Transitioning Brand Followers to Brand Advocates

Remember BBS (Black Board Systems) from the 1980’s and 1990’s? How about AOL (America Online) with its member profiles and AIM chat system? Maybe you don’t, but they were once taking the world by storm and many believe these systems were precursors to modern social networking sites. These sites have a lot in common with the newer players—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr—they focused on the user.

The evolution of social media
Over the past decade Facebook has grown from a college/university connection site, only open to students, to a worldwide social network. Twitter was created as an online SMS service to small groups, but expanded into a global site for people to share articles, photos and more. As expected, advertising programs have been developed for some social networks to capitalize on their popularity and reach. Social platforms now influence consumers, where they are, when they want, in more ways than anyone anticipated.

Harnessing the power of social media
People share status updates, tweet articles and pin recipes because they find value in what they’re sharing and believe others will too. As an education provider, social media is an ideal outlet for prospective students to learn about your brand and when done properly, it can be used to influence others.

  • Who has liked your Facebook page or follows you on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms? These people can be classified as brand followers—they find your content valuable and may occasionally read or share your information with their friends, but are not willing to align with your school.
  • Who continuously shares information, retweets your articles, comments on posts, etc.? These are your brand advocates—they trust your brand and want others to also. They’re willing to put their name on the line for your school because they truly believe in your message and what you stand for.


Increasing your reach
When brand advocates share, they don’t just become someone who shares content—they become people who influence what’s appearing in your prospects Facebook news feed or highlighted as a top story on LinkedIn. When they share, it increases your brand reach. The more viral you are, the more likely your school will be found because when posts, tweets and videos are shared, search engines and social media sites recognize the content as accurate. Social media isn’t about the number of likes, followers or subscribers—it’s about being engaging. The more engaging the content, the more likely people will come back for more and continue to share.

Don’t ignore brand followers
Brand followers have demonstrated interest in your school—they’re just not ready to make a commitment. Sharing content directed towards these prospective brand advocates is extremely important. They may be more engaged on a particular channel over another, but like to see different messages and a consistent posting from you. Connect with these people to transition them from a brand follower to a brand advocate.

Content is king
To move a brand follower to a brand advocate, you can ask questions on your social media accounts to first identify what type of information best resonates with your prospective students, current students, faculty and alumni. Test the type of content that your fan base finds relevant. If they’re not sharing, they’re not finding your content engaging enough.

The information you collect about both brand followers and brand advocates can be useful in building and refining your prospective student, current student and successful alumni personas. Once adjusted, you’ll be able to target a larger reach of people matching these demographics and psychographics through various media platforms, including advertising within social networks.

How are you using social media now and how can you elevate your brand to harness the power of social media?
Contact Comply today regarding social media opportunities unique to you.


About the Author

TOM ROBERTON—Vice President of Marketing and founding partner responsible for business development, integrated account planning, marketing and media strategies.

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