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I led a conference panel on "Fan Tools" at the Inbound Marketing Summit in San Francisco this summer. On my team of social media marketing experts was Adam Wright of Fanzy. Fanzy works with organizations to reward top consumers for amplifying brand awareness, turning top fan influencers into evangelists.  

In working with thousands of brands, Fanzy has identified four essentials of influencer engagement best practices for driving the best ROI from social media marketing. 

The Fanzy Four

1. Don't Rely on Social Media Posting Alone

Years ago Facebook introduced an algorithm called EdgeRank to determine what appears in your Facebook news feed. There's too much content out there, so Facebook picks and chooses what you'll see. Edge Rank is a combination of three factors: Affinity, Edge Weight and Freshness

But just recently the rules changed. Well, Facebook changed their algorithm to be more precise and little is known about what specific replacements are working behind the scenes. One publication went as far to declare Facebook's Edgerank “dead”. According to Lars Backstrom, Engineering Manager of News Feed, the elements of the old Edgerank are “still important.” He goes on to say that old factors such as affinity have been expanded upon: “There are now categories and sub-categories of affinity.”

Regardless of formulaic changes, the key to brand marketing success on Facebook is to do more than rely on content posting alone. Taking advantage of what is known is critical for increasing brand visibility. Because 96 percent of fans don’t go back to a brand’s page after initial engagement, you showing up on Facebook's News Feed is the only reliable way for fans to see your brand's posts. 40 percent of the time people spend on Facebook is on their News Feed. If you want to go where the people are, News Feed is the place to be. 

As a business, you're not reaching your social fans nearly as often as you think you are and the way to change that is to cultivate, encourage, and reward your most influential social fans who help spread the word about your brand with their large circle of friends. You need to know who they are, how to motivate them, and manage them like a little army.

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By building an army of power fans who are ready, willing and able to get your message out is the key to successfully marketing on the world's largest social playground. This "friend to friend" marketing can be, and as Fanzy explains, often is the difference between your brand's social marketing success or failure. 

2. Don't  Anticipate Your Customers Will Socially Share about You without  Rewards

It's impossible to have an effective content/inbound marketing strategy without rewarding your customers, and turning them into fans. Not that your social presence won't grow, it just won't quantum leap over your competition like a fully managed fan engagement system.

According to eMarketer58% of Facebook users “Like” brands on Facebook because they anticipate access to exclusive content, discounts, or brand promotions. Give social fans exactly the types of content, discounts, and promotions they want and incentivize them to get these rewards when they generate engagement from likes, comments and retweets from their existing social networks.

Fanzy shared a recent case study, and how the ROI can be staggering. 

Global electronic music brand Tiesto with over 10 million likes on his Facebook Page used Fanzy in connection with an album release.  In addition to music downloads and other rewards for Fanzy fans, Tiesto agreed to fly to the home town of the #1 Fanzy fan at the conclusion of the month to play a private show. 

In one month, the Fanzy campaign generated approximately 40,000 posts to FB including Tiesto's marketing content, 183,000 comments on those posts, 288,000 likes, 23,000 tweets and 175,000 retweets of those tweets.  When compared to an average month of engagement prior to launching with the tool, Fanzy fans increased Tiesto's Facebook reach and amplification by over 590% in FB likes and 2,410% in FB comments.

 

3. Don't Expect to Show Up in Facebook's Graph Search Unless Your Content's Hot 

You can no longer just throw up fluff and hope it sticks, because people won't find it. Users can now search Facebook with the powerful new Graph Search.  Graph Search lets users search for things like “photos of new phones,” or “the best places to eat Chinese food in Dallas.”

Like any search engine, you want your content to rank high. To do that, it needs to be content that consistently gets high engagement in the form of likes, comments and shares. What HubSpot calls "remarkable" content. Stuff that causes people to take action.

The guys at Fanzy are big fans of Mari Smith who said: "Content is King, but Engagement is Queen, and she rules the house."

Engagement is Queen and it's the difference in your brand being noticed in the world of social influence. Good content paired with good fans gives your brand high visibility with social media users. The way to make your content really hot is by generating the type of engagement Facebook values. Including first, second and third generation likes, comments and shares.


4. Don't Ignore Your Fan-base and Influencers

Big name companies are aggressively giving fans discounts, empowering them to support causes, and providing them with exclusive content and information all to reward them. For example, Pepsi's latest weapon is the "Like Machine," which dispenses on-the-spot soft drinks to fans who "Like" the brand on Facebook.

They're doing this for two reasons:

  1. Good fans are too valuable to lose
  2. Because it works

Engage your fans for the same reasons. Reward them for generating engagement on video and photo shares, inviting friends to join, sharing links, cross-polinating to other social networks like Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.