Discover how to unlock more sales opportunities by turning your customers into powerful brand advocates.
Fifteen years ago, businesses relied heavily on word-of-mouth to advertise and promote their products and services. As the proliferation of the internet has turned the business world into a cyber universe, word-of-mouth has evolved into a virtual reality. Chat has become chatter, tweeting is no longer just for birds, and sharing is about so much more than handing out cola bottles to your mates.
Internet users who advocate your brand online by sharing and recommending your products are one of your strongest marketing assets. So much so that recommendations from friends and family are now trusted by 92% of consumers, compared to just 47% who trust more traditional forms of advertising such as television and newspaper ads.
These powerful influencers can have a significant impact on your brand awareness and reputation, and – by extension – your bottom line. But how can we identify and support this army of unpaid workers, and how can we help to swell their numbers?
Quality not Quantity
Firstly, it’s important to understand that not everyone who clicks on your website, or writes a one-off glowing review about your product, graduates to the status of brand advocate (although it’s a good start). An effective brand advocate is likely to be an avid user of social media who shares thoughts and opinions (which are respected) with a wide network of connections. Here are some interesting stats to support this idea:
- 6.2% of online consumers create 80% of all influence impressions according to Forrester’s Peer Influence Analysis.
- According to a report by Meteor Solutions, 1% of a site's audience can generate as much as 20% of a site's traffic through the sharing of a link or content with others.
3 steps to maximising the influence of your brand advocatesFind them
Analyse the behaviour of your most loyal customers and fans to identify users who frequently share your content and comment on your social media posts. In addition, there are a number of great social analytics tools available (such as Klout and Traackr) to help you identify users who wield influence over your brand.Get to know them
Once you have identified your network of advocates, it’s important to foster a relationship with them in order to understand their key motivations and to thank them for going the extra mile. Engage in conversations with them (if they comment, comment back), thank them for sharing your posts and tweets, and ask them for ideas and suggestions. Above all, let it be known that you appreciate their support.Reach out to them and encourage them to exert more influence
Brand advocacy is not just a one-way street. If someone is making a big effort to promote your brand, you can help them as well by sharing their content and re-tweeting their tweets. In addition, motivate and reward your advocates with exclusive competitions, offers and discounts. Invite them to produce a video testimonial or guest blog on your site; really show them that you appreciate their support and make them feel part of the family.
If you haven’t yet created a strategy for identifying, motivating and encouraging your brand advocates, then now is the time to start. As the following stats show, there is no more powerful way to blow one’s own trumpet than to have someone else do it for you:
- 48% of consumers think social media posts created by others in their networks are a good way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers.
- 73% of consumers say positive customer reviews make them trust a business more (up from 58% in 2012).