Year after year, social proof continues to be an excellent tactic for selling products and services. People tend to prefer the recommendations of their family, friends, and co-workers.
That’s why over time, brands have come to rely upon the idea of social media brand advocacy as an essential component of their marketing strategy.
The idea of social media brand advocacy depends upon the relationship between the customers and the brand. It is a vocal expression of the value the customers derive from the brand.
In this blog, I will go through social media brand advocacy basics and then outline an action plan that you can use to build a customer-powered advocacy program for your brand.
It is essential to understand that social media advocacy programs require consistent time and effort.
What Is Social Media Brand Advocacy?
In simple terms, social media brand advocacy is the idea of leveraging the good sentiments and positive brand association of the social media users to grow brand reach and traction.
In essence, the idea is to delight customers with your services to the extent where the costumes begin recommending them during social media discussions. The customers who recommend your products are known as brand advocates. In terms of marketing, they are among the most significant assets any brand could hope for.
The interesting fact about customer advocacy is that not all satisfied customers would be your advocates. Only a tiny number would actually recommend your products or services, and the number would fluctuate as users move on, and new users come in to replace them. However, in general, if all other things remain constant, the impact remains the same because 82% of people seek recommendations from friends and family before they make a purchase. Similarly, Around 92% of people say they trust brand advocates over brand influencers, while 18% say they trust brand influencers.
Over time, as brands nurture these advocates, the brand visibility increases as the recommendations spread out to the groups and channels. Influencers often jump on the bandwagon as they see your brand mentioned more and more in the discussion.
Influencers open up a whole new dimension of social media brand advocacy. Influencers offer access to their audience that is often untapped market segments for the brands. At this stage, brands can increase their reach and see an immediate outcome regarding website visits and sales.
It simply means leveraging the social accounts of people who either like your brand or somehow have been affected by your brand’s persona in a way that they share or promote your brand through their social media.
Now, these people are the untapped force that can spread your message to a greater audience by sharing it through their network. They can be anyone who talks about your brand proactively or support it for the greater good. These people are called your “brand advocates,” and they are your greatest fans and supporters.
They help create brand awareness and spread a positive image of your brand in their community. They have a greater reach, and their feedback is more credible among the audience since they mostly share their views due to the value they have been provided.
Why Does Your Brand Need Brand Advocacy?
Even if you have the best product or services lined up in the industry, you might get the visibility you are hoping for because brand visibility is everything in today’s cutthroat competition.
To make your brand stand out in the backdrop of your industry, you need the massive impact and footprint of social media to bring visitors to your landing pages. More importantly, you need to make sure your brand is viewed by new audiences regularly.
This strategy is organic and helps you create a community of loyal customers and individuals who are passionate about your brand. They believe in your company’s mission and products and endorse them without being paid directly.
These community members share their overall experience with others and help your brand become more attractive to other users with their honest opinions and suggestions. Potential customers include these opinions in their decision-making process because they understand that they are not paid for their opinions.
Convert Visitors Into Advocates
Use our social media scheduler to target the right audience at the right time and build your community of brand advocates.
The Benefits of Social Media Brand Advocacy
Even when brands understand the importance of social media in marketing, they are usually hesitant to launch a social media brand advocacy program because they are not aware of the benefits or wish to dedicate resources to kickstart the campaign.
Whatever the case may be, customer advocacy brings in a lot of benefits that the brand could experience over months as the initiative snowballs and takes on a life of its own.
Adds a Human Touch
Social media advocates for any brand are everyday users who have their style of commenting and discussing ideas. In many cases, this pattern is different from the brand’s posts.
This variety adds a human touch to the discussions where any reader could see all viewpoints presented by actual people. In such cases, the principle of social proof takes over and influences the users’ decisions.
Extended Media Coverage
Given the vastness of the popular social media platforms, any campaign, regardless of the resources, could only get so much coverage. However, when the customers and the fanboys start to take over and spread the word, the coverage grows exponentially.
This results in much broader coverage for the products and services in channels and groups where the brand’s social media team is not present. As a result, the brand starts getting coverage from journalists who cover technology and online business.
