People today are spending a vast majority of their time online, specially in social networking and microblogging sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
This fact, has made social media a new and effective marketing channel for brands and companies.
But more than traditional advertising, businesses should realize that the social web can also be used as a platform for viral marketing if you can convert your consumers to become brand advocates.
Viral marketing? Brand advocates? What do these mean?
Let me tell you a story which happened last week in Plurk, a microblogging site where most Philippine-based bloggers hang out.
Alan (aka Billycoyful) asked his social network:
It was just an ordinary question, born out of curiosity. He got several answers… one of them, came from Fritz (don’t get confused, that’s not me).
That answer influenced Alan to seek out and buy Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich. Several days after, he posted this photo on his Plurk timeline:
And not only that, he began to rave intensely and repeatedly about it – which naturally triggered the curiosity of his social network.
One by one, his friends began buying Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich themselves, and likewise posted their own “self-portraits”. From being consumers, they were becoming brand advocates.
To make the long story short, Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich has gone viral within the Philippine blogging community – I encourage you to check out this post by Kring to see the proof or just click the photo below:
You may not know the people in the photo, but they are some of the most influential people in the Philippine blogosphere – a few are even bloggers from Cebu, Davao and other provinces.
Moreover, they’re not only bloggers – some are corporate social media managers, mobile marketers and online celebrities.
And I know that there are a lot of other people who bought and tried Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich who weren’t included in that epic grid.
How do you convert your consumers into brand advocates?
First and foremost – you need to have a quality product. Without this, there will be no inspiration and motivation to share and recommend your brand.
This requirement alone is often enough to convert your consumers into evangelists. It’s important to note that Alan, Fritz and all of the “Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich bloggers” were not paid nor contacted by the manufacturer to promote the product.
Second, you can employ the help of influencers to evangelize your consumers into becoming brand advocates.
Influencers can either be:
- Celebrities who will work as your brand endorser on a massive scale – quite expensive but with a wider reach;
- Or alpha-status individuals who will influence peers on a more personal level – more cost-effective but has a smaller reach.
Lastly, provide your brand advocates a venue where they can regularly converge and connect with consumers and each other.
This can be a physical place, such as a restaurant, a coffee shop, or wherever. But it can also be social media hangout such as a blog, a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, or in the case of Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich – Plurk.
The first two will initiate the process of conversion, but it is mostly inside the social venue (physical or virtual) where “new recruits” are evangelized, and existing brand advocates replenish their energy.
With more and more people getting connected through the internet, social media has started to play a big role in marketing.
And thus, one question remains now…
Have you tried Hansel Premium Cheese Sandwich? 😀
- Social Media Marketing: Establishing Your Business on the Social Web
- Alex Ohanian: How To Make a Splash in Social Media
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