaurant? Did you tell anyone about it? If so, how many people? Now think about the reverse. Chances are, you told a few more people about the negative experience than you did the positive one.

Source: LetoLab.com

It is time to change our thinking when it comes to social messaging, beyond the traditional “lead gen” mindset. Rather than trying to push your product on someone who’s never used it or heard of it, why not look for opportunities to engage your existing happy but quiet customers and get them talking? Social media gives marketers and businesses the opportunity to turn a customer into a brand ambassador.

Yes, we have to make sure we watch out for Panda and keep an eye on that pesky Google and their algo updates when it comes to on-site content strategy. I don’t mean for my focus on social to suggest that you should move your entire content strategy off your own website and onto social platforms. But, if we think about using our online content strategies to lift up our happy customers, get them sharing and engaging with us, just imagine the viral potential to reach their friends and family–new business you haven’t yet tapped into.

You’re probably like, “Ok, I get your point, but how do I DO that?” Funny you should ask! Social media content strategies will vary by business and industry, but here are some tips for converting your social media following into brand ambassadors:

  1. Tone down the sales messages and pushy language. No more than about 20% of your social messaging should be self-referential or portray a sales message. Within this 20%, remember that the goal of these posts should be to provide a real value proposition to the audience. This could include specials, deals or contests.

    Content Strategy for Social Media - Provide a Value

    While this is basically a self-promotional post for Shutterfly, an online photo service, they are providing a value to their customers with a create-your-own cover photo featuring dad for Father’s Day.

  1. Reward your loyal customers and followers with exclusive information. Whether is a sneak peak into an upcoming in-store special or just a “Did You Know” fact, people love to feel like they have the inside scoop, so give it to them!

    Social Media Content - Give Fans Exclusive Info

    Online retailer HauteLook hosts designer pop-up sales for a limited time until inventory is sold. They effectively use social media to make their audience feel like they’re getting the inside scoop while also promoting the upcoming sale.

  2. Feature your fans. Everyone loves to be recognized, so give your fans a moment to shine by choosing to feature them every once in awhile. They’re more likely to share the content with their friends and family (increasing the potential reach of your future posts).
    Content Strategy - Fan Features

  3. A little subtlety goes a long way. I’m a big proponent of including a call to action in your post, but it’s best not to take it to the extreme. Providing a share-worthy piece of content to your pre-qualified audience with a slight nudge can never hurt.

    Social Media Strategy - Calls to Action Increase Engagement

    Disneyland provides a great piece of content with a direct call to action: share. And share they did! The piece resonates well with their audience and was timely for the Mother’s Day holiday.

  1. Post well and post often. At PubCon New Orleans this year, Alison Zarella (another AZ girl!) said it best: “the newsfeed is crowded.” As a business or brand, your competition on Facebook is not limited only to the business across the street that sells the same product. You’re also competing for your audience’s attention with the likes of their moms, distant cousins, besties and frenemies. If you don’t post great content and do it consistently, you’ll never be seen.

  2. Reply, reply, reply! Make sure to reply to your customers who comment or post with questions! Facebook and social networks are where people spend a lot of their time these days, so getting a quick reply and notification of that reply is what they expect.Social Media Content - Reply to Your Customers' Questions

  3. Be flexible and test for yourself. Above all else, try new things and test multiple approaches with your fans. There’s lots of information and data out there about what works, when to post and how to do it, but the truth is that every industry is different. You’ll never know what is the most effective for your brand until you try new things, compare results and adjust your approach.