Leveraging Loyalists for Social Media Benefit

When building a social media strategy, it’s important to utilize your most loyal followers to build your overall social media presence. By identifying these loyalists, categorizing them, and reaching out for favors, your business can foster mutually beneficial relationships for social media gains.

When building a social media strategy, it’s important to utilize your most loyal followers to build your overall social media presence. By identifying these loyalists, categorizing them, and reaching out for favors, your business can foster mutually beneficial relationships for social media gains.

One thing that is often forgotten when implementing a social media strategy is that social media is a two-way street. Too often, we’re so focused on promoting ourselves that we forget to build relationships. This trap is understandable – we want to create buzz about our brand online, and more importantly, we want to be in control over those conversations and how they’re initiated.

But instead of getting wrapped up in self-promotion, it’s important to take a step back and evaluate the resources you’ve already garnered. One of your most overlooked assets is your legion of loyal followers. Why not let these enamored individuals help achieve your social media goals for you?

Leveraging your loyalists is easy to do and provides huge results. You just have to know who your social loyalists are, determine their level of engagement, and decide how to best utilize these relationships for mutual benefit.

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Identifying your social media loyalists

The first step in utilizing loyalists is to figure out who they are. Fortunately, this is pretty easy and you’ve likely already identified them anecdotally. Log in to your social channels, be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. and scroll through all the positive comments, likes, retweets and mentions of your business. You’ll quickly be able to see which of your followers are the most participative.

If it helps, write down their names/handles and place tally marks for the number of times they’ve positively mentioned you. For future purposes, it’s helpful to create a library of these people and their mentions in a spreadsheet. You can reference these documents later when you need help from these social followers.

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Determining their level of loyalty

Once you have your list of loyalists, the next step is to determine how engaged they are and what actions they can best help with. There are two broad categories you can use for loyalist segmentation: the interested participant and the engaged partner.

Members of the interested participant group tend to leave general comments on your blog, like your Facebook posts, or provide you with retweets. These people like your brand and look forward to what you have to say via social media. In other words, they want to share your stuff because they like your stuff. This is a good thing.
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Interested participants can:

  • Help spread your message and content across the web via sharing.
  • Encourage others to participate in your channels – by leaving that first comment, others feel less intimidated in joining a social conversation.
  • Provide genuine feedback – these customers feel emotionally tied to your product/brand and want to help you make it better.

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Engaged partners, on the other hand, have a more important stake in your overall social media strategy. These loyalists provide each of the bullets listed above, but take it to the next level. Engaged partners have an even stronger affinity for your brand and possibly have a stake in your success. For example, if you have a member of your affiliate program or a partner with a complementary product, they’re likely to sing your praises more than an ordinary customer. Since their level of interest is higher, engaged partners provide additional benefits to your social media presence.

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Engaged partners can:

  • Offer an objective retaliation to someone else’s negative comment or review.
  • Serve as a reference or provide a recommendation to someone else interested in your product or industry.
  • Supply assistance in other promotional opportunities outside of social media.

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Clearly, categorizing your social loyalists into one of these two categories allows you to make more effective decisions in receiving their assistance for various initiatives.

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Making the most of your loyalists

Now that you know what your loyalists can do for you, it’s time to actually make it happen. First, it’s critical that you’re confident in your relationship with these loyalists and they’re comfortable with you personally reaching out to them.

The best way to foster these relationships is to proactively give them what you want in return. This means that you should start retweeting their content, commenting on their blogs, liking their status, etc. If these loyalists see that you’re interested in their success, they’ll be much more willing to help. (Notice how this in no different from normal, face-to-face relationships.)

And when you do need one of your loyalists to help you out, make sure to let them know there’s incentive involved. Here are a few easy tactics to get them on board:

  • Make sure to direct message them and personally identify yourself.  This provides a more personal connection and makes asking a favor more intimate.
  • Let your loyalist of choice know that you’ll return the favor. If you’re asking for a recommendation, tell them that you’ll provide one too. If you’re requesting them to retweet one of your blog posts, make sure to do the same when they ask.
  • Give them a piece of the pie. One of the best ways to turn loyalists into engaged partners is to compensate them for their assistance. Thus, including them in any affiliate or partner programs gives them a vested interest in helping your business succeed.

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The main takeaway here is to never be afraid to ask. If you just sit there and wait for others to do the work for you, expect to be twiddling your thumbs for a long time. Social media is just like life – you’ll never know unless you ask.
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Happy selling!
-Matt Winn, Marketing Associate

About 

Matt Winn is Volusion’s Senior Brand Manager, where he helps oversee the organization’s branding and communications efforts. Matt has created hundreds of articles, videos and seminars on all things ecommerce, ranging from online marketing to web design and customer experience. Beyond being a certified nerd, Matt is an avid college football fan, enthusiastic home cook and a self-admitted reality TV junkie.

One Response to “Leveraging Loyalists for Social Media Benefit”

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