What if your company could tap into a group of people that not only marketed your new products and services, but also defended you against hateful comments, gave you valuable feedback, and responded to questions from other customers on forums and message boards?
Pretty valuable, right?
Brand advocates—people who are so delighted by your brand that they can’t help telling everybody about it—are the best value around: Free.
Companies that recognize and reward their brand advocates have an unparalleled marketing advantage over companies that don’t. Just one brand advocate willing to share your company’s message reaches an average of 130 friends on social media.
Take that number to 100 advocates and you’ve now made an impression on up to 13,000 people—for little time or money on your part and directly from somebody those people know and trust.
Recognizing and creating that army of advocates does take time and commitment. The amount of trust required for a customer to share your brand with his or her personal friends and family is likely fairly high. It’s built, however, by the same methods that people build relationships with other people: communicating, giving back as much as you get, and showing that you care.
The following three steps can help you get started on a path to engaging with your customers and building up an army of passionate brand advocates.
1. Provide great products and services and follow up with outstanding customer service.
Brand advocacy is only possible when your company is providing something worth talking about. Apple built up a following of hardcore fans by focusing on quality and design first. Likewise, Zappos’ success is due in large part to the excellent customer service their customers receive at every step of every sale.
2. Create a company culture where your employees become your greatest brand advocates.
A recent Forrester Research survey found that 96% of marketing leaders agreed that executive team commitment to brand building was critical to their company’s success. Employees—at all levels of the organization—that are engaged with your brand’s story, goals, and purpose, and their own role within these are much more likely to advocate on your company’s behalf when dealing with an angry customer or even out and about during their personal lives. Their greater advocacy builds the relationships that fuel future brand advocates.
3. Engage with your audience and make your content shareable.
As mentioned earlier, building brand advocates is similar to the process of building a group of friends. Make sure to share content that actually helps your community. Show how customers impact and help out your business through customer profiles or testimonials. Tell your audience about the people behind the scenes at your company. Profile some of the ways you’re helping out in your community. Once you’ve developed a firm basis of trust amongst your audience, make sure to provide content that’s easily shareable and simply ask your audience to share it. You’ll be surprised at how many of your fans will then jump at the request!
Does your company have a group of dedicated brand advocates? What can you do now to build a more loyal following?