Today’s digital opportunities provide brands with many occasions to connect with their core consumers in meaningful ways. But in order for this to work, brands themselves have to foster advocacy and make it a prominent part of their marketing strategies. In the age of consumer control and peer-to-peer influence, it’s not a secret that brand ambassadors are amongst the most powerful partners you could wish to have on your side. Yet as many reports suggest, brands are largely failing at driving advocacy through social media.
To help you grow a healthy environment on social media we are starting with letter A for ‘ADVOCACY’, which is part of our ‘A to Z of social media: a guide to success’. If your aim is to become a great brand and produce a unique experience for your audience, keep reading as in this post we’re going to share with you some advice, tactics, and suggestions on how to build an advocacy program.
Why are advocates valuable to your business?
Advocates, often mistaken for loyal customers, don’t just consistently keep buying from you, they take a much more personal approach to your brand with authentic enthusiasm and endorsement. They champion your brand, making others pay more attention and trust.
7 surprising insights about brand advocates from Deloitte, Forrester, Zuberance:
– 92% of consumers trust brand advocates
– Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate
– Brand advocates are 5X more valuable than average customers
– They spend at least 2X as much as average customers
– Brand advocates spend 3X as much as average customers over the lifetime of their relationship with a company or brand
– Every time they advocate for a product or service, they reach 150 people using social media
As you can see from the this data, advocacy is a very powerful asset which is helping companies, big and small.
Yet it’s also important to point out that great online engagement doesn’t just happen, brands have to work on it by supporting their efforts with an active plan to focus on identifying, engaging and retaining those visible and hidden advocates amongst their audience.
As this diagram presents, an advocacy system is built upon trust, authenticity and the effort of creating a positive experience. A brand’s culture, it’s heritage, and personalisation, are amongst other ingredients which can lead to success.
Let’s have a look at some tactics to spur brand advocacy and inspire your next steps in applying it:
1. Share advocates’ content with a wider audience & acknowledge their efforts
Advocates’ endorsements deserve recognition, how simple is that! Yet often these acts of kindness are being forgotten. Start with something simple:
● Like/Favourite their updates
● Retweet/Share their comments
● Turn their photos into photo collages
● Use the Flipagram app to create short photo movies
Take this example from Taco Bell, who rewarded its top Twitter advocates with personalised handwritten notes and a custom ring. This small gesture not only created lots of buzz on social media, but also provided the brand with engaging user-generated content.
TIP: When collaborating with brand ambassadors keep in mind the high value of content co-creation. Offer them tools to enhance their creativity and allow them to create branded content on their own.
2. Offer something special
Paying attention to your advocates’ activities will provide you with some ideas of how to show your appreciation for their work. You can start by giving them special access to VIP promotions, information, or events.
These tactics will allow your brand ambassadors to increase and share their excitement while expanding brand loyalty for your organisation.
TIP: If you are creating hashtags for specific events or campaigns make sure to track and record them in order to evaluate performance and pursue in the future the formats which resonated the best with your audience.
3. Inspire conversation and engagement with content
Building a brand advocacy program can provide you with an opportunity to examine your messages and the content you’re producing. Put aside the concept of using your blog, YouTube videos or social media just for selling your products. Instead, concentrate on providing useful information, tips and solutions to build further advocacy.
For retailer Mr Porter, the blog is a place where people can find inspiration about style, history and fashion curiosities. To add extra weight to each article, the brand is using the correct tone of voice and copywriting style, as well as exquisite photography and illustration which are crucial elements of any good piece of content.
TIP: Produce content that other people can believe in by aligning it with causes, emotions and lifestyle.
4. Focus on your fans’ emotions and their stories
Use social media to explore your advocates’ passions and turn their visual storytelling into a much bigger campaign. People who build your brand create stories which are much more powerful, believable and portray your philosophy more effectively.
TIP: Display your advocates’ uniqueness and artistic skills by inviting them into a brand-consumer collaboration while challenging them to try something new.
When building an advocacy ecosystem you must remember that it can only work when it’s real and authentic. To make it work try to avoid the following tactics:
● Avoid paying or incentivizing advocates, instead acknowledge their efforts
● Don’t view advocate marketing as short-term promotion, to make it work apply a systematic approach
● Don’t just do it alone – invest in experts’ help who understand this relatively new marketing approach and who are able to select the best tactics to fit your business.
I hope this post has inspired your thoughts as I would love to hear what tactics you are planning to apply to grow your brand’s advocacy. In my next blog post I will be reviewing the meaning behind the letter ‘B’ and explaining how social media should never be ‘owned’ just by one person but should reflect the character of the whole brand.
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