Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Have you forgotten the home crowd in looking for social engagement?

Any pro sports team knows about the home crowd advantage: Your near and dear local fans will show up week after week, get more engaged, and cheer the loudest. They'll stand by you on the bad days and celebrate the good days. They'll buy and wear your merch, stand in line for your tickets, and bring their friends along. More often than not, all of that adds up to better scores and more wins.

And if that doesn't sound like a good social media strategy, I don't know what does.

Yet so many companies and organizations forget to involve and engage their own "home crowds" in their social media efforts, from members and residents to employees, former employees, and alumni.

There's good data to show the advantages of involving the home crowd in your social media strategy. This article, Avoiding articles from “the creep”: People trust news based on who shared it, not on who published it, shares a recent study that:
...found that a trusted sharer resulted in more trust for the article and more engagement with the original news — including re-sharing the article and signing up for news alerts from the source. Furthermore, the sharer of the article affected how people thought about multiple facets of the article: 'When people see news from a person they trust, they are more likely to think it got the facts right, contains diverse points of view, and is well reported than if the same article is shared by someone they are skeptical of.' (A respondent told the researchers in 2016: 'I look who shared it. If I have a friend that’s a creep I might not believe it. If a friend is in a certain field, then I might believe what they post.')
This study focused on adults, but mirrors results from research on teenagers, who more often trusted posts from family members and teachers, both good home crowds to cultivate.

Many companies and organizations seek to limit their employees' use of social media, maybe the most obvious way to ignore the power of the home crowd. But it's your employee home crowd that can help revive your stagnant organic social reach. How employee advocacy can help your declining social reach makes it simple to understand:
If you open up your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter company pages, how many followers do you have in total? Now try to add up the number of connections your employees have all together across the same networks. The result will astound you. On average, your employees are connected to 10 times more people than your company alone. 
Just 15 percent of people trust brands, but 84 percent trust people they know, the article notes, adding that content shared by employees generates 8 times more engagement than content shared by the company channel. As you would with any other group of influencers, you'd be smart to brief employees about opportunities for them to share and advocate for your brand, organization, or company on social media. Don't assume they know you'd like them to share.

Even more untapped as a home crowd are your alumni, who have great potential as social sharers in your behalf. I don't just mean graduates of your university. I mean former participants in your fellowship program, former employees, retirees, and more. In many cases, that's an even bigger base than your employee base. This 2008 article about Hewlett-Packard's efforts to engage its former employees should give you some ideas, all easily translated to social media. You might consider briefings for your "formers" and alumni to brief them on your social media strategy and tell them about the tools you have that would make it easy for them to share your content; you might consider a monthly or biweekly email newsletter just for such a purpose.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Kent Kanouse)

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