Brand advocates. They love to talk about brands. They are an entirely new breed of consumer. They often lead frequent online discussions about brands, and they adore using social media to tell their stories. Whether it's about new products, reviews, or giveaways, they are talking about it. Their activities help persuade the opinions and purchase decisions of millions, and they are the ones whose insights others will regularly seek out.
For brand marketers, understanding the habits and interests of these in-the-know consumers is essential. Brand advocates have the power to spread the word about your company and its offerings around the world.
Here are 10 tips for brand marketers on how to tap the power of brand advocates and gain them for your advantage:
Engage on their turf. Don't wait for brand advocates to come to you; instead, find out where they socialize. Send out your digital search squads; remember, they will be where new products are discussed. Check out discussion boards, forums, Twitter, blogs, and Facebook - start seeking them there, then into the rabbit hole you go!
Delicacy is required. Remember, advocates are not like your average consumer, so whatever you do, don't treat them as such. You have to recognize their influence and knowledge. Invite them to join a program and emphasize its exclusivity. Ask for suggestions and remember, they want to help!
Provide a healthy diet. Special access, coupons, and exclusive offers really resonate with advocates. Think of ways to provide them with a steady flow of interesting and new content.
Keep eyes on the target. Don't forget, advocates are motivated to be seen as a great source of information. Keep the information you hand them focused and about the product. Handing off commercials or random videos isn't going to go over the way you think it would.
Make it easy to find content. Advocates are smart users, but don't make their jobs hard. Make your content easy to find and share; make your assets easy to share via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on. Make sure you provide links to all necessary content.
Always build momentum. Don't ever think of this as a one-off campaign. The point of this is to continually build momentum and energize advocates for your brand advocates. By continually engaging them, they are more likely to continue talking about you, even when you don't have any campaigns going on.
Follow the rules. Businesses today need to follow the rules, and those include disclosure; conversations should be monitored to ensure compliance. Never offer payment or incentives for positive write-ups. Brand advocates take the initiative to talk about your brand because they care, not because they are being paid.
Show them off. Brand advocates build their personas by sharing information about products. Help grow their following by featuring their content on your social channels, on your website, and within your ads.
Understand their impact. How would you measure influence? Everyone has a different scoring system for identifying advocates, but always make sure to put quality ahead of quantity. Look at behaviors such as frequency of posts, posts generating the most interactions, likes, shares, responses, and so on.
Measure the efforts of the program. Your executive group wants to see results, and they want to see the impact of your overall social media program before they justify further spending. It's crucial to build measurement into your program from the start, so you can prove your programs are driving the results you need!
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Nick Cifuentes is the global social media director at Ancestry.com, the world's largest online resource for family history, with 2 million paying subscribers as of July 2012. An industry veteran, Nick has worked in digital media and marketing since 2004, functioning in strategy, copywriting, analytics, search, planning, online media, and social media. He is a frequent guest writer on various industry blogs, and publishes his own blogs as well, including one focusing on digital media, and another on his side passion, ultramarathon running.