Why Personal Advocacy In Social Media Works!

personal advocacy in social mediaFor many small businesses out there making their first social media profile it is often assumed that they should tweet or update on Facebook under the company brand name. Whilst there are some advantages to this, I think that social media is designed to open up a more direct one to one connection between your brand and customers.

To me interacting with most company social media profiles is like talking to their PR team (who often run the profiles!). Always polished, never human. In this article I will explain why I think a company should use personal advocates (i.e employees and customers) as their social media representatives.

Direct One to One Connection

To illustrate my point, I want to talk to you about a shoe company based in Henderson, Nevada, named Zappos. They are the perfect example of a company who embraces the immediacy and transparency of social media. On their Twitter page they include all public mentions of the Zappos brand (good and bad!) and tweets from the Zappos employees.

If that scares you, you better get used to it. This data is out there whether you like it or not. Your job is to LISTEN! Of course, behind every action is a consequence. So, be sure to create real clear guidelines for employees who are representing your brand. But, at the same time, don’t limit them.

People buy from individuals they like and trust. By opening the door to customers to come and have an e-chat with your employees, it shows you really care about giving the customer the full picture of how your company functions.I think those who set up the faceless company profiles are missing out on the genuine one to one connection that can be built through using personal advocacy. It’s certainly not to say that company profiles don’t work at all.

Official Corporate Social Media Profiles

Starbucks, Comcast and Southwest Airlines are great examples of companies who use their official corporate social media profiles to help answer questions and provide updates to their networks. As I wrote in a previous guest article for Kherize5 about How 4 Technology Start-Ups Make Use of Twitter,  company profiles always need to include a human element to them. I’d recommend you take a look at how @VodafoneUK includes the employees initials at the end of each tweet, this is a great way to identify the person behind the tweet.

The only point I must stress you consider carefully is how you want your social media presence to function. Personally, I would never recommend attaching your Twitter or Facebook accounts to your blog and simply spewing out links to how great you are all day long. It’s all about providing the value to your network and adding a caring, human element to those updates. Let people in to learn about know who you are.

Remember, people will buy more from those they like or trust.

Do you agree that a network should be built by personal advocates (internal or external?) or do you think that we should represent our brand on social media profiles with a more one-dimensional professional tone?

About the Author:

Josh Chandler, age 19, is a Virtual Assistant , Blogger and Video Podcaster. Making his start on the web at age 16, he produced interviews with Top Web Entrepreneurs and first time Startup owners. He has a strong passion for marketing, technology and the web.

photo credit: viewmy.tv

  • I definitely agree — without a human connection, it’s very hard to create conversation and community behind a brand. Another nice tip is to add individual Twitter accounts to the company’s Twitter account bio area. For example, “@—- and @—- are the minds behind this account.” Further mentions of this throughout the Twitter stream could also add to the human-ness behind the account, helping create more conversation.

    • Marcella,

      Yes, I agree. The use of @usernames on the bio area is great. Visitors only spend a split second on each Twitter profile deciding whether this is the right person for their needs. If there is a name attached, plus a great friendly photo of them, it builds emotional currency.

      Although with #newtwitter, the Twitter backgrounds don’t appear to be seen as easily now.

      Still, what a great point Marcella. Thanks so much for your comment. 🙂

  • I agree on all the line. People relate not to brands, but to the people behind them. My personal strategy while managing the social media presence of my company has been to operate two accounts on Twitter, my own personal one and a corporate one, with the company logo, but with the human touch of *me* behind it. No auto spam from my blog, just an effort to build relationships, always.

    • Gabriele,

      By keeping that focus on relationship building, you are going to build more sustainable brand equity with your customers.

      As long as you don’t exploit these relationships and try selling 24/7, you will be fine.

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • These kinds of posts are what make you great. Well researched, great point. Well explained. Great stuff!

    • Marjorie,

      Wow, thank you! I am just a hugely passionate guy who loves to talk marketing – I am nothing special or “great”.

      Thank you so much again for taking the time to read this post and leave a comment. 🙂

  • Josh,

    This is the hardest thing to make a small business owner realize. Eventhough they are small the forget that one of there competitive advantages can actually be getting closer on a personal level.

    In the environment I run around people need to see you physically to make a sale or establish a real relationship. It is very difficult for me to not be personal because it would not get me anywhere.

    Good post! We need to keep on sending the message on the importance of Personal Advocacy.