Brand advocacy is the process of employees or customers supporting and sharing brand related content. Brand advocates are often associated with the business. However they can also be individuals who value and support the brand, willing to publicly share and promote the brand’s values, philosophies, products or service with others. In the digital world of business and society today, brand advocacy is proving to be more powerful than marketing and advertising efforts, as much as 30% of internet users install ad blockers. This is one of the reasons that spreading business content through brand advocates is a more effective method to improving business exposure and brand reputation.
The more advocates a business has the more credible it is viewed in the public eye. Positive reviews or individuals sharing their experiences with a businesses products or service allow new or potential customers access to more information about the business. Brand advocates perceptions and opinions about a business service have more credibility than marketing campaigns by the business itself. Individuals who are not associated with the business hold more credibility in terms of sharing honest, objective and truthful experiences.
Trust for a business’s operations and the products or services they are trying to sell is so important. If a brand is viewed by the public to not be reliable and trustworthy, brand success is highly unlikely. Customers are more inclined to support businesses whose trust and reputation precedes them based on others’ shared experiences. In fact research shows that 88% of individuals trust other peoples reviews and personal experiences more than the information shared by business advertisements.
It’s no question that with regard to any topic in the public view, the more people talking about it- the more people it will reach. With regard to brand advocates and the trend of sharing views and opinions over social media, the reach of information is exponential. The average user on social media platforms like Instagram or Facebook is connected with more than 600 other individuals. Therefore for each advocate sharing content, the information has the potential to reach a minimum of 600 people.
Finding Brand Advocates
All businesses that want to improve their reach and credible, trusted information shared with potential customers, should invest in brand advocacy. Brand advocacy has proven to be a low-cost and effective method of gaining customers and increasing positive brand exposure. How can businesses effectively invest in brand advocacy as a powerful measure towards improved business success.
Division of Advocates
Having a variety of brand advocates from different aspects of your business allows for different perspectives.
➔ Employees and Business Partners
The first focus of brand advocates should be towards individuals already invested in the business operations, your employees and business partners. Involving business members in brand advocacy can increase the business social media reach by over 2000%. Due to these individuals caring about the performance of the business already, it’s likely to not be too difficult to involve them in the process.
Customers are not affiliated with the organisation and therefore, their opinions and voice with regard to business experience is highly valued (more so than those of individuals working for the organisation or influencers paid for their positive reviews). The problem with regard to brand exposure from customers is that when surveyed about positive versus negative reviews, the results stated that individuals are 5% more likely to share bad experiences with the public than good ones.
When customers are satisfied with their interactions with a business and the value of the service as well as the product, they can be willing to publicly share their experiences. However businesses need to play a role in encouraging them to do so.
Acquiring Reliable Advocates
After identifying the division of advocates available to an organisation the next move is towards the selection and acquisition of valuable advocates for the brand. There are many avenues to searching for, identifying and effectively acquiring brand advocates that will positively affect your organisation and brand. Acquiring brand advocates is unfortunately not as simple as randomly selecting a group of employees, business members and customers to promote the business image. The success of brand advocacy for your business strongly depends on the quality of the brand advocates you have.
Selecting employees that are the best suited for the programme involves surveying them with regard to their social media platform activity, how frequently they are using the platforms, how they interact with their friends or followers, and ultimately their interest in promoting the organisation through personal accounts.
Acquiring customers as loyal brand advocates is proven to be even more challenging than keeping your customer base satisfied. Creating and maintaining customer satisfaction is the basis for developing customers as brand advocates. Investing in a quality customer service team, interacting with customers on social media platforms and creating good relationships with your customers. This will make customers feel valued and they are then more inclined to share their good reviews with the organisation as well as with their friends, followers and families.
Creating loyalty and reward programs improves customer relationships. Over 70% of loyalty cardholders support businesses that have similar initiatives. Reward programs are a great way to build positive relationships with your customers, especially if they have had a past issue or concern with the business. Reaching customers through the internet, social media platforms and review websites is a great way to improve your understanding of users needs, their opinions and experiences with the organisation.
Above all what’s important to remember is users are only likely to grow into brand advocates if they are satisfied with how the organisation operates and support what the brand represents.
In conclusion, investing time and money into developing brand advocacy for your business can have an exponential effect on consumer reach. It also emphasises and consolidates the value and philosophy of the brand. Organic measures for encouraging individuals to support the business will ultimately improve overall business success in the marketplace. Brand advocacy is a chain reaction and setting up a good foundation for followers to support your business through digital platforms is really important for business power in the market.