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How Employee Advocacy Builds personal Brands

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(Posted on Jun 24, 2014 at 06:19AM by William Cosgrove)
By establishing an employee advocacy program, companies can strengthen their own reputation and brand, while enabling their employees to do the same.

It is widely known that engaging your employees is a very effective way to improve brand perception. The obvious question is why would an employee want to take part in helping their company in marketing or brand building? What does an employee really gain by participating in an employee advocacy program?

One compelling benefit for launching an employee advocacy program is the clear dual value provided to all constituents. These programs, when executed correctly, are a true "win-win" for both brands and their employees. The benefits to the marketers are obvious; by tapping into the collective trust and amplification power of their employees, brands can generate broader awareness, amplify their marketing campaigns, and build their reputation via trusted voices in the market. The benefit to employees is their ability to authentically participate in their company's future while also developing and building their personal brands.

What Is a Personal Brand?Just as companies have their own unique brand and stories, so does every employee that works at the company. The employees' personal brands are built on their experiences, passions, and the social connections they are able to develop within their business and social circles. Individual personal brand is what can truly differentiate an employee from other people who work in the same industry and also can highlight what makes them unique or valuable to a market, industry or company.

One of the best ways to construct a personal brand is on social media. Employees can build profiles that showcase their experience and knowledge, connect with relevant people in their industry, share content, and engage in conversations about their industry, career, or passions. The social media channels that should be used will vary, depending on the employee's industry, department, and passions. But as a starting point, LinkedIn and Twitter are ideal channels for most professionals.

Why Do Employees Need to Build Their Personal Brand?A personal brand doesn't just focus on someone's current position, but on one's long-term career and interests. All of the content shared, conversations joined, and connections made are documented on these channels and stay with the employee throughout their career. Over time, these individual components come together to form one cohesive story and personal brand.

Having a strong personal brand shows potential employers, industry influencers, prospects, and customers that an employee understands the industry. By consistently sharing and engaging with relevant content, employees can show that they're not only intelligent and knowledgeable about their industry and current company, but that they have social media smarts as well. Those qualities are all key things employees need for long-term career development and growth.

How Does an Employee Advocacy Program Help Employees Build Their Personal Brand?While employees might be eager to increase their social following and engage with connections, it is time-consuming and may not seem natural for them at the beginning. As they develop themselves and get involved in their employer's advocacy program, they can be empowered to become a trusted voice in the market. The best employee advocacy programs ensure employees are provided interesting and relevant content that helps them stay on top of the topics and verticals they are interested in, while also ensuring they position themselves as true thought leaders and innovators in the market. Employees should be able to tap into the rich marketing and content resources provided by their employer and share those articles, ideas, and multimedia that they find most compelling, and that is most compelling for their audiences.

Even if employees are passionate about their role and company, as advocates should be, they will eventually move onto other opportunities. By establishing an employee advocacy program, companies strengthen their own reputation and brand, while enabling their employees to do the same.

By Russ Fradin

The Power Of Customer Loyalty

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(Posted on May 27, 2014 at 04:02AM by William Cosgrove)
Which customers are most profitable for you and what marketing tactics work best to attract them and encourage customer loyalty? In a recent survey, Huzzah Media found there’s a big gap between what marketing methods small business owners use and the ones they’d like to use if money were no object.

By far the top way small business owners engage with customers is their websites, cited by more than 80 percent of entrepreneurs. Next is the Yellow Pages, cited by more than 65 percent, followed by social media, used by nearly 55 percent.

Attracting new customers means nothing, of course, if they don’t buy anything, so the study also asked small business owners where most of their sales come from. Repeat customers were by far the biggest source of revenue for more than 43 percent of entrepreneurs, while new customers accounted for about 19 percent of revenues.

Interestingly, “word-of-mouth” was cited by 36.39 percent. In other words, new customers driven by existing customers’ recommendations are the second-biggest source of revenue—more than new customers who come to a business from other sources.

Along the same lines, when asked what marketing method is most successful for them, a whopping 52.22 percent of small business owners cited “friend referrals.” In comparison, just 33.23 percent say advertising is their most effective marketing method.

Clearly, most small business owners have a baseline online presence (that is, a website), and most are also using social media (although there’s definitely room for improvement there). But few are taking their online presence to the next level by using tools such as customer loyalty programs and mobile apps to their fullest extent. These can be great ways to increase word-of-mouth, retain existing customers and drive new ones.

