Every brand dreams to have brand advocates similar to those of Apple or Microsoft. Brand advocates are passionate about the brand they love and are willing to contribute to the brand in several ways such as:
- Buying products and services from the brand
- Being an active and vocal advocate of the brand
- Giving recommendations to friends or prospective buyers about the brand
- Providing valuable feedback about the brand
- Going the extra mile to do business with the brand
While building brand advocacy may be a relatively new concept to many marketers who are more focused on outbound messaging, the concept of building brand advocacy is very similar to the marketing automation process of lead nurturing that most corporate and field marketers are familiar with.
The path to build brand advocacy
As you grow your community, your first priority is to build the community through various means. There are two types of audiences in the community. The first type of audience is pure loyalists who are really interested in your brand and want to communicate and interact with you. The second type is opportunists who are attracted by the incentives such as coupons, discounts, and sales. Among the mass of your community audience, you may be able to find your brand advocates and potential brand advocates if you observe carefully. In this stage of brand advocate building, you need to pay close attention to the audience behavior such as their contribution and their consistency of the contribution to your brand. Once you identify those brand advocates and potentials, you need to segment them in order to prioritize them for deeper relationships.
In this stage, you figure out ways to cultivate the relationship between your brand and your brand advocates. Various possibilities exist to cultivate brand advocates. Here are a few approaches you could consider implementing:
- find ways to message, interact, and share the content that resonates more with your brand advocates.
- pay attention to the comments and feedback of brand advocates, which will help strengthen the bond between your brand and your brand advocates.
- provide as many interaction opportunities as possible through innovative and creative ideas that will spur the interest from your advocates to speak out.
- identify a few actions that will foster brand advocacy. For example, if your brand is selling a widget or an apparel online, you can think of user reviews about your products as brand advocacy.
- Participate in conversations that are initiated by and/or participated in by your brand advocates.
The feeling of being recognized and rewarded as Top Fan or Super Fan of a community goes a long way for a brand advocate. Here are a few approaches you can take to reward brand advocates:
- create leaderboards on both Facebook and your web site. Send a congratulatory message to the community on a periodic basis to recognize the leaders.
- institute a loyalty program that provides ample opportunities to reward your brand advocates’ contribution, without hurting the bottom line with expensive coupons and discounts all the time.
- create special occasion experience that are relevant to your brand and resonate with your audience. For example, if you are a wedding gift related site, you can provide personalized gifts on their wedding day, which need not be expensive. The thought counts along with the gift.
At the end of the day, you are taking an approach of brand advocacy to generate loyalty and grow the business. Hence, the measuring of brand advocacy should focus on identifying the right business metrics that are expected to be positively impacted by brand advocates. Here are a few suggested measures that are relevant for brand advocacy:
- repeat sales due to brand advocacy initiatives
- advocacy actions such as user reviews, social recommendations, and social sharing generated by brand advocates
- product and shopping insights developed from brand advocates
- growth in profit
- reduction in customer acquisition costs