Advocacy Requires Next To No Budget
For a business, social media marketing is a serious investment that takes up a significant chunk out of the marketing budget. Now, since social media advocates mention and discuss the brand for nothing, the social media advocacy programs at this stage costs nothing. Many brands decide to stop at that and focus on improving their services to continue enjoying the free publicity.
On the other hand, some brands want to take it a notch up and invest in influencer marketing to level up their social media presence. This requires some investment as influencers are paid, brand ambassadors. However, this investment comes out of the social media marketing budget and offers a good ROI.
Great Content For Free
It is common to see users upload great images and videos to reinforce their point or get the attention of other users on social media platforms. This user-generated content could include references to brands and their services. You can streamline this process with the help of a dedicated social media advocacy program that curates user-generated content and gets in touch with popular content creators.
This user-generated content gets reshared and promoted across the platforms and delivers excellent exposure to the brand’s strengths. Now note that the reviews are double-edged swords and could damage the reputation of the brand. In such cases, the social media team or the community can reach out to discuss ideas for rectification.
Brands Experience Organic Growth
Regardless of the industry and niche, organic growth is harder to achieve because of the stiff competition. Thus, the brands have to invest in performance marketing tactics (such as PPC and affiliate marketing) that could incur huge investments for expected ROI.
By leveraging social media advocates, brands set up a high-performing organic growth channel that requires little financial input and could have a serious impact on the growth numbers. When potential customers search for reviews and recommendations, the opinions of the social media advocates have a huge influence on the decisions and thus on the growth of the brand.
Who Can Be a Brand Advocate?
Generally speaking, a brand advocate can either be a customer or an employee, since these are the only two types who have actionable knowledge of the brand’s products or services. As such, they can provide honest opinions and suggestions to people seeking out recommendations.
Customers are the most significant part of your brand advocacy. If they have chosen your product, they must have their reasons and they would defend those during the social media discussions.
The love they have for your brand is due to the value they feel they get out of it. This results in a high level of trust in your current and future products. Continued customer satisfaction and trust eventually convert them into your brand advocates.
Similarly, employees are also dedicated to promoting your brand. Just like customers, they have a special place for your company in their hearts. They are the ones who are making it possible for your brand to evolve and are constantly sharing content and information related to your brand on their networks, which helps increase brand awareness.
How To Start A Brand Advocacy Program?
By now you have a clear idea of the impact of brand advocacy on the brand’s reputation and performance. However, since the idea is not generally a part of digital marketing planning, many brands remain confused about where to start?
Don’t worry – we have got you covered. Here are a few tips that will help you start a social media brand advocacy program.
Figure Out Your Goals
Before doing anything, make sure you have complete clarity about what you wish to do and how you want to do it. Goal setting allows you to set up an advocacy program that produces measurable results for your brand.
When planning, make sure you know your objective, what you want to achieve with your brand advocacy, and what KPIs would measure the effectiveness and results. Brand advocacy can cover various aspects of marketing and sales, and I suggest you start with the following KPIs:
- Brand Mentions
- Effect on website traffic and source of traffic
- Post engagements
- Effect on lead generation
Utilize Existing Brand Advocates
If you have been in the market for about a year, the chances are that some of the customers are already talking about your brand. To discover them, use social listening tools to monitor mentions of your brand.
You could find out the people (or other brands) who are liking or commenting on content related to your brand. It is always a good practice to participate in the discussions and engage with these advocates to encourage them.
Even though brand advocacy works organically and generally, the advocates share their content without expecting anything in return. You should incentivize them to appreciate the effort they are putting in to promote your brand.
These rewards don’t have to be extravagant – a simple reshare or a shout-out from the official accounts is enough to appreciate their efforts. This drives a sense of acknowledgment and helps empower other advocates. After a while, you might notice the start of a dedicated community that recommends and defends your brand on major social media channels.
Brand advocacy is now an essential part of the more extensive digital marketing strategies. Many brands include it as a part of their overall social media strategy to stand out and be present where the users are mentioning the competition.
Starting a social media brand advocacy program is easy, and you need to nurture a core group of advocates that recommend your brand during their social media interactions. This results in organic growth and brand traction that eventually benefits the financials of the business.
Let us know in the comments below if you have a brand advocacy program and how you plan to grow it.