Creating brand advocates can help you withstand the vagaries of the social web, build brand advocacy, and respond proactively to unfavorable publicity.
Social media has become one of the most powerful channels for word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing. A while ago, I used to stay at Club Mahindra’s resort in Varca, Goa, for a much-needed yearly break.
As a happy customer, enjoying their world-class service and ambiance, I would share a few holiday photos of the resort on my Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter profiles.
By posting a few photos with the @ClubMahindra tag, I became a brand advocate for the company, and would gladly recommend them for the many happy family memories they helped create.
- What is a brand advocate?
- How to identify your brand advocates
- How to use social media to create brand advocates
- #1. Listen to what your customers are saying
- #2. Provide excellent social customer service
- #3. Offer incentives for brand advocates
- #4. Create incredibly viral campaigns
- #5. Create a rewards program on multiple levels
- #6. Support & showcase your brand advocates
- #7. Respond to negative posts quickly
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What is a brand advocate?
Brand advocacy, meaning the voluntary act of endorsing, defending, or serving as a reliable and genuine source of promotion for a specific brand or product, is based on a strong emotional bond and satisfying interactions with it.
An individual who actively supports and promotes a specific brand or product, typically as a result of their own positive experiences with it and deep emotional attachment to it, is known as a brand advocate.
Brand champions are essential for increasing brand recognition, credibility, and loyalty. They can be individuals, influencers, or employees.
Brand advocates help to develop trust and credibility with potential customers by expressing their own experiences and viewpoints about the brand, which eventually leads to increased sales and brand expansion.
They serve as a potent source of genuine, legitimate brand advocacy marketing for a business by willingly promoting it to friends, family, and their social network.
For example, BookTokers, who make up TikTok’s book lover community, use the hashtag #BookTok to recommend books they love or hate.
How to identify your brand advocates
Brand advocacy begins with employee engagement and satisfaction. Employees are more likely to speak highly of and suggest a company to others when they feel appreciated and have had a pleasant time working there.
A robust employee brand advocacy program can incentivize and reward employee advocacy on social media to promote employer branding and raise brand loyalty and awareness.
You can also find brand advocates on social media and identify your most ardent advocates and champions in a number of ways, including:
- Social media monitoring: Use social media listening tools to get alerts for mentions of your business on social media sites, and search for users who frequently leave encouraging comments and interact with your brand’s postings.
- Customer feedback: Examine testimonials, comments, and survey results to identify clients who have regularly rated your brand favorably.
- Sales data: Examine your sales data to find repeat customers and those who recommend your brand to others.
- Loyalty programs: Make use of your brand’s loyalty program to find customers who interact with it frequently and turn their loyalty into customer brand advocacy.
- Online communities: Look for people who participate in discussions about your brand in online communities that are relevant to your business or sector.
Create a brand advocate program that offers incentives like awards, access to unique content, affiliate commissions, or new product and promotion opportunities that will encourage your brand advocates to continue promoting your company.
Are you convinced of the power of social media to create brand advocates? So just how do you go about creating brand advocates through social media?
Here are some ways to build brand advocacy, along with some examples to illustrate the power of brand advocates:
#1. Listen to what your customers are saying
Use social media listening tools to listen to what people are saying about your brand across multiple social media channels and then respond to them individually.
These tools will help you monitor the sentiment about your brand across the web and identify your brand advocates. You can then connect with them and invite them to join a private community where you can engage with them and offer incentives for feedback.
The first step to creating brand advocates is to provide excellent social customer service. Customers on social media have come to expect brands to respond to their queries and complaints.
Social media users tell three times as many people about positive customer service experiences compared to the general population. Having an efficient customer service program will ensure that you respond to complaints quickly and prevent negative comments from escalating into a crisis.
Tidio’s fully automated AI-fueled chatbots blend cutting-edge live chat and chatbot technologies without any scripting to provide exceptional, real-time, 24/7 customer service that increases trust and sales.
#3. Offer incentives for brand advocates
Well-designed brand advocacy programs, when coupled with excellent social customer service, can help you create strong advocates for your brand and give you the benefit of excellent word-of-mouth recommendations from your customers and their peers.
Here are some referral and affiliate management tools that will help you incentivize your brand advocates to promote your products and services:
The UpViral Rewards System lets you create and deliver unique prizes for your brand advocates and social media fans. You can offer URLs for secret content, downloadable files, discount coupon codes, or any kind of incentive relevant to the product or service that you’re trying to sell.
