Rob Fuggetta's new book, Brand Advocates, is music to my ears. For a long time, I've been pushing the value of loyalty strategies in social media crisis planning, and now I'm starting to feel like people are catching on. The book will be a valuable resource for anyone working with social media.
Brand advocacy strategies are aimed mainly at turning customers into a marketing force. As Jeremiah Owyang said, "Companies aren't trusted, brands aren't trusted...People trust each other." Developing social media strategies that build advocate armies enables any brand to make use of the most highly trusted source of information today: people.
Fuggetta is CEO of Zuberance, a powerful new platform that helps enterprise level clients identify and arm brand advocates. The book makes the Zuberance baseline thinking available to the masses. It's an easy read (I read 90% of it on a 3 ½ hour plane ride). The book makes sense of a cultural phenomenon that many marketers are afraid of: the customer is in charge. As Fuggetta says, "Your advocates will evangelize you without payments or points, coupons or cash. You can't buy authentic Advocates. Their advocacy is not for sale...Smart marketers aren't fighting this customer uprising. They're harnessing it." And he has the data and case studies to prove it.
The key ingredient in the equation is a formula called the Net Promoter Score, which has been around since 2003, but has been misunderstood and underused. The book starts out defining what a brand advocate is and moves into identification methods, measuring, how to unleash the power of an advocate army, and much more. The book is also loaded with case studies that give the reader an idea of how the concept could be scaled and implemented. Section four of the book includes an extensive playbook on how to put the concepts to work. There are blueprints for both B2B and B2C.
The most exciting takeaway for me is not even covered in the book to a great extent, and that is how brand advocacy strategies can help mitigate crises. As I wrote in Listen, Engage, Respond, the same advocacy strategies that send a business' bottom line soaring will help buffer the brand in the event of a crisis. Defending the company and brand reputation from detractors is one of the top ten things advocates will do for you, according to Fuggetta. He estimates that an advocate is worth up to five times more than a regular consumer, and he also calculates the financial impact of negative word of mouth-both or which should be of interest to crisis managers who want to prove their bottom line worth.
I recommend Brand Advocates for anyone involved in social media strategy-crisis or otherwise. It's time for us to move beyond the traditional like/reach numbers when defining social media success and start looking at how to turn those likes and numbers into an enthusiastic force that gives us a turbocharged ROI . Good reading!