It is largely more valuable for brands to invest in loyal brand supporters or “Jedi” rather than a large audience who turn out to be weak in their brand advocating. Results from campaigns are driven more by the few dedicated audiences rather than the masses. This is why it is important as marketers to know how to use your brand “Jedi” to your best advantage.
To me, ‘dark social’ is a new term about a concept us students know all too well. It is the social sharing zone that is hard to track including everything from sharing links through email or word of mouth via online chat. To marketers, this is extremely valuable because it is free promotion for the brand through people who are doing the promoting because they actually support what the brand is about. This leads to results and data directly from the public that can be used to make the brand better.
Nowadays, marketers need to go further than using online ads and cookies to identify target audiences. Smart targeting is why activity over various social channels are monitored to study behaviors of audiences. Algorithms can be used to suggest friends to the target audiences in which they can share brand material based on location and interests. This way, marketers can not only target the brand’s Jedi but the friends of these Jedi who are prospects as well.
It is vital for marketers to not only find and research their Jedi but empower them to continue in their behavior in order to retain that loyal audience. Encouraging both light engagement, such as sharing or liking a post, and heavy engagement, like writing reviews, generate both volume while identifying the most loyal Jedi of the brand. An interesting bridge from the political to commercial sectors is the use of downloadable talking points, ie, printable car decals or flyers for events. These have been successful in getting Jedi to not only interact with the brand by downloading but starting conversations and chatter with people off the internet. Furthermore, these downloads are trackable and help monitor engagement and measure participation which can then tell the marketer if the tactics are working.
Finally, keep the Jedi coming back! Keep it short and simple and acknowledge their participation with exclusive benefits, coupons and access to exclusive groups that encourages them to review thoughtfully and communicate with other Jedi. This is called a positive feedback loop that allows a place for good word to generate for the brand.
It is more efficient to invest in a strong community rather than acquire a mass audience that will flake out. With advancing technology in the world of communication, now is the time for marketers to reevaluate how their followers are engaged to get the full potential out of dark social.