By Jim DeGood, Director of Client Services
I had the pleasure of working with a client earlier this autumn that gets so many things right. They use data to make decisions and regularly engage in passionate discussions around what data may or may not indicate. They are highly segmented and customized in their approach to building the loyalty of their patrons across every dimension of their organization.
This client wanted to move more resources to digital, and in particular, to social media. In addition to studying some utilization trends for them, I also reviewed their actual content. It was… Well, it was not up to this organization’s typical high standards. Their current social media strategy was all about them. It shouldn’t be.
It was all about them… and not about asking them to join.
The immediate takeaway I had after reviewing this organization’s content was that it was highly brand-focused. The overwhelming majority of content highlighted the company’s vast body of work. It was like a walking through their photo archive. I had no sense of what was happening at the company today, promotional messages were sparse, and there were only a few posts that went more deeply into the lives of the artists creating work (these were rich and wonderful, by the way). But after this social media tour, I felt hollow. The content didn’t invite me to connect. I was left thinking “this company has showed me how important they are, but they never asked me to join them.” How many of your followers think the same?
How engagement and loyalty correlate
We overlaid this company’s social media content with the results from their Patron Loyalty Index (PLI), and the results were immediately illuminating. Here is what we saw:
· Overall Engagement: Only a small proportion of the total fanbase was engaged at all.
- As a baseline, Facebook Barometer reports that a 4.8% is the average fan engagement rate with content; this client’s overall engagement rate was 3%.
· Designation of Fans/followers: Fans/followers were easily sorted into two groups: those who infrequently engage in content and those who engage regularly.
- The top 10% of fans engaged with content 9x more often than the rest of fans.
- More loyalists to the organization appeared in this top 10%, and engagement rates were astronomically higher within this group; sometimes by a factor of 4.
· Type of Engaging Content: Fans/followers who engaged with content and appeared in the PLI found generic, brand-oriented content to be much less appealing. Content that was Personal, Promotional, or had a Preview element garnered much more interaction (see chart below).
- Even organization-specific content highlighting educational programs was more engaging to these loyalists.
Be social. Value loyalty. Put loyalty at the center of your content development plans.
How can you take the first step in evaluating how your content is building loyalty? Here are five touchpoints to keep in mind:
1. Know your overall engagement rate.
Is it growing as your fanbase grows? If your content is compelling and inspires your fans to amplify your posts, you will be able to move this metric.
2. Know your fans.
First strip out staff and artists. The remaining fans engaging with your content are your true loyalists. Even without a Patron Loyalty Index, you’ll have a greater proportion of “Buyers” and “Advocates” in this cohort.
Engage with the most engaged.
Study which content those loyalists engage with – especially those that inspire higher Amplification and Conversation rates. When loyalists comment, respond. Create mechanisms that encourage and reward loyalists when they amplify your content.
Develop content that creates new loyalists.
For those that are engaging less frequently, don’t serve up more passive content meant to simply be consumed. Ask for engagement. Ask fans to show you how they are celebrating National Dance/Theatre/Opera Day. Ask fans to reflect on their favorite memory at your venue. Ask artists and fans to comment on news of the day. (Who among you leveraged the Cynthia Nixon bagel outrage for your own social media benefit?)
5. Measure, monitor, refine.
As with all programs, it’s important to measure content engagement. Set goals for improvement and measure those as well. Regularly create an environment in which you’re refining your content calendar to actively build relationships with your audience, and between your audience and your art. Understand what works and what doesn’t.
By following these steps, you will better align your social content with your loyalty building strategy.