When a brand is able to create positive buzz around their brand by just mentioning a product enhancement or product drop, you know they have a great marketing strategy behind them. But how are some brands, like Apple, able to attract new customers and elevate their positioning in the market with a simple announcement? One way is through brand advocacy.
Brand advocacy is when individuals who love your brand share their positive sentiment about your product or service to their followers and audience. These are loyal brand followers who can sing your praises.
Harnessing and amplifying this advocacy should be an integral part of your social media marketing strategy. And, with the right brand advocacy strategy, you can realize a stunning ROI.
In this article, we define what brand advocacy is, examine different types of brand advocates, and highlight the many benefits of brand advocacy. We also show you how to measure the effectiveness of your program.
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What is a brand advocate?
Brand advocacy occurs when people become excited about your product or service and they share that excitement with others. This could be through word-of-mouth, or by posting to their social media networks, in blog posts, on review sites and other corners of the internet.
But did you know customer service is a huge part of brand advocacy? When you please your customers and clients, they will be more likely to share their experience with you with others.
But brand advocates aren’t limited to customers. In fact, there are several groups of individuals who can be advocates for your brand, including employees and partners.
The best thing about brand advocacy is that it costs little to nothing to obtain. Even if you have yet to launch a brand advocacy program, you likely already have advocates working on your behalf. They post positive content about your brand simply because they love what you offer.
Is brand advocacy right for you?
Brand advocacy can be one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. With it you can extend your reach, find new audiences, generate leads and find top talent all while amplifying brand awareness. Enthusiastic brand advocates can help new brands get before larger and more engaged audiences. With the boost by advocacy, brands can magnify their market share much more easily, faster and farther.
For customers it’s about products, services and customer service. It’s about the relationships brands develop with their customers through engaging with them on social media or other customer care channels.
For employees it’s about loving their work, the company culture and, of course, the product.
Advocates can create enough buzz on social media to reinvigorate a brand’s position in the market. Of course, you still need a great product or service for people to get excited about.
More and more people are turning to social media to research products and services. Studies show that the vast majority of people will trust recommendations from people they know. So think word-of-mouth, and reviews and ratings as well.
And, considering most of this type of organic marketing is free, or of little cost to you, brand advocacy has a lot to offer any brand.
Who is a brand advocate?
Clients and customers
These are some of your best brand advocates. Their user generated content (UGC) is considered to be much more authentic than brand messaging. Their contacts, family and friends trust this content. In fact, recommendations of this type, earned media, are trusted by 92% of consumers around the world beyond all other types of advertising. And 70% of consumers will trust other consumers’ opinions posted online.
This type of advocate works for you right now because they love your product or service. They do this without any thought of reward. Imagine what they could do for you with a little incentive.
Employees know all about your company, your product or service and your culture. This makes them powerful brand advocates, and perfect to represent you to consumers and potential hires. Not only does this increase brand awareness, but it helps bring in top talent. And, research by LinkedIn has shown that employees have an average of 10 times the connections as their company’s Page followers. This means that what your employees post about the company reaches 10 times more people, and their message can continue beyond that. By encouraging your employees to share news, updates and successes, your brand’s reach can extend to audiences you might not have been able to reach before.
Any other organization or company affiliated with your brand can also be a brand advocate. What they say or post about you can improve brand awareness and influence buying decisions. Think: comarketing or cobranding campaigns with your industry partners as an opportunity to also increase your reach.
Influencers make great brand advocates because of their large audiences. Harnessing them as part of your marketing and advocacy strategy allows you to target audiences who are interested in your brand’s offerings. Influencers as brand advocates can help you raise brand awareness in specific markets and help you capture a new cohort of consumers.
What does brand advocacy look like?
Some ways clients and customers advocate are by talking up your product or service in person and online and by posting positive reviews. They act as your customer service representatives by answering questions for other customers. Whether on your website or elsewhere, this is powerful PR for you. But how can you harness this advocacy and amplify it?
First, you need to find out who you already have as advocates. Look for those who are leaving positive reviews. Who is liking and sharing your content? Who is producing content about your brand? One excellent way to identify brand advocates is through social listening. Sprout Social’s Social Listening tools let you search for specific terms and hashtags related to your company. You will then be able to tap into conversations online.
Once you have an idea who your advocates and audience are, offer incentives for further engagement. Some incentives could include running social media contests, sending company swag, or shout-outs on the company website or social media.
To maintain relationships with current or prospective advocates, respond to reviews, comments and posts quickly. Provide excellent customer service. Conduct surveys and ask for reviews in newsletters, chats, receipts and phone call confirmations. Google provides an easy way for you to get Google reviews through a direct link.