So why aren’t small businesses using them? Primarily, they don’t have the budget (42 percent) or time (27 percent) to deal with expanding their online presence. In addition, about 18 percent admit to confusion about mobile apps, loyalty programs and social media—they’re either “overwhelmed” by the idea of doing more digitally or “don’t know where to start.”

Small business owners in the study are clearly aware that mobility is the hottest trend going right now. If they had the budget and time to make a change, more than 40 percent would like to add a mobile ad campaign while 21 percent would optimize their websites for mobile use. In reality, optimizing your website for mobile users doesn’t have to be costly. Finally, consider adding a loyalty program of some kind. With so much of the average small business’s revenue dependent on existing customers, it only makes sense to reach out to your customer base with rewards. There are more options than ever before for loyalty programs, from simple punch cards to sophisticated (yet affordable) mobile apps that make it easy to track customers’ shopping habits.

By Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media

Also Read Social Networking At Its Best

Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

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(Posted on May 8, 2014 at 04:49AM by William Cosgrove)
Many articles like the one you are about to read by Dave Evans have been written on this subject and one of the best solutions is in implementing and onsite community on your site. Follow the link at the end of the article to start understanding why….

There is no better way to create measure and maintain customer loyalty than by having an onsite social community. An onsite social community offers benefits that no other medium can match and is the most economical way to maintain and grow a loyal customer base.

Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

Allegiance to your brand begins again with every experience, from word-of-mouth mentions to small social objects like status updates that are passed around and shared.

Customer loyalty is an essential component in the business equations of most firms. After all, loyalty translates directly into a clear return on investment (ROI)-related benefit: lower churn (lower cost), higher renewal and upsell likelihood (more sales), etc. So beyond the obvious - do things that make customers happy, and don't do things that drive good customers away - what are the actionable steps you can take to systematically build and measure gains in loyalty?

Whether in a digital or "real" context (and note that for an increasingly large demographic segment, digital isreal), beneficial word-of-mouth is one of the most important marketplace signals that indicates the development (or erosion) of loyalty. Word-of-mouth and the small social objects - status updates, posts, videos - that are passed around and shared become part of the conversations that define contemporary brands, products, and services. Each of these can be systematically earned and nurtured, and related back as a precursor to loyalty.

As a starting point in assessing these precursors to loyalty consider Touchpoint Analysis, the discipline of measuring customer satisfaction at each and every point where a customer comes in contact with your product or service. Each of these interactions generates a conversation: as my colleague Xavier Jiménez put it, "Loyalty restarts with every customer experience." Although it may sound a bit like "what have you done for me lately" it's important to recognize that all interactions count, not just the outstanding (positive or negative) ones.

Sure, an outrageously excellent - or terrible - experience is likely to elicit an immediate tweet. But for every one of those there are many more "typical" experiences, experiences which day-in and day-out shape the ordinary conversations that power your brand's reputation. These same experiences - because they are associated with specific product and service interactions - also set the prevailing tone for the conversations that form around products and services. In other words, they drive sales.

So the first step is to measure and track your performance at these points of interaction - customer touchpoints - where talk-worthy experiences happen. Consider plotting the results so that you can see how various touchpoints are contributing to the overall perception of your product or service.

A simple way to do this - shown in the figure below - is to assess and rank performance at various touchpoints using a 0-10 scale. Then, for the same touchpoints assess and rank the talk-worthiness - how likely your customers are to talk about this particular touchpoint. For each touchpoint, plot talk-worthiness on the X-axis and assessed performance on the Y-axis. You'll end up with a map that should be "up and to the right." In other words, given the constraints that you operate against - no one can do everything - from a social optimization perspective the touchpoints with the highest likelihood to generate a conversation should be the touchpoints for which you recorded your best performances.
In reality it's seldom this simple: If your map looks more like blob than an up-and-to-right line, focus on the low-performing, highly talk-worthy points first; consider borrowing resources from the "low-talk/high-performance" efforts and apply them to the touchpoints you really need to improve on.

You can do more with touchpoints analysis, too: organize your touchpoint map chronologically and create a simple journey map. Furthest to the left - the earliest time - are the experiences associated with formation of opinion about a brand, product, or service during consideration. Furthest to the right are the experiences associated with renewal and the advanced stages of customer advocacy. The result is an understanding of the customer journey - the path your prospective customers follow when first entering into consideration of your product or service, through to the point where that same customer, after numerous interactions, has declared him or herself a brand advocate.

