With more and more people relying on word of mouth referrals and recommendations from friends to make purchasing decisions, it is more than ever to have advocates that are helping your brand. Every marketer is interested in having those advocates, though most marketers don’t measure their success on social media with regards to brand advocates. There are multiple reasons for this.
When your community is small, you feel that you know whoever helped your brand. As your community grows you will lose the sight of those advocates who helped you build your brand presence on social networks. As you continue to focus on building your community, it becomes even harder. Though marketers plan loyalty programs to reward their audience, most of these programs are quid-pro-quo rather than the true appreciation from a brand that includes recognition and empathy to provide best possible customer experience to those advocates. Even if you want to do the right thing and work with your advocates more, the biggest difficulty is to know who your advocates are so that you can plan your strategies with the knowledge of advocates.
In our view, identifying and cultivating brand advocacy should be the primary focus of social media marketing not just the numbers or the size of the community. While community size give an indication on your reach, the advocacy is the real advantage you get. Imagine when a customer gives the testimonial to your brand, that testimonial is the permanent record. Hence, the concept of advocacy is not something new to any brands, but the focus on fostering advocacy is.
5 Key Aspects of Identifying Your Brand Advocates
- Audience behavior is critical to identify brand advocates. Only by understanding audience behavior with respect to your brand can help you identify your brand advocates.
- Measuring behavior is more than counting likes and comments. On social networks there are ways to count likes and comments, which could give some idea on who is interacting with your brand most. But, critical elements like how long they have been advocating your brand, how close they are to your competition, what influence they bring to your brand, what contribution they have made beyond simple social network specific behavior, and the velocity and predictability of interaction – all these go into measuring behavior.
- Negative comments don’t mean lack of loyalty or advocacy. When negative feedback or comments are posted on social networks, it is natural to react in an adverse way and remove those comments. But, the real advocate can be created through those crisis situations assuming the brand can raise up to the occasion and deliver on the promise of being on social networks, i.e., interact with fans and customers and learn from their feedback.
- Every follower/fan is a potential advocate. It is up to the brand to figure out ways to spark the advocacy within the fans and followers by being contextually relevant and to do that brands need to figure out how to provide those contexts. Today, most brands drive a lot of initiatives and campaigns and hope that those campaigns will deliver business results. Just like a Search Engine marketing initiative may deliver clicks to your website but those clicks are not permanent, the interactions or engagement a marketer drives in the community is also not permanent unless those interactions are converted into advocacy and leverage where they matter.
- Brand Advocates are everywhere. It is typical to look inward to your best fans/followers within your brand, but marketers can expand that outlook outward to identify those advocates both internal and external to their organizations. In case of B2C, one can look at competitors and figure out who their brand advocates are, understand why their advocating with the competitor and create initiatives to convert those advocates.