Having a pool of brand advocates on social media can prove to be better than having an influencer who would not just charge you a lot for their influence, but will also end up being a onetime affair. What most brands fail to identify is the benefit of acknowledging brand advocates and investing in them through a particularly strategized approach.
Who are your Brand Advocates?
These are a group of people/individuals who are impressed by your product/service and voluntarily markets your brand. They are often mentioning your brand name in their posts on social media, sharing your content and referring their friends to try your brand and they are doing it all for free! Advertising has a theory that any form of publicity is good for a brand, never mind whether it is good or bad. If this is true, then advocate marketing is definitely an add on for the brand.
How to identify Brand Advocates?
The whole idea behind brand advocacy is to promote your brand without having to spend on it, typically a situation of free marketing. To achieve this, it is important to ensure that your advocates are people who strongly believe in your brand’s ideology and have had a great experience with your brand every time. Different from influencers, brand advocates are customers who have actually used your product/service and are satisfied. They also look forward to your newer launches and they can be an invaluable resource during new launches, based on their graph of advocacy.
Identifying these advocates, is a time-consuming process – marking people based on their constant reactions on your posts, their consistency in sharing content and their reactions to others who complain about you. In fact, for many brands, their advocates stand as a wall between complaining customers and the brand. According to a report by Marketing Week Airbnb has the highest number of brand advocates, based on the number of recommendations customers have made to their friends and family.
How to build your brand advocates army?
Once you have identified the people who are constantly interacting with you and participating in your campaigns as well as sharing news about you, or even voluntarily creating content for you, it’s time to return the favour. Here’s how you can do it:
- React: Value your advocate’s time and make sure to reply to them by simply commenting on their post, or replying to their comments on your post. Also add a thank you note every time they share your content and make specific mentions about how special they are or how much you appreciate their effort. Just react!
- Share and re-share: Your advocate has done their job of promoting your brand by sharing a post/image about how much they love you and why their friends should also do. It’s then time to show some love to your advocates. All you need to do is share their posts adding a thank you note and voila! You have an advocate who’s here to stay.
- Respond: If your advocate is facing any problem make sure you provide them special attention and resolve their issue at the earliest. This being said, great customer service is the backbone to brand advocacy, and it is imperative to provide the same to all complaining customers.
- Personalize: Whether it is a short personalised email, an SMS or even a Facebook inbox message; the idea is to keep reaching out to your advocates from time to time and showing them love. You could also add personalised offers as a token of appreciation and they will keep promoting you.
- Recognition: Share dedicated posts with your advocates face on it, run a recognition campaign on your page declaring an advocate of the week/month. Run advocacy campaigns and send out gift hampers to those who promote you the most. This not just helps you keep your existing advocates happy but also helps you identify new ones.
What can brand advocates do for you?
According to a report by Ciceron, here’s what brand advocates do for any brand.
What does it take to build a brand advocate?
- Need fulfilment: Your customers are constantly sharing opinions and expectations. A good social monitoring tool and the right tracking criteria can help you identify the requirements of your customers, which is also a resonation of your prospect’s opinions. Identifying the need and converting the same into actual products/services helps build your audience’s confidence.
- Great Customer Service: This one is a given, no brand can do well if they aren’t providing customer support that answers customer queries and complaints within the expected time. Also, it’s not always enough to simply respond; if you are not providing a solution to their problems, it’s not really of any use and you are definitely going to be losing out on valuable brand advocates.
- Content shareability: Make your content creative and extremely powerful, striking a chord with the customer instantly, instigating them to share your content. Or you could even tag your brand advocates asking them to share the content. Another way to increase shareability is by making the share buttons for your posts more visible. In return to them sharing your content, you could also ask your advocates to share their stories and you as a brand, re-share their content.
While building brand advocates is one side of the story, nurturing those advocates is equally important. Keeping them on their toes always by sharing interesting content, celebrating their advocacy and providing impeccable customer support is the key.