All brands would ultimately love to have an army of fans, advocating their products and services, loyal to the death, so to speak. Why? Well, brand advocates are two to three times more effective at swaying newbies to buy a product. You see, it’s their passion and persuasiveness that influences purchasers, possibly because they spend twice as much on their favourite brands than non-advocates. ‘They walk the talk’, they are living, breathing, advertisements for your products and services — and they’re voluntary, so you don’t even have to pay a salary. Bonus!
Brand advocates leave positive reviews about your brand; it’s almost as if they can’t help themselves from speaking about you; it’s all about trust and a sense that you add value to their interactions with your brand. They feel all warm and fuzzy when they mention you, its’ like commercial serotonin. And, it’s a fact, people are more likely to buy when something, a product or service is referred by a friend.
It’s estimated that about 92% of customers seek social recommendations before purchasing, making advocates and influencers a powerful and very necessary part of your marketing strategy, becoming an essential part of the revered ‘marketer’s toolbox’.
Research shows that the average social media user is connected to 400+ friends and family, meaning that, for every passionate, loyal brand advocate you have waxing evangelical about your content, that same content has the potential to reach at least 600 people – not to mention the friends and families of those individuals. As your advocate numbers increase, so too does your potential organic reach. The challenge here is, as your advocacy program scales up, it’s inevitable that an increase in time and energy to manage your advocacy program also increases. That’s the reason that many brands manage their advocacy marketing program through an advocacy marketing platform, such as ByDesign.
But how do you measure your advocacy marketing? Well, it includes a multi-pronged approach, but first you must set a goal, else how will you determine if your campaign is a success? For example, a large multi-location retailer will require a different advocacy marketing campaign than say, a small e-commerce shop.
So, you need to know what you want to achieve; it must be measurable and realistic and aligned to your greater company objectives. Give yourself a timeframe in which to achieve the goal. For example, increasing your Twitter mentions by xx over xx months.
In addition, like any campaign, you need to identify your advocates because, contrary to popular belief, not everyone who follows your business on social media has the makings of an advocate. The Harvard Business Review published a study that found likes, shares, and engagement are not reliable means of predicting action or behaviour, on any level.
The motherlode is when people engage with your brand, people who offer feedback, and who freely mention your products or services, lauding you, using their own language, rather than simply regurgitating something from your marketing team.
People engage with brands for a range of reasons. A co-authored study from social@Ogilvy and SurveyMonkey, revealed that advocates and influencers supported or liked brands on social media principally to gain info about their products, offers, or news, but also, interestingly, to be heard, to be able to give direct feedback and hey, even to be entertained.
Basically, to build a strong brand advocacy program, engage with interested parties that are already engaging with you. Part of that is making them feel ‘special’ and even better, foster a feeling of ‘elitism’, that great ego-booster. Make them a part of something unique — only for them and their ilk — show them they’re valued and appreciated. And, all the while, never stop listening to what the ones you already have, are saying.