To see how touchpoint experiences impact loyalty, and indeed to see how loyalty itself is impacting advocacy, take your journey map and organize it into the post-acquisition stages of support, sales, and ideas corresponding to the customer emotions of satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as shown in the figure below.
Activity in any layer can happen independently of any other. But it's much more powerful when satisfaction (because of happiness with what has been purchased and the way your customer has been supported) leads to loyalty and new sales (because the right products or services are being offered given what has already been purchased) and ultimately to advocacy (because taken together, these are the kinds of experiences given the product or service involved that anyone would wish for anyone else in the same situation).

Why does this matter? Simple: When you place the pinnacle - advocacy - against the management of personal social capital as the basis for talking about a brand, product, or service, it's clear that from the customer's perspective it's all about managing and building his or her personal reputation in a specific domain so that when a recommendation is offered, it is not only followed but contributes further to the accrual of person social capital. From your (business) perspective, this is jet fuel for your brand ascension program - the ascension in customer emotion from satisfaction to loyalty to advocacy. Put all of this together - the reality of contemporary brand-building is that it is built on a negotiated relationship between business and customer - and you are set for success.

Look back at the main points in this article: evaluating performance at specific touchpoints, and focusing your effort on the ones that get talked about, on the experiences that are likely to lead from basic satisfaction to the first of the higher states - loyalty. Next, organizing these touchpoints chronologically to highlight the critical stages in the customer journey where these emotional stages are crossed. Finally, stacking all of this into layers themselves - satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy so that you can acquire, satisfy, and build brand advocates.

Loyalty begins with each experience: loyalty directly impacts ROI and leads to less-fiscal but nonetheless essential realization of advocacy. Follow the steps above, and at the same time score the power-up bonus by showing your customers how to build their social reputation in the domains which reflect their personal passions. Come back next month for more on how to do just that, and how to take reputation to the next level.

By Dave Evans
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave is the VP of social strategy at Lithium. Based in Austin, Dave is also the author of best-selling "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day," as well as "Social Media Marketing.

 See Its Time to Look Within to learn more

How to Humanize your Brand with Social Creation

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(Posted on Jan 31, 2014 at 03:57AM by William Cosgrove)


Traditionally, marketing has always been thought of as business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C). With social media in the mix, marketing is no longer so black and white. Marketing messages are getting lost in translation on Facebook, Google Plus and when cut to 140 characters on Twitter. The idea is that all this content has been optimized for consumer engagement, but in reality consumers can’t all be quantified down to statistics. Consumers want to be marketed to as individuals, not based on the general tendencies of their demographic.

 

Consumers are tired of content being fed to them. In turn, they are becoming content creators and user generated content (UGC) is on the rise. All visual platforms allow consumers to create their own product photos and fan videos. Essentially anyone with a cellphone can snap a photo or be a model. Social media and the rise of Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, enables businesses to connect with consumers on the individual level and for consumers to respond. With UGC, consumers are shaping and molding brands. Businesses are able to react and interact with consumers on a personalized level. It’s time to market H2H, human to human.
 

Humanize Your Brand
Away with B2B and B2C marketing, consumers are seeking a more personal connection with a brand on social media. Following a brand is more than expressing what you like, a consumer wants to be informed of the company culture, news, and product releases.

As the ease of information sharing increases, the consumers’ need to know more has also flourished. Companies have realized the way to satisfy consumers’ inquires is to be genuine and simple, qualities people want to see in friends, family, society, and now businesses. Companies are starting to change their social media strategies to a more humanized approach and social commerce is no different. eCommerce sites are jumping on the UGC bandwagon, integrating fan photos onsite with social curated galleries.
 

Social Curated Galleries
Create a social and visual site experience with live galleries filled with original images of real customer showcasing your products. Track these photos by using a unique and creative hashtag for your brand. Emphasize a specific product, event or create a general one for your brand as a whole. Display photos featuring this hashtag on your homepage to drive new product discovery or feature them on product pages for increased conversions.

Allowing your consumers to upload personal product photos will help other shoppers visualize your products in real life. Implementing a social curated gallery will allow consumers to see your products in the hands of people like them and in turn allowing them to relate to the product on a more personal level. This personal connection results in great conversions, social gallery participants have a 23% higher conversion rate than a regular consumer.
 

