I had an interesting conversation with a digital marketing executive earlier this week. During the conversation she mentioned how she envisioned social engagement as a pyramid of sorts, with mainstream media entities at the top, social influencers in the middle and individual brand ambassadors at the bottom.
“Media” refers to traditional media outlets and personalities. Anything from a broadcast television channel to a print publication to a celebrity.
“Social influencers” refers to influential websites or personalities in the social media space. Anything from a blogger to a discussion forum to a Twitter profile.
“Brand ambassadors” refers to an individual consumer that is willing to express their thoughts on a particular brand. That could be me or you or anyone else for that matter.
This particular executive that I was speaking with manages digital marketing for an enterprise-level brand, so the conversation focused on how many such brands do a fairly good job of tapping into the top of the pyramid. In other words, their PR relationships and advertising partnerships afford them the ability to access major media outlets and celebrities in a manner that can facilitate mass-market social media engagement. Big brands have also been successfully cultivating and engaging with brand ambassadors via traditional CRM methods and channels (e.g. call center communications and email messaging) as well as social profiles that often have a massive following. It’s that middle section – the social influencers – that has often proven to be an area of difficulty, typically because of the manual and ongoing efforts required to identify said influencers and then build meaningful rapport.
That, in my opinion, is the situation that most Fortune 500 caliber brands find themselves in with regards to social media engagement.
Interestingly, I find that the small to medium-sized business is usually suffering from opposite problem. Namely:
- They completely fail to leverage mainstream media in any way
- They fail to use email and other CRM channels to engage and “turn on” potential brand ambassadors
I myself am guilty of this in that I have never attempted to get a mention in a mainstream publication, an appearance on a television program, or any other form of mainstream media engagement. And I know that I’m not alone.
As for turning on potential brand ambassadors, I know from experience that even small, local establishments can use CRM and social profiles to facilitate the transformation from regular old customer to full-blown social brand ambassador. And yet, I seem to be constantly confronted with business owners that have failed to leverage this methodology to cultivate and benefit from the potential brand ambassadors in their midst.
Regardless of the size of the business you work for, ask yourself if you’re fully leveraging the social media engagement hierarchy. And if you’re not, get to work on filling the gaps.