Who Are Brand Advocates and Where to Find for Them

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Imagine the situation - you are choosing a fitness club because decided to devote more time to health and ask your Facebook network for advice. Why not search in Google? Because people, by their nature, trust personal recommendations more. According to statistics, it is about 90%.

What happens next? Everyone will briefly talk about their fitness clubs, someone will say that he goes to a particular club only for personal training, and he likes this place mostly because of the coach, someone will say that he goes to his fitness club because there are favorable conditions, well, someone will not only talk about his fitness club but also share impressions of the workouts, describe in detail which workouts are cooler and why and also show a couple of photos. What would attract your attention most? Where the conviction was more emotional the influence was more powerful (by default, each of the recommended fitness clubs was in the same price segment and in the same accessibility). No one can resist the brand advocate :)


Who are brand advocates and how do they differ from other clients? First, by their desire to share the knowledge about your product or service. According to statistics, they are 2-3 times more effective

Communities empower individuals by making them seen and heard by solving problems, answering the questions and take leadership initiative. Empowered individuals are engaged, and highly productive, this has a positive impact on brand culture. 

In addition, brand advocates are tended to spend more than average customers, because they are more loyal and, accordingly, stay with the brand longer. 

Despite the obvious benefits, do you often hear the term “brand advocate” in your business network? Statistics show that about 80% of companies don’t leverage advocates in marketing.

Brand Advocates vs. Brand Ambassadors vs Influencers

To continue this topic, let’s clear the “brand advocate” definition. Some people may mix it up with brand ambassadors or influencers. So, how do they differ? Brand advocates have a strong long-term positive effect on your business. And good news is that they do it for free. However, to get your brand advocates is not an easy task. It must be a well-planned strategy of working with your existing customers.


How to turn average users into brand advocates?

The businesses are obviously in need of brand advocates. But where do they come from? Or do they need to “grow” them? Before turning into a brand advocate, the client goes a long way, which in general looks something like this:

 

 didn’t hear about the company ->  saw an advertisement, went to see the site -> read about the brand on the company’s news portal/blog ->  made the first purchase, was satisfied -> wrote to technical support for help, was satisfied -> made a second purchase,  was satisfied -> became ready to recommend the brand to friends -> recommended the brand to friends -> became a brand advocate.  

 

It is not difficult to notice that the condition “was satisfied” is very important all the way. But this is not the only factor that turns the buyer into a brand advocate. Every business does its best for creating high-quality service, so does it mean that brand advocates will appear by themselves? Obviously, high quality helps brands to gain loyal customers, but the creation of a brand advocate army, especially, its management, requires additional work. Let’s take a look on steps it consists of:

1. Identify potential advocates

This step completely dependent on the data you have. You need to find your clients who recommend your brand to their friends, write positive reviews or share their experience of using your product/service. The easiest way to do so is to track mentions of your page on social media, but there are still plenty of forums where your brand could be also mentioned. To check this automatically, you need to use various third-party services. 

You also can use your internal data. Look through the clients who make purchases on a regular basis - there are a lot of potential brand advocates. 

 

2. Personal contact

When you know your brand advocates, move on to the next step. The main goal here is to show your gratitude for loyalty and positive feedback. The first and obvious way to do so replies on page mentions in social media. Also, you can go further and develop a  joint marketing collaboration.

 

3. Marketing activities

Brand advocates are the first participants and “drivers” of your promotional campaigns. Therefore, if you know who they are and have direct access to them, consider that you have trump cards in your hands :) Such an audience will be the first among those who fulfill the conditions of the competition, quest or challenge. They will actively invite their friends. And here it is important not to forget to provide this group with some special gifts or privileges. A sense of significance, exclusivity, and special status are the most valuable emotions that your brand can provide to its brand advocates.

How to automate collaboration with brand advocates?

Should brand advocate management be time-consuming? The answer is simple - it should not. You can simplify the search and interaction flow if you gather your customers on your own platform and, thus, gain access to more data. And yes, here we are talking about the online community platform :)

To understand how much simpler this process could be, just imagine that the entire customer journey runs on your platform and all the data is collected in one place. In addition, there is a so-called “network effect” - open communication among existing customers each other or product team brings more trust to potential customers. When users can exchange experiences, read answers to similar problems, advise something on their own, their brand loyalty increases, as people tend to trust more other people than the official company’s representatives.

 

Here is a small example of how an online community can be integrated into a “customer journey” of your product and increase conversions at each step:

 

  1. Sasha loves photography and wants to develop her skills and buy a professional photo camera 

  2. She does not know yet which model to buy and goes to Google to read the recommendations. 

  3. After typing the phrase “best professional photo camera” on the first page, there was a link to the community forum, where participants shared their feedback and tips that she was interested in.

  4. Also, on this page were similar discussions about specific photo tricks, comparisons of different camera models, tutorials and a lot of other interesting information. Content that was actively discussed by online community members. 

  5. In one of the discussions, Sasha saw a question where she had an answer, so she decided to share it. 

  6. Quickly registering, she wrote a comment. Immediately after the registration, she received an automatic welcome notification saying that as a new member, Sasha is entitled to a 5% discount on her first purchase on the site.

  7. This community was a part of the online store of photo equipment, so Sasha applied the discount and bought her first professional photo camera there.

 

Of course, this customer journey is very simplified, but it shows in general how the community can bring additional value to the business.  As a client, Sasha came through a “free” organic traffic. It is also important to mention that her decision was based not only by the fact of the presence of the community itself but also by the content quality, the participants' activity, a clear UX and timely communication.

 

In addition to the first purchase, having the user's data and statistics of their activity in the community, the online store can give Sasha a personal bonus on her birthday and offer a product that complements her previous purchase. With the help of gamification and the system of accumulating points, you can give bonuses and privileges that will turn the client into a brand advocate. The identification of potential brand advocates has now narrowed to one platform. A personal contact switched from a one-time reply to a personal message with bonuses. Activity marketing can be tracked more efficiently. It is possible to automatically track actions and give instant rewards. And all those activities run inside your own online community!

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