Advertising and marketing can cost a great deal of money, even after your brand has become widely recognized. You’ll always have a budget for these areas, but advertising and marketing will never hold as much power as word-of-mouth, especially among millennials. In fact, advocates are 70% more likely to be considered a reliable source for recommendations and information. Harnessing that power, converting those fans into die-hard advocates who embrace your vision and embody your brand, can return more than your marketing dollars ever could.
Finding fans you can convert to brand advocates is the first step. While you may have a few people walk right up and knock on your door, the most powerful persuaders are not likely to be so bold. To get that social proof you dearly need, you may need to seek out potential advocates on your own. Before you can do that, you need to understand what a brand advocate actually is.
Defining “Brand Advocates”
The simplest definition for “brand advocate” is a fan of your brand who is willing to share his or her thoughts about your products, customer service, and overall brand identity with the world. You may think of several individuals off the top of your head, but really, your mom doesn’t count.
In fact, many of the people who come to mind first as brand advocates may not be the ideal type. Before you snap up the last person who mentioned you on Twitter, ask yourself a few questions.
- Is this person an influencer?
- Does this person have a history of supporting my brand?
- Does he or she fit my brand’s buyer persona?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, you should continue your search.
“But where do I search?” you ask. Here is how to find those powerful brand advocates.
Pay attention to what your customers are saying about your brand on the Internet. Third-party review sites, social media, and even your company’s website will all give you hints as to who’s talking and how they feel about your products. Some of the cues to watch for include:
- Twitter mentions
- Highly rated reviews on third-party sites and your company site
- Reviews on personal blogs
- Likes and shares on Facebook
- Links to your content through various outlets
- Comments on blogs, social media, and reviews from other users
The list of names you gather here are your first-round candidates for the role of brand advocate. Don’t rush into inviting those users into your inner circle just yet. You still have some vetting to do.
Ted Rubin says, “…most marketers are focused on trying to assign a dollar value to each Facebook fan or Twitter follower instead of paying attention to the fact that, without the engagement and interaction that takes place in these mediums, the value of each user is greatly diminished.”
That means you need to start digging a little deeper into your biggest fans’ pasts.
Study Their History
Consider starting a spreadsheet to compare your findings. List each person who’s engaged with you through the various social channels, giving preference to those who seem to be especially effusive with their praise. Then, start looking back.
Perform a search through their past posts and make note of how often your brand was mentioned, the tone of the entries, and the overall appeal of the content shared. Also, make note of the number of friends, followers, and fans these potential advocates have. How large is their reach? Do their friends and fans also share the content related to your brand?
Align Findings with Your Brand
When you’ve determined which of your fans have healthy followings, significant influence, and dedication to your brand, you have one more step. Your brand advocates won’t help at all if they don’t support the vision, goals, and identity you’ve worked so hard to develop.
Yes, your brand advocates are an important part of your brand, an extension of your marketing efforts. Their outside activities on the Internet shouldn’t deviate from the overall message you want your brand to convey. If the differences are too great, thank those fans for their support, encouragement, and enthusiasm, but then leave them right there in the “fan” column. If they do, however, fit right in with your branding standards, you have found yourself a true advocate.
How can you ensure your brand advocates keep shouting your company’s virtues for the world to hear? We’d love to hear the tactics you’ve used with your business in the past, so leave us a message in the comments.