According to Urban Dictionary, a "Belieber" is one who is an obsessive fan of Justin Bieber; a person who loves Justin Bieber and believes in everything he can do. This mashup of believer and Bieber may be an extreme example of fandom, but it is a powerful one. It's easy to dismiss Beliebers as just teenage lunatics, but these "lunatics" are exactly what's missing from many of today's brands -- Passionate Advocates.
Justin Bieber has a fan base that is widely known as passionate and captivated, and more than willing to advocate on his behalf. Brands have traditionally used top-down marketing strategies such as advertising, PR, events/sponsorships or direct marketing, but advocacy is a relatively new venture for many organizations. An advocacy-focused marketing strategy helps brands to build the equivalent of Justin Bieber's avid "Belieber" fan base. With over 46 million Twitter followers who retweet, comment and repost his content, we have from a marketing perspective a perfect example of brand advocacy at work. He engages with his fans regularly to develop a relationship with them, fostering advocates who readily market on his behalf. They attend his events, market his products to their network and start their own communities to engage with likeminded fans. Most marketers would agree that brand advocacy programs are a good idea but the ultimate challenge is finding customers that are willing to display their passion for your brand. Social media has definitely made it easier for brand advocates to share their opinions. But what truly drives people to express their passion and trust for a brand and how can marketers encourage them to remain advocates?
Here are some simple steps to create a customer advocacy program that will generate the genuine passion your brand needs while helping your brand to achieve company growth and awareness:
Attracting and driving passion for brands takes time and genuine commitment. The challenge for marketers is to find and build relationships with key influencers, sustaining those relationships through engagement, and then measuring the results to show effectiveness. When engaging their audience, brands need to focus on staying visible across multiple channels, being relevant by providing content that matters and responding to advocates with authenticity. These are the key ingredients for a successful customer advocacy program and, once mastered, passion will be ignited and your regular brand believers will be transformed into "Beliebers."
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Russ Fradin is the co-founder of Dynamic Signal and a digital media industry veteran with more than 15 years' experience in the online marketing world. Russ co-founded and was CEO of Adify (acquired by Cox for $300 million in May 2008) and co-founded SocialShield. He was also SVP of BD at Wine.com, EVP of Corporate Development at comScore (NASDAQ:SCOR) and was among the first employees at Flycast (acquired by CMGi for $2.3 billion in January 2000). Russ is also an active angel investor in the digital world and is on a number of boards. Russ holds a BS in Economics from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
March 19, 2014