Remember, with brand advocates, it’s all about the relationships you forge.
When we talk about employee advocacy, it’s a bit different. What is employee advocacy? As mentioned earlier, your employees are some of your best advocates because they know about your brand inside out. Some will already be posting about you, but you could harness their networks to increase brand awareness, create a wider personal network for sales team members, and showcase subject-matter expertise for industry leaders. Having employees in an employee advocacy program will be to your benefit.
Data from Sprout’s Employee Advocacy Report reveal that 72% of all employees would post company content on their personal pages if their company wrote it for them. And engaged users (spending 60 minutes or more daily on social media) are 11% more likely to post this content than casual users.
In their role to increase brand awareness, 73% of employees (engaged users) believed that posting company content helped. And 72% believed that it helped them in their social selling. It’s clear from these employee advocacy stats how valuable an employee advocacy program is.
The easiest way to institute such an advocacy program is to use Sprout’s Employee Advocacy. With Advocacy platform, you can provide curated, branded content to your team that they can share with a click or two. You can even create approved message ideas for your employees so they can post with confidence that they are staying on-brand.
With Advocacy by Sprout Social, it’s easy to upload photos, videos and links for your employees to share to their networks. And, you can use the “Send to Advocacy” feature from within Sprout to duplicate social posts you’re already sharing to your brand’s social networks.
Why brand advocacy matters for your company
1. Improved brand perception
Brand advocacy improves how people view your company. It increases trust. Instead of your company, a “real person” – a customer, employee or influencer – is extolling the virtues of your company, product or services.
2. Reflection of brand authenticity
For the same reason, people see the information provided by the advocate as more authentic. This reflects well on your company, conferring authenticity to your brand by virtue of this perception.
3. More organic brand awareness
Advocates provide an organic way to grow brand awareness. Brand advocacy creates positive, enthusiastic conversation around your products and services. This is invaluable to increasing your visibility, which can lead to more leads, sales, hiring prospects and growth for your company.
4. Higher likelihood of media attention
The more conversation your advocates generated about you, the more likely the media will notice you. News outlets and publications may start writing about you because of all the talk. Not only does this attention open the potential for new and broader audiences, but it also helps boost your brand’s trust levels in the community.
5. Wider audience reach
Your reach becomes more extensive with brand advocacy. Brand advocates post excited, positive content about your product or services to their own social networks. This gives you access to their friends, family and followers, and to untapped markets.
6. Saves you money
With all this free or low investment marketing, brand advocacy saves you money. Imagine what it would cost you to produce all that organic marketing yourself. This is money you can allocate elsewhere, if needed. Despite what advocacy programs might cost initially to implement, the ROI would be more than worth it.
In fact, read how we use Sprout’s Advocacy to overcome social media challenges and its payoff.
How to determine if brand advocacy is effective
It’s important to have clear goals for your advocacy program. Once those are set, you can better determine which metrics you need to track. Some common metrics that help determine generally if your advocacy program is effective are
- Number of likes, shares, impressions, hashtags and mentions, as a measure of brand awareness
- Number of likes, shares, clicks and comments, as a measure of social engagement
- Conversion rates based on completed CTAs
- Number of posts and actions of your advocates, which relates to your overall reach. It gives you a sense of an advocate’s number of connections
- Online reviews and ratings, as they affect buying decisions
- Where your advocates are posting, as this helps understand which channels work best
- Net Promoter Score (NPS), at minimum a measurement of customer loyalty, helps to predict the number of brand advocates you have
- Earned media, which is publicity or media generated by organic means aside from your marketing efforts
- Employee conversion rate, as the percentage of employees actually participating in your employee advocacy program
Sprout’s Employee Advocacy measures shares, engagements, potential reach and earned media value automatically. With this dynamic tool you can monitor effectiveness in real-time.
And with Sprout’s Advocacy ROI Calculator Tool you can clearly see the benefits of your program.
Amplify brand advocacy on social media to launch your brand to the next level
Brand advocates work for you enthusiastically with or without incentives. Why not take this enthusiasm and ensure that it not only continues, but intensifies? Getting your social advocates to continue and even increase their efforts on your behalf can be as easy as posting their UGC on your company’s social accounts. How far will your social advocacy strategy take you?
With the might of your employee advocates behind you, you can use advocacy to overcome social media challenges. Your social strategy ROI and organic reach can be dramatically improved with brand advocacy. Don’t you think it’s time you upped your advocacy game? Try with a free trial of Sprout Social today.