What is Social Media Advocacy? How does it Work?
What is Social Media Advocacy? How does it Work?
Social Media Advocacy is the process of using personal social media channels to promote and share business posts and content with friends and associates, it can be extremely useful for your hotel marketing activities as the process allows for specific content and campaigns to be targeted and shared.
Social Media Advocacy can be roughly divided into three sections:
- Personal Advocacy
Where you personally share your company’s posts, blogs, tweets, etc.
- Employee Advocacy
Where your employees share the company content in their private social media networks.
- Ambassador Advocacy
Where you have a group of dedicated followers or ‘fans’ who share your brand’s content in their personal social media channels.
The top goals for content marketing are generating more quality leads (75%), attracting traffic to the website (71%), improving brand reputation (56%) and improving customer engagement and loyalty (45%)
Using social media advocacy can help with addressing all of these issues.
To fully utilise social media advocacy for your hospitality business, a combination of all four advocacy approaches is the ideal – the more people you have engaging with your content and sharing it, the further your reach will grow, resulting in an increase in lead generation and potential sales as a result.
There is an important balance that needs to be addressed when adopting social media advocacy, and that is perception. If you are seen to be sharing every single post, blog or tweet, with no regard for the content, then the impact of your contribution is diminished, if your audience doesn’t think you care about what it is you’re putting forward to them, they won’t bother engaging with it.
When you, your staff and your Influencers share your hotel content, there has to be meaning to it, other than just ‘to be seen’. Think about what your customers are interested in, what unique selling points or promotions you are advertising. Everything you share is going to be someone’s first impression of your hotel, you need to make sure it’s of a high standard and relevant to their needs.
To make social media advocacy work, you can share often if you like – but you must like what you share.
Your content must be something that either you yourself find interesting, or think your personal circle will; over-promoting or promoting sub-standard content could see your audience un-liking or un-following your page, or hiding your posts, which defeats the point.
66.99% of people will unfollow a brand on social media if they’re posting irrelevant content (GoodFirms, 2019)
Having a social media content strategy and high professional standards for your hotel will help you monitor the quality of your company posts and ensure that shared items always have the right tone, message, branding and standards to represent your business.
‘The bottom line is that an effective employee advocacy program drives brand awareness and increases referral traffic to your website, which will improve your conversion rates substantially.’
(John White, Inc.com)
Whether this is through a formal program, or simply encouraging your company to engage with the content it generates will depend on your business needs and social media strategy – but it is clear that having social advocacy is a potent tool for your business to adopt and implement.
Starting from the Top
Your employees are a vital asset in promoting your business, they are the people who have the best understanding of the services you provide, the highlights and qualities of your hotel, and can promote you in a more informal setting.
It is estimated that disengaged employees cost the UK £52-70 billion per year in lost productivity (CBBenefits), with 70% of the UK workforce claiming to feel disengaged (Gallup).
So it is important that you recognise that the people who work for you, who are all potential brand champions, need to have their concerns and worries addressed so that they feel that they want to promote your hotel.
When people see that your workforce are happy and engaged, it gives the company a more approachable and ‘human’ quality – which can help to generate trust and promote brand awareness.
However, as with many aspects of business, social media advocacy works best when there is a clear example of strong leadership. If the highest-ranking members of your business don’t feel that the content is worth sharing, then it will affect the motivations of the team, why should they share posts that the higher management don’t appear to believe in?
As well as your general group of friends and associates, people need to see that you believe in your hospitality brand, that your management teams believe in your company – if everyone is promoting and endorsing the hotel, it will help build confidence in the brand.
How to Develop a Social Media Advocacy Program for Your Hotel
Once you have decided to engage with the advocacy program, it’s important that you understand what you need, and the best ways to implement it.
- Decide on your goals.
What is it that you want to achieve? Are you trying to raise your brand awareness? Recruit new skilled workers? Increase lead generation and sales? If you try to do everything at once, you will send out a mixed message and dilute the impact.
You need to decide what has priority and aim to achieve your desired goals one at a time.
- Choose What You Will Measure and How
Before you begin, you need to look at what you’ve chosen to achieve and decide what data you will be collecting to measure your success or failure with the project. Once you’ve decided this, you must determine what software is best capable of recording it and set up the parameters accordingly.
- Brainstorm and Establish Guidelines
This is an opportunity to sit down with your employees and discuss your company with them – find out how they see it, and develop the ‘voice’ you want to use to generate additional outside interest in your content. Some of your team may not be social media savvy, and this is your opportunity to provide them with training and encouragement.It is important that you provide firm guidelines for expected behaviour if you want your employees to share your posts, then allowing them to do so in the working day is a good idea, but they must realise that this is not permission to waste company time. They should be gently reminded that this is a formal exercise – not playtime.
- Decide on What Social Media Platforms You Intend to Use.
There are a huge number of social media platforms to choose from, and it’s important that you concentrate your efforts where you are going to get the best results. This may mean that you have a stronger presence on some platforms than others, but it will entirely depend on your target demographic. If your potential audience isn’t using a social media platform, and it looks like there is no engagement from any of your competitors there either, then you need to decide if it’s worth expending your energy on it.
- Allow your Employees to Choose the Roles they are Best Suited For
There are a number of different roles within a social advocacy program, and some of your team may be better suited for particular ones. Some may not feel comfortable engaging in comments, but are happy to share or ‘like’, others may enjoy engaging in conversation with others and leading them to the posts. It is important to work with your employees to ensure that they are placed in the optimal position to garner the best responses.
Brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when distributed by employees’ vs the brand.(Social Toaster, 2020)
- Monitor Your Team
This is not a program that you can just start and let run – it needs to be monitored, not just for the analytics, but to ensure that your employees are sharing appropriate content and that the brand is being enhanced by their contributions. Having regular meetings with your team will allow you to address any issues (which may help negate any discontent that employees may feel), praise those who are doing well, and encourage those who aren’t.
It gives you the opportunity to evaluate your team, and swap roles around should it be required. It may be effective to offer your team an incentive, creating friendly competition can increase your employee’s drive and motivation, and in turn garner better results.
It is unlikely that the program will work flawlessly first time, and even if it works well, monitoring the team and the results will allow you to make changes where necessary.
Just because a plan and guidelines were put in place to start with, doesn’t mean that they have to be rigidly adhered to – having a flexible attitude and quick responses will allow you to engage with current trends and keep your business in the public consciousness.
Social Media Advocacy is not an overnight process, it takes time to set up, build and engage, but it is worth the effort as not only does it increase your reach and brand recognition, but it encourages stronger ties and growth with your employees, and makes social media work for your hotel brand.