It’s 2023.  What Will Leading Companies Be Doing To Optimize The Connective Linchpin Value Of Brand, Customer, And Employee Advocacy?


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I’ve been catching up on my advocacy behavior reading, as always looking to better understand how exemplary performers execute at the intersection where brand, customer, and employee advocacy behavior meet.  A recent book that has particularly caught my attention is Fanocracy, by noted business growth strategist and advisor David Meerman Scott and his daughter. I’m not a speed reader, but I read it cover-to-cover (close to 300 pages) in just a few hours; and the book offered a lot to think about, and for companies to apply.

Among key topics covered by Scott were:

– the importance of human connection and proximity between stakeholders, especially employees and customers
– the power of ‘mirror neurons’, having others around us bonding and emotionally connecting with our behavior and what we’re experiencing (think of ripples radiating out from a stone dropped into a pond)

– to hand over control and direction of the brand message, develop and leverage involved stakeholder communities (composed of experts, connectors, and the disenfranchised), both offline and online

– offer the simple, but highly impactful, ‘no strings’ gift of stakeholder value overdelivery, especially when it’s unexpected

– be altruistic, with no expectation of anything in return

– build personal identify to become more than the product or service, so that people see themselves as reflections

– be smart, consistent and focused about the multi-tiered roles of believable, authentic influencers and brand advocates

– focusing on the product or service alone, rather than the experience, results in a race to the bottom

– welcome stakeholders into the culture (and operating processes), which helps create emotional context and reduces barriers between buyer and sellerr

– treat stakeholders personally, like family which will, in turn, lead to greater harmony and deeper advocacy

– use advocacy as a method of bringing like-minded people together to celebrate what they love

– in this era of automation and digitization/digital footprints, go beyond the ‘numbers’ data and recognize that stakeholder
relationships are built by listening more, to both learn and humanize

keep in mind that advocacy behavior is created by human-centered businesses, not those that are data-obsessed

trust is essential to advocacy creation, so companies need to be consistent and tell the truth, even – and especially – if it hurts

develop employees who will feel their significance, be excited about their work and contribution, and inspire enthusiasm, enjoyment, and passion among customers

There’s much more detail in the book, of course; but what’s listed above represents the basic ideas. And, they are powerful.

Where Scott and his daughter Reiko ended up in Fanocracy put me very much in mind of what Seth Godin concluded in his 2011 Book, Linchpins, essentially an experience improvement formula, or recipe, whose ingredients are purpose, emotions, brand, data, and perceived value:  “When your organization becomes more human, more remarkable, faster on its feet, and more likely to connect directly with customers, it becomes indispensable.” Fanocracy and linchpins are the essence and core of brand, customer, and employee advocacy.

Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC
Michael Lowenstein, PhD CMC, specializes in customer and employee experience research/strategy consulting, and brand, customer, and employee commitment and advocacy behavior research, consulting, and training. He has authored seven stakeholder-centric strategy books and 400+ articles, white papers and blogs. In 2018, he was named to CustomerThink's Hall of Fame.


  1. Thanks so much for the kind words about Fanocracy , Michael.

    In our research for the book, Reiko and I constantly heard the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of superficial online communications. Tech-weary and bot-wary people are hungry for true human connection. Businesses succeed in this new reality by tapping into the mindset that relationships with customers are more important than the products they sell to them.

  2. David, thanks very much for your comments.  Agree that, even more today, people desire meaningful connection on a personal level. I’ve been a strong, active proponent of the business outcome and cultural power of human-centered brand, customer, and employee advocacy for close to two decades –, and  –  consulting, researching, and reporting on its impressive array of organizational benefits.  What I found most salient in Fanocracy was how you and Keiko, taking different perspectives, conveyed how strategic purpose, commitment, stakeholder focus, and humanistic passion and emotion can be combined and leveraged to optimize behavior and results.  My 300+ CustomerThink posts, 7 books, and scores of conference presentations, white papers, and webinars are largely devoted to these important subjects.

  3. David –

    Apologies for getting your daughter’s name incorrect. I meant Reiko. Mea culpa.


  4. Hello Michael, informative topics covered by scoot in his book.
    I think , what truly makes for a good experience? Speed. Convenience. Consistency. Friendliness. And human touch—that is, creating real connections by making technology feel more human and giving employees what they need to create better customer experiences.


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