UpViral’s automatic reward delivery system tracks your subscribers for you, emails them their prizes when they achieve a milestone, and keeps them motivated with referral milestones that automatically reward them.
LeadDyno’s all-in-one affiliate tracking software will help you launch, manage, and grow your affiliate or influencer program and start rewarding brand advocates and influencers for promoting your business.
Referral Candy is the perfect referral manager for e-commerce businesses. You can get happy customers to refer their friends, customize and brand the look of your referral program, and see your sales grow through customer referrals.
With Referral Candy, you can track performance within Google Analytics, and easily add unique referral links for your brand advocates to share within your Mailchimp newsletters.
Compensate your brand advocates for referring signups, sales, or mobile app installs with InviteReferrals referral marketing software.
You can offer two-way gratification, where a successful transaction rewards both the referrer and the buddy. Every stage of the campaign is tracked by the InviteReferrals platform, from shares to clicks to successful referral conversions.
For better results, introduce an element of exclusivity in the incentives you offer. See how the Jacksonville Jaguars incentivized their brand advocates in the campaign below.
Create an application that rewards your customers for posting to their Facebook newsfeed or Twitter stream every time they redeem a discount campaign or complete a successful purchase on your website (with their permission, of course).
This will tell all their peers about their interaction with your brand and give you amazing word-of-mouth publicity. The UpViral Rewards System offers built-in Facebook newsfeed and rich tweet integrations to ensure your viral campaigns always look outstanding in the feed.
Don’t forget to track the success of your viral marketing campaigns by creating a unique brand hashtag that your brand advocates can share and creating unique tracking links to track clicks and conversions.
According to studies, this kind of marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than twice the sales of paid advertising. See how the Jaguars did it in the brand advocacy examples below.
#5. Create a rewards program on multiple levels
Reward your customers with a bigger discount for purchasing from you consistently, and get them to post about it to their peers. You can design a number of levels, such as Gold, Platinum, and Diamond, and increase the discounts awarded as they work their way up the rewards program.
If you design the rewards well and make your brand advocates look good when they talk about them, they’ll gladly tell all of their friends about them.
The UpViral Rewards System lets you keep your participants hyper-motivated with referral milestones that automatically reward them for every 3, 5, 10, or more referrals they bring. Offer as many rewards as you can think of and keep subscribers referring new people to your business for much longer than usual.
#6. Support & showcase your brand advocates
One way to support brand advocates is to sponsor them, as the HubSpot Creators program is doing. Introduced in 2021, it helps new content creators increase their audience while paying for and supporting their content.
Podcasters that reach a particular audience size are eligible to join the HubSpot Podcast Network, where some have seen listenership increase by an average of 76% since joining.
Shining the spotlight on your brand advocates is also very effective since it leverages your brand’s visibility to bring greater exposure to your advocates and what they do.
Ensure that you tag them in your Instagram or Facebook posts regularly. Posting at the right time of day can help maximize their exposure, provide them with the necessary gratification to stay motivated, and help spread the word about your business further.
Starbucks does this very well on Instagram by inviting users to send in their coffee photos tagged with #Starbucks. Many brands invite their customers to send in photos of them engaging with their product and then showcase the best ones as a cover photo or even on a hoarding.
Give your brand advocates and champions some love, and they’ll return it multiple times over. Again, the Jaguars did it really well.
#7. Respond to negative posts quickly
Do you remember the crisis Dominos faced when a couple of their employees posted a damaging video on YouTube performing “unsanitary acts” with their pizzas?
The failure of Domino’s management to respond quickly resulted in the video getting over 1 million views within two days.
The crisis cost Domino’s over $50 million in sales, and 65% of respondents who would previously order Domino’s Pizza were less likely to do so after viewing the offending video.
Had Dominos responded quickly and taken the video down, it might have mitigated some of the negative press and loss of business. It was a lesson for all brands to take customer sentiment on social media more seriously.
Use the tips above to start creating brand advocates who can help your company weather the ups and downs of the social web and actively respond to any negative press that might come your way.
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© 2023, Priya Florence Shah. All rights reserved.
Priya Florence Shah is a bestselling author, an award-winning online publisher, and an online branding consultant. Download her free personal branding eBooks and check out Devi2Diva, her book on emotional self-care for women. In her spare time, Priya writes science-fiction novels and poetry and chills with her two-legged and four-legged kids.