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SpirE-Journal 2012 Q4

Side Click: Nurturing your brand advocates

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Side Click: Nurturing your brand advocates


Why is there an increasing importance on nurturing brand advocates?

In an age where traditional mass-marketing models are being challenged by social media, organizations are starting to realize the huge importance of cultivating a strong pool of brand advocates who promote their brands and products through positive word-of-mouth. Many customer research studies now include a measure for the potential pool of brand advocates.

A recent survey indicates that users who ‘like’ and ‘subscribe’ to a brand’s Facebook page can be considered to be genuine brand advocates. The study suggests that up to 92% of them would ‘certainly’ or ‘probably’ recommend their ‘likes’ to their friends.

Brand advocates are individuals who speak favorably about a brand or product, and pass on positive word-of-mouth messages to others.

Hewlett-Packard’s relationship-building on LinkedIn

HP, the world’s biggest IT company, has created a company page on LinkedIn that allows members to post recommendations about its products. These recommendations are visible on both the member’s page and company’s page, thereby influencing a larger audience.

Domino’s’ Social Networking on Facebook

Domino’s, a leading pizza delivery company, has spread its wings far and wide on Facebook, allowing its ‘fans’ to win prizes and vouchers through regular offers and contests.

Who are brand advocates?

Anyone can be an advocate. Two major groups of brand advocates are:

Employees

Employees represent the brand with every move they make in the workplace. It is essential to have employees who promote the brand — both inside and outside the organization.

Customers

Satisfied customers will speak for your brand and promote it on their own accord. Research has shown that not only do they spend more than the average customer – they also influence others to buy.

Advantages of having brand advocates

There are many advantages, both tangible and intangible, that brand advocates can bring to an organization.

According to a recent survey, brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a reliable source of information and are 50% more likely to create content that influences a purchase.
Brand advocates help spread positive word-of-mouth through personal user experiences. They may also defend the organization in times of crisis.
Brand advocates may be a source of market intelligence. Whenever they engage in discussions on the organization’s products, they may interact with the competitors’ advocates too. Organizations may be able to garner important insights from both advocates and competitors through these discussions.
How are customers converted into brand advocates?

The process can be summed up in three steps:

1. Build a community
It is essential to create a platform which acts as a community. This is the site where brand advocates can share opinions, knowledge, experiences and insights as well as engage with other customers or fans. This may also help to convert other individuals into advocates. Online platforms are most common but other platforms may include clubs and recurring events.

2. Incentivize
It is vital to make brand advocates feel important to the organization. To better encourage brand advocates, organizations can credit them and post their insights on websites and social media platforms. Above all, their views should be considered – and be seen to be considered – in making product and campaign decisions. Many firms now run formal opinion leader and advocate cultivation programs.

3. Testimonials
Testimonials are not just an advertising tool. By asking for testimonials, an organization can discover brand advocates’ opinions and ideas for improvement. They should be fully informed about the objective of such testimonials, to increase their comfort level in sharing them.

Brand advocates are powerful ambassadors. Organizations need to continually seek out new platforms to identify them, cultivate them and convert more individuals. This is not always easy. Brand advocates tend to have strong opinions of their own, unlike traditional customers who merely react to being offered a better deal. The subtle art of engaging brand advocates with a light touch and yet keeping them “on-side” will be a major dimension of marketing excellence in the 21st century.

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