Everybody wants customers. But to achieve digital visibility and establish relationships with repeat buyers, we need more than just one time buyers. One valuable way to earn repeat customers and increase your brand's reach is through employing the use of brand advocates. This concept is gaining momentum as businesses seek new ways to earn attention online, and building them can be invaluable to your company. So, how can brand advocates impact you?
First and foremost, let's examine exactly what a brand advocate is.
According to Marketing Pilgrim, a brand advocate is "that person is someone that is not simply acquired. They are an earned and genuine fan."
And what does a brand advocate do? John Moore, author of Brand Autopsy, states that a brand advocate "Believes in the goodness of a company, tells others about the goodness of a company, and is loyal to a company in good times and bad times."
From these definitions and experiences on social media, we can deduce that a modern-day brand advocate is a socially active online user who enthusiastically shares information about their favorite brands, while expecting nothing in return (other than continued excellence from the brand).
This is valuable in two contexts:
First, word of mouth trumps all other forms of promotion. No matter how funny your YouTube video or big your Facebook following may be, none of your marketing endeavors will influence purchases as effectively as recommendations from friends.
Second, social media allows the concepts of word of mouth and social proof to truly explode. Rather than telling one friend about their positive experience with your company, a brand advocate can tell 100,000 friends online.
In doing some research on brand advocates, I found this great infographic from BzzAgent:
Pretty awesome numbers here. Let's recap some key insights:
- Advocates aren't limited to social media! In fact, they're 4x more likely to participate in feedback sites and discussion boards. Going back to the concept of word of mouth, having your brand mentioned in those environments is an incredible way to amplify your Inbound efforts.
- Brand advocates are 75% more likely to share their positive experiences with online social circles. This is huge, since we know from experience that customers are generally much more likely to discuss negative than positive brand interactions. Leveraging brand advocates to spread the good word about your brand can have an exponential impact on the way you're percieved online.
- It's important to note the inclusion that "Brand advocates like to be seen as thought leaders." Although it's great to have just about anyone spreading positive messaging about your company, not all brand advocates are created alike. The influence of a particular advocate can be measured via their social reach or impact, which is tracked via Klout score. To get the most out of brand advocacy, focus your engagement initiatives on users with optimal influence.
Armed with this information on the value of brand advocates, you're likely eager to start encouraging advocacy of your own.
In order to earn the support and dedication of customers, your first step should always be providing an exceptional product, service, and experience. Simply asking for RT's and shares may get you a little bump in visibility in the short run, but you should be aiming to create a lasting relationship that's about more than social reach.
Once that's covered, you can proceed to strategizing ways to develop relationships with potential advocates. Check out this article from Shoutlet for some examples of companies who've got it down. And when you get going, let me know what's working for you in the comments below!