Yesterday we talked about the importance of connecting with influencers, people who have racked up enough social capital to be deemed “influential” to a certain sphere of audience. And while these influencers can help your business expand its audience and create positive word of mouth, they’re not the only folks you want to focus on. In fact, I wouldn’t even say they’re the main group you should be focusing on.
That honor goes to your company’s brand advocates.
A brand advocate is someone not on your staff who routinely shares your brand with their network in a positive way. Maybe they have 100 Twitter followers or maybe they have 1,000 – regardless, this person is a vocal part of your community and that makes them an important part of your community.
Why should you dedicate time to engaging brand advocates? Below are just five reasons.
1. Brand advocates are power sharers
In a world where business owners are always looking for new ways to encourage customers to share their content and messages, brand advocates are the people already doing this. In fact, you could argue that brand advocates, the segment of the population that LOVES sharing opinions, are the ones responsible for this social media revolution to begin with. By connecting with them and empowering them to share your blog posts, your eBooks, Facebook content, etc, you strengthen their voice and get them excited about the opportunity to share insight from the front lines.
2. Brand advocates are engaged
Brand advocates will have multiple Web presences that they maintain, thereby increasing their sphere of influence. For example, they may have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook account, and subscribe to multiple LinkedIn Answers threads. Because they’re heavily engaged and talking about you in their various satellite communities, it helps you create a presence on these sites without actually having to be there. Sure, you should check in and help navigate the conversation, but it means you don’t have to babysit these sites. You can rest assured that there is someone there singing your company’s praises and helping spread the word for you. And while they do that, you can focus some of your time elsewhere.
3. Brand advocates bring an established audience
Brand advocates are passionate people who enjoy sharing their insights about products and services with others. And because of that, it probably means they already have an established audience of people who are coming to them for this information, as these are the type of people that other social media users seek out. When you connect with brand advocates and bring them deeper into your company, you’re increasing the exposure you’ll have to their network. People who look to these advocates to get information and recommendations. They’re influencers in their own right, just with a smaller audience.
4. Brand advocates are loyal
With passion, comes loyalty. By reaching out to someone who has already shown an affinity for your company, you help make them a life-long fan. The result is that not only does that person continue to support you, but they continue to promote you to their network, as well. It also opens the door, down the line, to maybe bring them into the organization in an unofficial way – either making them a community monitor or soliciting their feedback when you’re about to launch a new service or even redesign part of your Web site.
5. Brand advocates already love you!
Before you invest time and resources trying to get strangers to talk about your company or share your on-goings with their friends, why wouldn’t you reach out to the people who already do? The people who love you for you and who can take some type of ownership of being the “first” to find you and share your brand with their friends. Because, as social media users, that’s what we love to do. We love to be the person to first discover a band, a Web site, a great company. And when we find them, we want to share them with everyone you know. When you’re hunting down people to help you promote your brand, don’t forget the people who already think you’re awesome!
While connecting with influencers is a great way to expose your content to a large number of new users, don’t ignore the people already supporting you on your home turf. The names and faces that have made names for themselves in your comment section or who you see regularly sharing your content in social media. Because these people already love you and want to share your content. Empower them and encourage them to keep at it.