Increase social reach with Top Influencers
Not only will a social curated gallery humanize your brand, it will also spark incentive for consumers to take product photos and spread awareness via their social media networks. On top of being displayed on your site, the photos will be spread over consumers’ networks like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Recognize top influencers and trendsetters in featured galleries or take it to another level by turning it into a contest. This recognition will increase brand loyalty and drive consumer engagement. Shoppers that interact with social galleries discover, on average, 5 new products to which they express purchase intent for.

Content creation is an armed race, but every once in awhile, slow down and listen to what your consumers are saying. Use social curated galleries to see which products are trending, what consumers are sharing, and what they want more of.



By Alinn Louv

Does Early Adoption Of Brands Lead to Advocacy or Boredom

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(Posted on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:30AM by William Cosgrove)

The internet is now able to reach a broader and younger audience than the high street ever was, with 69% of people aged between 12 and 17 reported to have a computer, many of whom will be strongly influenced by the rippling effect of their friends on social media.

The latest Mobile Youth report revealed that 50% of young people recommend a brand because they have had a positive experience with it, and that 88% of all positive recommendations for a brand are generated by fans who make up 10% of the brand's customers.

Young people have such a grasp of technology that it's natural to them – it's a gateway to exploring their interests and sharing their lives. So they're brand-aware and tech-literate, but how do you stay cool today with a young person whose trends and tastes are so fickle? Having helped companies do this for over 20 years, here are my top five tips for better engaging the youth of today.

1 It's all about big data and small data

The more people use the internet, the more brands can potentially learn about the activity of their consumers – and the more they can tailor their offer to suit them. When it comes to brands, it's all about big data and small data: being able to gather as much data as possible and filter it in such a way that the information becomes meaningful and valuable, so that we can learn from interactions with our customers and make improvements in the ways we service them.

We need to use this data to create an age-appropriate online presence. Just as data feeds a more bespoke marketing approach, you need to break your targeting at different levels. Many classify tweens and teens in one large cluster, but there is a lot of emotional, social and physical growing in these years. What is right for an 11-year-old girl is different from that for a 13-year-old boy.

2 Be in association with…

Celebrities set the pace for staying on top of the latest fashions. Brands piggyback on these fashionistas to get to the consumer and convince them they, too, can get the look. Use them to boost your brand's youth appeal.

But, if you don't have easy access to Lady GaGa, take a brand of the moment to achieve the same effect. Your brand might be a massive juggernaut in terms of size and market share, but has lost its coolness. Link with another brand to bring it back. This is how the brand licensing market has got so powerful and you only have to look at brand associations for festivals such as Coachella (H&M, Heineken, Red Bull and Fruttare) to see how cool associations can sell products.

3 Create the right digital channels but also look at offline

As James Withey, head of brand insight at Precise, says: "Make everyday online encounters entertaining for kids. So the launch of a new quirky toy in a cereal box might be more successful in generating online word-of-mouth mentions than major product launches or ad campaigns."

If you want to reach out to a younger audience, you need to remember that they are still kids at heart and as such give them something entertaining to do, such as creating their own online avatar, which they can use to try out their own fashion tastes and share with their friends.

4 Move your brand with your core customer base

If your customer base is 13 years old and you find it is becoming younger, create a brand extension aimed at older teens that allows you to keep your existing customer base but gives those who might be tiring of it a new dimension to be interested in.

We all know Mark Zuckerberg and fellow students created Facebook as a social network for them while at Harvard. The latest statistics claim that there are now 1.06 billion monthly users, which means that, far from a communication medium for young people, it has become a mainstream tool for those wanting to communicate. In fact, 65% of Facebook users are over 35. However, where Facebook has been clever is by introducing instant messaging, which young people are more likely to use.

5 Give young people a voice and make sure it matters

Brands that really listen to their customers tend to be the ones their customers want to buy from. Social media means people are used to having a voice and using it from a young age. They are used to airing their opinions not only to their friends, but their friends' friends and all their followers. They expect those opinions to be taken seriously and are often happy to have their opinions out in the air to be debated and discussed.

Brands that ask for and use these opinions –which flavour of Walkers Crisps to launch or what name to choose for the latest X Factor band, for example – are the ones that bring discussion out of the brand arena and make customers brand ambassadors.

Early adoption means we need to be more savvy as brand guardians. As our target audiences become more sophisticated at a younger age, we need to stay one step ahead of them, understanding what they like and don't like and what they interact with.

Written byMax Eaglen

DealerNet Services

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