Who are your brand advocates, you ask? They’re the folks in your community who evangelize your product or service to their own audience simply because they love it. They can’t be bought or gamed, but their social activity can booster your brand online and help you to find new customers. eMarketer recently told the tale of why brand advocates are here to help, which featured some fantastic takeaways for small business owners to learn a bit about the people motivated to help them.
To help you take better advantage of the advocates that rest in your own community, below are four truths they want you to know. Because the more you understand your advocates, the better you can reach out to them.
1. They’re Regular Joes
Sure, it’s easy to use social media as an ego game. When creating influencer programs we look for the people with the most followers, the biggest audiences, and the highest Klout scores. We believe that it’s these high-impact influences that are most worthy our time. But the truth is that’s not necessarily the case. A powerful brand advocate doesn’t need 10,000 Twitter followers; just a genuine passion for your brand.
When trying to identify brand influencers, look deep within your own community. ‘
- Who are the faces frequently commenting on your blog?
- Who is giving you daily RT’s?
- Who is Liking and Sharing your content on Facebook?
- Whose pinning your content on Pinterest?
- Who is linking to your site or social media assets most often?
- Where are you getting customer referrals from?
Make notes of these people and create a spreadsheet to help you keep track of them. Most often, these are the people you want to work on engaging. Not the folks on Twitter with the high follower counts but who have never interacted with your brand.
2. They’re Motivated by Good Experiences
If your brand advocates aren’t motivated by money, what are they motivated by? eMarketers compiled information aggregated by Zuberance, a company which works to identify brand advocates, and found that 87 percent of brand advocates are motived by one of two things:
- Good experiences with a product or service – 50 percent
- A desire to help others (e.g. wants friends to make smarter purchase decisions) – 37 percent
And that’s often why those Regular Joes are the most powerful brand advocates. Because their goal isn’t to increase their Klout score or earn a commission, they’re simply trying to help a friend make a more informed decision. And because the recommendation is coming from a friend, people are more likely to believe it, to give your company a shot, and then recommend you to others if/when they have a good experience with you.
As a brand, this is where going above and beyond to serve your customers becomes so important. It used to be that one person would tell 10 others about their experience with your brand. Now they have the power to tell thousands with just the push of a button. Focus on creating good experiences with your product or service and you’ll also be empowering people to talk about and share your brand.
3. They’re NOT Motivated by Money
Take another look at the graph represented above. Just one percent of respondents said they recommend brands to get incentives and/or rewards. I think many business owners would be surprised by that. We think that in order to get reviews or to get people talking about our business, we need to pay them. But this survey shows this is not the case. Your customers are motivated by their love of your brand and by the desire to share that experience with other people. Give people a reason to take ownership over your brand and help them to feel invested. If you can do that, you put yourself on a good path to attract advocates.
4. Brand Advocates Frequently Recommend Products/Services
Brand advocates are obsessive. They don’t just recommend one brand, one time. They actually seek out opportunities to educate other people about the brands they love. In January 2012, found that 38 percent of Internet users in the US made a recommendation about once a month, with 12 percent doing so several times a week.
For users who enjoy evangelizing products or services, it becomes a habit. As a business owner, you want to work to identify these people, understanding their needs and expectations, and then doing your best to exceed them. because if you leave that person with a good taste in their mouth about your company, you can be certain that they’re going to share it and the experience may go viral within your community.
To attract brand advocates, you have to think like a brand advocate. Above are four truths that I think every business owner could learn from when looking to identify and reach out to the folks passionate about their company.
Advocates Photo via Shutterstock
Is there a way to attract more brand advocates or to turn more of your customers into brand advocates? If they are not motivated by money or prizes, that only leaves experiences and the desire to help others, as you point out. How would you go about using these two motivations to cultivate your brand advocates?
Smart businesses will focus on #2 and #3 because it tells you what to do. Do give great service and produce exceptional products. Don’t buy/bribe influencers to shill your crap. While the latter may work for awhile, it isn’t sustainable in the long run.
While the survey may prove #3 to be true, I’d still recommend sending a little financial profit towards those brand advocates who help your business|site. Financial profit could come in innumerable ways such as making referrals for them which are certain to convert into payment(s) (I’ve recently made such referrals to Brandergy members. One payee marvels at the help he’s gotten from the person who was an informal brand advocate for my site. The payee is satisfied that he’s clearly gotten much more than he’s paid for…)
So, even though I didn’t pay the brand advocate, I helped her make money for her small consultancy…
Agreed that #2 and #3 really stand out on this list. Making customers love your brand is the smartest thing you can do.
Thanks Lisa! Some good perspective in a space with lots of HYPE.
100% agree that true brand advocates can not be bought – nor, to touch on the Thomas’s question, can they be cultivated. Your only hope is to deliver on your promise and hope that, with time, your customers will grow to trust your brand to a point where they are willing to evangelise you.
BUT…I would contend that rewarding those advocates that do choose to evangelise is certainly not going deter them from doing so.
Moreover, I believe that a reward mechanism can even help nudge someone who’s on the fence & give them the encouragement they need to become an evangelist.
In most cases, it’s a small % of your customers who become brand advocates. Of the rest, if they are loyal customers, they may well be happy to spread the word, they just never get around to it. Give them a reward for doing so…and they may just cross the line.
Once they do, it can be addictive. If you keep delivering a great product/service, all the people they are telling about you will invariably thank your new advocate for the recommendation. Soon enough, a cycle of positive reinforcement is built with your brand in the middle.
Thanks for the post – this is the world I live in every day! In addition to my blog at http://www.WOM10.com, I also blog about “Advocates” on http://www.TheNEWAdvocate.com. From my consulting work, helping companies even understand who their advocates are is challenging. It is one of those areas everyone acknowledges as important but very few go about doing anything to enhance it.
Since most “marketers” are more interested in repeated casting of the wide net to capture .0001% of the audience and call it a success, they have lost sight of their most powerful “sales people” in the market – their Advocates! Helping them put a strategy in place to go after this group is not the norm – mostly because it takes more work to nurture and utilize an “Advocate Strategy” than a “cast the net” strategy. It also takes more involvement from leadership, which makes it challenging.
This is a “white hot” topic so thanks for sharing some thoughts on the topic. I also completely agree with the chart you shared about what the audience cares about, THE EXPERIENCE. Social media is truly all about the experience, most just miss this because they are so busy talking about themselves. I will share this chart in a blog post as well since I think it is critical for others to understand. Thank you again for the post…