Why are brand advocates important?
Well, Nielsen found that 88% of people trust recommendations from the people they know more than any other channel. Simply put, people value what other people have to say about a brand or product/service more than anything else.
In this landscape, you can’t solely rely on traditional marketing strategies, like paid ads. We’re not saying they don’t work (they do!), but they can’t be your entire strategy. Otherwise, you will, without a doubt, miss out on larger audiences.
That’s why you need a brand advocacy program.
What is a Brand Advocate?
A brand advocate is a person who recommends your company as well as your products and services. Their brand advocacy can happen in a variety of ways, such as (among many):
- Sharing your content
- Referring new customers
- Providing reviews
- Participating in or building communities
- Creating user-generated content (UGC)
- and much more.
However, the elements that tie all of these acts of brand advocacy together is authenticity and credibility. Ultimately, the key is to get potential customers and employees to connect with your through the voices of the people they trust the most.
In a way, brand advocates are like brand ambassadors, but deeper in that they love your brand and connect with it at a personal level.
In this post, we’ll run you through four types of brand advocates every company needs. If you want to build a successful brand advocacy program, you need to develop these advocates:
1. Industry Thought Leaders
Establishing a relationship with these individuals is essential as your company can piggyback on their solid reputation to add additional credibility and awareness to your brand.
Connecting with thought leaders needs to be done carefully.
This relationship needs to be reciprocal. Reaching out through social media is an easy low friction way to begin to interact with thought leaders. Social media facilitates a two-way conversation which is ideal when trying to connect and build rapport.
There are easy ways to start to get noticed by these industry thought leaders:
- Add them to a Twitter list
- Join the same Facebook or LinkedIn groups they participate in
- Reference (and tag) them in your content
- Thoughtfully comment on their social posts and blog articles
- Connect with them on LinkedIn (with a thoughtful introduction)
Now you are better acquainted with these thought leaders you can reach out. Just make sure whenever you approach these individuals you offer value to them (backlinks, additional promotion, etc.) and not just “sell” them on your brand.
2. Customer Advocates
Word of mouth has always been one of the strongest forms of marketing because people trust people – not brands. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of marketing.
Sourcing customers who are both advocates and open to collaboration can be a challenge. But there are easy ways to started:
- Partner with your customer success team to identify your top performing customers
- Check on social media to make sure these enthusiastic individuals are also active on social.
- Retweet and interact with these customers on social
- Pitch them with joint case studies or engaging with you on various campaigns
As with thought leaders, it’s important to showcase the mutual value of participating in your brand advocacy program. Make sure when communicating with clients you clearly articulate what’s in it for them.
Get to know your customer and what makes them tick:
- Are they looking to expand their social networks or networks in general?
- Is your contact looking to develop their own thought leadership and promote themselves?
- Will the customer want special treatment or an added service?
Whatever the reason, find out what would interest them and turn your ask from a favor into a mutually beneficial relationship.
3. Executive Team
Having your top leaders be active on social media and engaged in developing their brand image is essential for the company. Leadership needs to be seen as extremely knowledgeable and competent as they are leading the charge and direction for the company.
Strong, socially active leaders create an external sense of stability for the brand and an internal role model for employees to follow.
Executives are busy and concerned with the bottom line. To convince them, hit them with the numbers! According to the CNBC:
- Social media savvy CEOs are 89 percent stronger at empowering employees
- CEOs on social media are 52 percent better at communicating in a compelling way
- CEOs with a social media presence are 46 percent more likely to be rated as “influential”
- Socially savvy CEOs are 36 percent more adept at cultivating networks of people
The key to engaging the C-suite is to showcase how their time spent on social media can generate positive brand awareness and ultimately ROI to the business.
4. Employee Advocates
As we have covered above, trust and authenticity are what resonates when sourcing brand advocates on social media. People want the unbiased inside scoop and that is what your employees can deliver on social.
To get employees bought in you need to establish the WIIFM (what’s in it for me) factor and make it simple by establishing an employee advocacy program.
Establish the WIIFM Factor.
Employees need to know all the personal benefits (thought leadership, easy network building, referral bonuses, etc.) they can get out of being a brand advocate.
Teach the Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media
Every business is unique so unless you’re the organization’s Social Media Manager you cannot expect employees to know how to properly source content, execute on the right channel with a message that will resonate, and what social media pitfalls to avoid.
Employees may be onboard but not if it is too challenging. Create easy peer-to-peer brand advocate programs like employee advocacy that make sharing as simple as a few clicks.
How to Source Brand Advocates
Sourcing brand advocates should not be costly, nor should the messages fall flat because they come across as inauthentic. The key to finding the right brand advocate is sourcing those individuals who are already bought into your industry or brand and leveraging that affinity to create a mutually beneficial relationship.