3 Steps to Recognising Brand Advocates
In a recent article about marketing priorities for 2014, I stressed the importance of understanding and promoting customer loyalty. ‘Brand advocates’ have always been important to businesses, but in a world where the consumer control much more of the conversation than ever before, they have never been so valuable. The Holy Grail for all brands is for their consumers to pick up, share and positively comment on everything they do online – fundamentally ‘doing your marketing’ for you.
But before you can start working towards improving customer loyalty, you first need to identify who your brand advocates are, how, where and why they engage with you online, and what made them brand advocates in the first place.
Although this will undoubtedly be more difficult for some businesses than others, social media channels provide a great opportunity to learn a lot. Here are some simple steps to help get you started.
1. Search and listen
Take a look back at the last few months of your social media activity. Who has been liking, commenting, retweeting, sharing and replying to your posts? Keep track of this and look for trends and correlations.
Alongside this, search for mentions of your brand and products that may not be directed towards you. It’s just as important to know who is talking about you as it is to know who is engaging directly with you. If they aren’t already, all these people could potentially become brand advocates.
2. Stimulate conversation
Regardless of whether no one, a few people, or a lot of people are talking about your brand, you need to maximise the opportunities for engagement. Be visible – if you have an offline presence (shop, restaurant etc), make sure it’s easy for your offline customers to talk with and about you online during and after their visit. People should be able to easily check in on Facebook or Foursquare, mention you on Twitter etc. Customers are much more likely to engage with your brand if you are currently top-of-mind.
Different people use social media in different ways, and some of your brand advocates won’t think to engage with you on these channels without a gentle prompt. Incentivise them to pick up their phones and get involved in the conversation – it could be beneficial to both of you…
Most people now recognise that social is not a ‘numbers game’. Every follower or connection has a different value, and having fewer valuable contacts is better than lots of less valuable ones.
The likelihood is that you’ll have a mixture of follower types, so it’s important to recognise which can offer the most value as brand advocates. In a perfect world you would engage and converse with everyone who is talking to and about your brand, but for many companies that is not logistically possible.
If you have to choose who to engage with, make sure you base your decision on the right factors – how influential are they, how engaged are they with their audiences, how solid is their loyalty to your brand? All these factors govern how you should prioritise building your loyalty numbers.
Once you have a better handle on your audience, you will find it much easier to create content that they are more likely to positively share with their own networks. To find out more about the power of brand advocacy, take a look at this article about driving word of mouth.
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