Every week, I write a round up of excellent brand advocacy reads. Doing this has taught me one thing: I know this because I'm inundated with articles to choose from each week, and that gets awfully noisy after a while.
What I've been able to take away from these posts is that there are some basic truths that we've all come to accept about brand advocacy. As professionals, we don't always have time to read all of this material and pull out insights - luckily for you, I've made it an essential part of my week to do just that. So, I've pulled together a list of 4 truths you absolutely need to know about brand advocacy.
1. You have to be worth it. The bottom line here is that if you want your customers to advocate for your brand, it has to be worth their time to do it. This comes from a combination of having an excellent product or service, and having a system in place to acknowledge and reward these advocates for their efforts. This does NOT mean financially compensating your advocates. What you can do is provide them with exclusive benefits, content, or access.
2. Quality over quantity. More isn't always better, especially when it comes to brand advocates. Be selective when deciding whom to involve in your program. An advocate speaks to current or potential customers on behalf of your brand. Make sure you have the right voices out there spreading the word, or it will come off as inauthentic, coerced or fake. Or worse, they could be spreading the entirely wrong message to the wrong audience. So, start with a small group that you know you can rely on and build from there.
3. Have the right setup. Do not start a brand advocacy program without a completed strategy or your setting yourself up for an utter disaster. At best, you'll look disorganized. At worst, you'll seriously tick off your best customers (looking at you, Nutella). Either way, not a good look on anyone. Make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of this program, what you want your advocates to get, how that's going to happen, and how you're going to sustain it. An advocacy program for one campaign is a gross underuse of the benefits you could be reaping through a full time program.
4. Believe in your advocates as much as they believe in you. I know this sounds awfully Peter Pan of me, but it's true. The hardest part of an advocacy program is letting go of total control of your brand. If your customers are out there spreading the word about your brand, let them. And let them do it in their own way and on their terms. You can have suggested messaging, of course, but you can't control what others say any more than you can control when and where they say it. Have the same faith in them as they do in your brand, and you'll both be very happy for it.
The most important thing to note is that whether or not you're a part of it, there are conversations happening about your brand and industry throughout various media. You'd be silly not to take advantage of that momentum and use it to build something permanent and truly meaningful for your brand and your customers.
Of course, there are so many other nuances to brand advocacy that haven't been covered here. But we're busy people, so let's just take our information in small bites and move on. If you're ever curious about what other material is out there on the subject, check out my weekly posts. I write little summaries and everything, so it's nice and easy to digest.