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Converting Followers to Activists

Ask a marketer how they are doing on the social media front and you are likely to get a long list of data points. Many of these centered on followers. You’ll hear comments like – “Oh we rock on Twitter, like XXX gazillion people are following us”. Or, “our Facebook community is amazing, XX have joined”.

The question is, how many of these people are real activists vs, ‘slactavists’. Now, I’m defining slactavists pretty liberally here. I’m speaking about the large number of people that with the convenience of a mouse click join or subscribe and rarely, if ever, engage. They might not even follow. Really.

I’ve seen this more extreme term — slactivists – popping up more. They are the folks that join, subscribe, friend only to do little or nothing. Sure, you have permission to market to them. But can you convert them into active followers or better still, activists – people engaged in your brand.

The issue for marketers is balancing this small army out with activists. People who will activate demand, interest, and excitement. There are a couple of keys:

  1. Relate to causes. At Dell we learnt this through our ReGeneration project. We gave our followers a chance to get express themselves on all things green. The key here is that the reason they join might not be the reason they move to being an activist.  You need to work hard to figure out what really motivates your communities – and then become a source of insight and information
  2. Give them a platform and vehicle to get engaged. Ideastorm is our vehicle for doing this. As are our communities. But don’t understimate the ability of left-field ideas to drive engagement. We learnt this through our project with Grafiti on Facebook where thousands drew images of what green meant to them and tens of thousands voted. We achieved amazing engagement by allowing people to express themselves in a non written way – and at almost no cost to us.
  3. Make everything social. Social isn’t a point strategy that can be confined to a discrete project. Everything, internal and external needs to be be made social. Transparency doesn’t just breed accountability, it also drives engagement.

Every marketing effort will need to look at drawing a line between slactavists and activists. Building the base of slactivists will be important – converting them to activists will be even more important.

One Response

  1. By Tom O’Brien on July 12th, 2010 at 8:57 am


    If you really want to turn your fans (people who like you) into Advocates (people you recommend to others) you have to understand what makes them tick. Research into underlying motivations and drivers to reveal what specific competitive advantage your brand has vs. direct competitors through the eyes of your advocates.

    They you know what buttons to push. It’s more like politics these days.

    Tom O’Brien
    MotiveQuest LLC

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