Learning how to use social media responsibly isn't just about avoiding these kinds of mistakes:
If used correctly, social media can help you build an army of loyal advocates that will go to bat for you when a negative event arises. Reputation-building loyalty strategies should be at the center of any social media training.
In the first pieces of this series, I looked at the concept of building loyalty via social media as the "golden ticket" to a good reputation. Today, we look at the five most used social media strategies and their value in building the kind of loyalty that produces a strong reputation. Using a very basic rating scale, each strategy has a subjective loyalty value assigned from zero to three. the value is strictly a measurement towards loyalty, not a measurement of their overall effectiveness.
1. Broadcast: This is a one-way channel. You talk and people (hopefully) listen. You offer nothing to your fans but the information that you want them to have. Your posts are basically news blasts. Even though this strategy is important, it shouldn't be the extent of your content. There is little or no loyalty return here because broadcasting is not a conversation.
Value in building loyalty: 0
2. Reach: Here, your main focus is on numbers: building fans, followers, likes, and shares. Your main goal is to increase your social graph (reach). There is nothing inherently wrong with this strategy either, but if you stop here your strategy is incomplete. The loyalty value is low because you are concentrating on building influence, not advocacy.
Value in building loyalty: .5
3. Conversation-Building: This is the first of the five models with real potential for building loyalty. Tactics-wise, you are hosting, facilitating, and participating in the conversations around your personal brand. You are consistent in responding to comments and fan posts, keeping in mind when your participation will add value and further the conversation, and not just thoughtlessly replying to everything people write. Remember, it's a conversation and sometimes you are just the moderator. Here is where you start forming relationships.
Value in building loyalty: +1
4. Crowdsourcing/Feedback: The next step up, building a crowdsourced community, takes more time than conversation-building. But there is also a higher reward, if done right. Asking for opinions or input is risky. You lose control over whatever process you are building. Instead, it now belongs to your community. But, this same invested community will go to bat for you when you need them. If you ask a question of your followers, expect an answer and a conversation.
Value in building loyalty: +2
5. Value-Adding: give nods and solve problems. This takes the longest time to build, but has the highest reward. It requires an active presence on social media and a core belief that you are there to give fans useful information - it's not about you. As Jay Baer says in the book Youtility, it's about giving them the marketing they want. A helpful mindset is a requirement, and listening is a must. You'll have to be present to pull this off.
Give nods: You may want to acknowledge and thank fans who give you compliments and support. Don't overdo and look cheesy or promotional. Be careful of constantly stroking yourself or promoting your achievements. People have a low tolerance for horn-tooters. If you are an athlete or coach, this is where you promote your teammates, other teams' accomplishments, and talk about what the other sports at your school are doing.
Solve problems: Your fans have questions and needs - do you have answers? When you cultivate this kind of relationship, your fans are looking to you for information that will help them, not just entertain them. You have made a conscious decision that you are on social media for the benefit of others. And they will respond with their loyalty. The key to remember here is giving information that other people need, not what you want them to have.
Value in building loyalty: +3
A special note for athletics: The Catalyst Digital Fan Engagement study showed that fans are more interested in bypassing brands and connecting directly with the athletes. It's more important now than ever to teach athletes loyalty strategies in social media training to build loyalty for their personal brands and their university's brand. Developing student-athletes that know how to use social media well can be a fast track to loyalty and a cushion against negative reputation events.
This piece is an excerpt from my book Practice Safe Social: How To Use Social Media Responsibly to Protect Reputation And Build Loyalty, available here on Amazon.