Use of super-fans, community advocates low despite proven benefits

A study of branded online communities by ComBlu (via marketing charts) shows that organisations are deploying bells and whistles rich media within online communities, but are increasingly ignoring the human aspect – using advocates and so-called ‘super fans’ to make sure the message gets heard.

Over 90% of branded communities feature a funnel of ‘new’ content – i.e. almost every brand has some kind of system in place to get material out to the community, while 80% deploy media rich content.

However, less than half of brands surveyed now have a community manager to look after those communities, with the % dropping from 51% to 48% over the past year.    One would have to wonder why – whether its a sign of budget cuts or a community job being subsumed into a wider marketing function.

Not only that, ComBlu points out that the use of advocates (normally marshaled via a company super fan programme) in online branded communities is very low – at 20%.    ComBlu points out that this is a huge missed opportunity for brands as advocates who will fight a brand’s corner out of their own good will are

  • 70% more likely to be seen as a reliable source of information (they don’t directly work for you per se)
  • Increase conversions by 166% through content amplification and referrals
  • Reduce the cost of overall product support by 60% – they effectively do a lot of it for you
  • Are 50% more likely to create content that influences a purchase
  • Are 83% more likely to share information

ComBlu says super-fans are “the core of engagement and help bring others into the brand fold” – wise words.

Over eight in ten branded communities have integration with other social media assets, it’s surprising that 20% don’t.

However, ComBlu points out that in many cases this is nothing more than streaming Twitter feeds and Facebook posts onto community sites – but few bothering with other feeds such as YouTube, Foursquare, LinkedIn or Slideshare.

In contrast to a one size fits all approach, research by Edgerank shows that certainly when it comes to Facebook, smaller, niche communities show much higher engagement levels

Enhanced by Zemanta