Why brand advocates are great for social media marketing

Having people who can voluntarily endorse your company can work wonders for brand visibility, says Kath Dawson.

Everyone knows that using social media is a well-established form of marketing and communication in the digital marketing circuit, used by businesses big and small around the world, and that having a solid content plan for your website is essential in keeping ahead of the competition. But what should be the ultimate goal in pairing the two together?

Two words: brand advocates.

Brand advocates are individuals, or other enterprises, which represent either a business’s customer base, or are key influencers in their industry sector, who will voluntarily endorse a brand whether it’s via social media the blogosphere or word of mouth.

Having people and businesses waxing lyrical over a brand can do wonders for that brand’s reputation, traffic and even impact positively on conversion rate too. But how can the power of social media and creative content be leveraged to harness these brand advocates? 

The content

Firstly, the digital content a business creates and publishes on their site is absolutely key as it represents the bridge between customers and how those customers’ interests are represented in the digital world. Rather than a slapdash blog, this content needs to be something that is genuinely useful, offers a different or interesting insight and of course must be completely original.

For example, a business which specialises in making board games could create a long-form editorial feature which outlines the history and origins of the board game. There might well be some fascinating events that took place which could get people engaged with it in a positive way and start talking about it.

Content isn’t just confined to blog posts. It can span across to handy tools like dynamic calculators, infographics, stop-motion videos and even parallaxes. However, a fundamental aspect to all content created should be that it has a unique selling point. Without this, it becomes difficult to attract the interest of users and consumers alike.

The social sharing

Once you have created attractive and useful content, it needs to be optimised through sharing.

More specifically though, you want it to reach the people who will really care about it and there are a few ways in which this can be done.

Firstly it is vital to remember that not all audiences and sectors will suit all social media channels. Clear aims and objectives need to be set in for each social media platform. As with the board game business example, it is more likely to get engagement from a Facebook brand page than a LinkedIn page as board games are generally aimed  more at families than business professionals – in other words, people tend not to use LinkedIn for non-work purposes.

Once the appropriate social media strategy and platforms have been decided upon, the brand voice or ‘persona’ should be created as social media is a key communication platform between a business and a consumer, so a common ground or trust needs to be established.  It also is a deciding factor in gaining brand advocates.

There is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for an effective brand voice since it needs to reflect that of the business and how it wants to be perceived. Having said that, there are a few overarching points that all businesses, regardless of their sector should consider is their quest to gain an effective voice.

  • When dealing with customers in social media conversations, always sign off with a name. If customers are given a name it shows, first of all, an establishment of trust and secondly a point of reference for future communication. People are more likely to want to talk to a ‘Julie’ from Board Games Ltd than a faceless brand name.
  • Create a specific social media voice and personality, which humanises a brand by adding humour and empathy, allowing for better quality conversations and interactions.
  • Showing a willingness to listen and asking questions will show that a business is happy to address issues and take care of customers.  In an extremely competitive marketplace, this type of customer care stands out and helps differentiate one business from another.

After a brand voice is configured, effective social sharing of a business’s content can commence. Remembering that content needs to have a unique selling point, now is the time to shout about it. Twitter only gives you 140 characters in an update so mastering the art of succinctly promoting content, preferably in several ways, is essential.

Adding vibrant, colourful images to updates is another way of maximising potential for engagement too. This is especially true for Google+, which perhaps represents the best avenue for getting brand advocates, and statistics show that embedding images onto tweets improves retweets 150 per cent, favourites by 89 per cent and an 18 per cent increase in clicks.

Getting the brand advocates

At the stage whereby creative content has been completed and promoted through the right social medium with the right brand voice, the question is what next?  

There is still a little more a business needs to do before it can acquire brand advocates: it needs to identify them and nurture them.

Brand advocates generally come in the shape of customers who love your brand who will tell their friends and family how great your brand is. But ideally for a brand capitalise on the leverage brand advocacy can offer they should aim to have some brand advocates who comprise industry experts and who command a lot of influence (whether that’s through the amount of people who follow them or because of their occupation) and will have a reason to be genuinely interested in a business’s product/service.

The aim is to turn these targets into people who are more than willing to promote and advertise your business without ever asking for it. Ways to do this could include:

  • Offering sample products to review if they’re a blogger/journalist in your sector.
  • Providing discounts so that these targets are more acutely aware of what a business has to offer.
  • Asking for opinions. Flattery will go a long way and if a person feels they have a relationship based on a mutual interest, they will be more likely to promote it.
  • Taking the conversation over to a direct message medium rather than on a public forum like Twitter can enhance the relationship. If interaction is carried on via private email, the brand advocate target would feel pleased to think that a brand has singled them out as an important contact and opinion former.

In all, every business large or small can have its own brand advocates but the difficulty in attracting these people can vary significantly across industry sector as well as the size of a business.

If time, dedication and strategy is employed in attracting brand advocates, through the use of content and social media, the time and resources invested in this can pay dividends. 

Further reading on social media

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