Are you still using conventional methods to generate brand advocacy?
Yes, I am talking about email marketing, word-of-mouth marketing, brochures, banners, etc. Don’t get me wrong, these conventional methods are not bad at all. It is just that if you restrict creating brand advocacy with only these mediums, you’ll lose out to your competitors sooner than you realise.
So, what is the best way out now?
The answer might not startle you, but it is a more of a case of underestimating this medium of steering great brand advocacy, namely – social media.
Who are Brand Advocates?
A brand advocate is necessarily an individual, and often a customer who talks positively about your brand, and your products/services. Moreover, brand advocates pass encouraging word-of-mouth messages about your brand to other people.
In the sphere of social media, brand advocates can be your customers but not restricted to it. This means that almost anyone speaking highly about your brand is a brand advocate. However, this doesn’t mean the same strategy will work for both customers and non-customers.
Identifying and making sure that you keep brand advocates happy should be an integral part of your social media strategy. Brand advocacy guarantees that people will defend your brand when any negative comments are made.
Some Facts to Emphasise the need for Brand Advocacy
A study made by Wharton School of Business, McKinsey, and R&G Technologies, divulged the following stats:-
- Consumer advocacy brings down the cost for acquiring new customers.
- A referred customer has a 16% higher life-time value.
- Referral leads convert about 30% better than leads from other channels.
- Word of mouth is behind 20% – 50% of all purchasing decisions.
- People trust friends and family more than any other source. This is the reason they spend 2 times more attention on recommendations from friends than from other advertising sources.
- 83% of satisfied customers are willing to refer products and services; however only 29% actually do. Therefore, there is a need to develop and nurture a brand advocacy program.
Now that we have established the need for using social media as your primary channel to steer brand advocacy, let us explore the diverse ways it can be deployed in the correct manner.
- Identify Potential Social Media Advocates
Infosys had conducted a survey of around 700 marketers and 85% of them said social media monitoring helped their brand create rapport with fans. This shouldn’t come as surprise – the first and foremost step to use social media for brand advocacy must be to identify potential social media advocates for your brand. You will be able to do so by keeping a close watch on your media channels. This will help you in identifying customers and clients who talk about your brand in a positive manner. Once this is done, you should enter their records in a separate database, and scrutinize their every move on social media platforms.
- Ensure Proper Engagement Tactics
Once you have identified potential brand advocates, you should look to engage them and create programs to foster their allegiance and communications. This can be done in a host of ways such as offering discounts and free gifts, sending gift cards, thank you notes, providing free samples of products/services to bloggers and influencers, etc. You can also send URL codes via messages containing exclusive coupons. Another popular mode of engaging advocates which is gaining traction is the ‘Refer a Friend’ scheme. Offering present customers a discount or cashback for referring their friends is often one of the best ways to gain new customers.
- Adapt to the way Social Media Behavior Changes
Social media can never be controlled or predicted, as it is a dynamic medium which is on an ever-changing mode. However, you can certainly keep a continuous tab on it to guarantee that you are abreast with the changes in behavior and functioning of social media platforms. 70% of Facebook users views posts made on your page on mobile devices, so you have to include 800×600 images with posts, provide a relevant link using Bitly, and most of all make the post mobile friendly. While using Twitter, include a CTA, use pertinent hashtags and @ mentions to encourage influencers, and spare at least 20 from the allotted 140 characters, for other to add individual thoughts and comments while retweeting. Similar or different strategies can be adopted for other platforms such as LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, and others.
- Proactiveness and Rapport Building
Never undervalue proactiveness and the immense importance it holds for your brand. Keep an eagle eye on social media mention of your brand on Facebook pages, LinkedIn forums, and Twitter mentions made by people apart from your customers. Also, build a fine relationship with bloggers and influences, as they are the third most likely to influence a purchase, after retail and brand websites. Rapport building also plays an all-important role while building brand advocacy. Try to respond to all posts made on your social media pages, and do it within an hour from the time the post is made. Research states that – 42% of social media users expect a response within an hour.
What has been your experience with social media and brand advocacy? Let us know in the comments below.