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5 Steps to Build Brand Advocacy

ImageMany brands have an established social media presence, but most haven’t taken the opportunity to move from building a community to the next level of engaging the small percentage of influential advocates whose recommendations truly lead to sales.

As AdAge put it, “Brands have been touting frothy Facebook Like numbers… but how many of those fans are actually bothering to take part in conversation with brands?”

It isn’t as easy as encouraging all of your Facebook fans to share about a new product. Not every fan of a brand’s Facebook page actually is interested in sharing about the company’s news, and a brand doesn’t (or shouldn’t) want every individual who likes their page as a brand representative.

To really create a meaningful and effective brand-consumer experience, there are a few key steps: 

  1. Understand & identify brand fans. Gather the information from email and CRM data, social media accounts and third-party data sources to develop a thorough list of potential brand fans. Cross reference to see which individuals follow the brand on multiple channels. Identify users that are already interacting with brand content. We know that only 1% of Facebook fans actually engage with the brands they ‘like’ on the channel.  Dig into the data to determine out of all these people, who truly stands out as someone who will advocate for the brand, and who the brand wants advocating for them.
  2. Develop an understanding of what will motivate fans to advocacy. This isn’t just free products, which will entice “rented fans” for a short period of time. What will lead to sustainable relationships? Through the Zócalo Group (disclaimer: my company) FanRally platform, we've found that insider information, rewards and recognition, sneak previews, special offers or immediate access are the top ways to excite brand fans.
  3. Use gamification to encourage action. Use these rewards to incentivize sharing through gamification. A trendy topic, gamification is using game mechanics in a non-game setting. By 2015, 50% of organizations are predicted to be using gamification. Entire social networks like Foursquare are built on the concept, with more than 20 million users checking in online at physical locations to earn virtual badges. Check out this Business of Gamification infographic  that shares impressive stats including “users spend 30% longer on sites with social login games”.
  4. Empower the fans on their favorite networks.  There are too many social network choices for individuals already; don’t create and give them another one. Instead, integrate with a brand’s existing website and social channels to track all of their social activities and reward them when they share for the brand. This respects the fans’ time, and creates a more genuine recommendation.
  5. Measure! Deliver content, opportunity and encouragement to fuel a fan’s desire to recommend, share, review, defend and advocate. Then track those actions, and a successful brand advocacy program will deliver measureable increases in recommendations and sales.

Have you seen any brands effectively taking this approach?

image: brand/shutterstock

Join The Conversation

  • Anika Davis's picture
    Jul 19 Posted 4 years ago Anika Davis

    Monsters Energy has brand advocates turn into a significantly large fanbase. They know their audience really well and how to reach into their common interests.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned, you should really emphasize the identity of your brand so it can reach itself to targeted audiences up to the point where they can consider it as a part that “defines” who they are.

  • Andrea Sames's picture
    Jul 18 Posted 4 years ago Andrea Sames

    You make some good points regarding engaging with a customer on the social side.  As marketers we really need to access how best to reach our customers in the first place using all mediums to tell a cohesive and consistent brand story. Not all customers are social creatures. Direct mail, online, social and event strategies or a combo of all marketing mediums can be most effective. Know your customer or target audience and reach them when and how they want to interact with your brand.  

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