The following is an excerpt from “A Pretty Decent Guide to Brand Advocacy“, a whitepaper devoted to what some have called the “Holy Grail” of marketing.
Brand advocacy works because recommendations from friends and family are the most trusted form of advertising there is.
Now that you know, it’s time to get brand advocates working for you.
But where do you start? And once you’ve started, how do you make sure it’s working?
Here’s how to build and maintain a successful brand advocacy program.
1. Set a goal
Like any campaign — be it PR, advertising, or even military! — you need a clear objective. If you don’t have an end goal, how will you ever know if your campaign is a success?
A simple and highly effective way to articulate your goal is to use the SMART framework.
You need to know what exactly you want to achieve; it has to be quantifiable; it has to be realistic; it has to contribute to your greater company objectives, and; you need to give yourself a timeframe.
Here’s an example: “Create a brand advocacy program that will increase our monthly Twitter mentions from 100 to 500 by the end of the fiscal year.”
Hey! That’s a nice goal!
2. Identify your advocates
Just as it’s true that not all of your Facebook friends are real friends, not everyone who follows your business on social media has the makings of an advocate.
The Harvard Business Review recently published a study that found likes, shares, and engagement are not a predictor of action or behavior at all.
In order to identify your strongest candidates (brandicates? advocandidates?), you need to listen.
Media monitoring – whether it’s traditional, digital, or social media — is a must when it comes to learning who out there is truly and passionately on your side.
The people with real promoter potential are the ones who engage with your brand, who provide feedback, and who independently talk about your products or services, praising you in their own words rather than simply retweeting something from your marketing team.
Find these people — they’re your brand’s best friends.
3. Engage and incentivize
People interact with brands for a variety of reasons. A co-authored study from social@Ogilvy and SurveyMonkey found that promoters followed or liked brands on social media primarily to hear about products, offers, or news, but also to be able to give direct feedback and be entertained.
To build a strong brand advocacy program you have to provide those things.
Be vocal about your special offers, engage with those who engage with you, and bring delightful content to the table.
But that’s just the start.
You also need to make them feel special.
Take a page out of Maker’s Mark’s approach. The Kentucky bourbon company gives its advocates ample reasons to promote the brand:
• Members of the program get their name emblazoned on a barrel of the whiskey, giving them a sense of ownership, of being part of something
• They get updates on the maturation of “their” barrel, and the opportunity to buy that very same bourbon when it’s matured
• They also receive gifts out of the blue — and we all know there’s nothing quite like the feeling of getting a package delivered right to your door
People want to feel special. Make them a part of something, and show them they’re appreciated and recognized. If you deliver those two things, your advocates will deliver for you, and your program will be well on its way to reaching whatever goal you set for it.
4. Keep on listening
In fact, never stop listening. By continuously monitoring the media landscape, not only will you identify more and more advocates, but you’ll hear what the ones you already have are saying.
Feedback – and giving thanks for that feedback — is a pillar of the brand advocacy structure.
Don’t forget: advocates are customers, and the customer is (almost) always right.
To learn more, download our free whitepaper, “A Pretty Decent Guide to Brand Advocacy”.