How To: Recognize the Power of Brand Advocates
Posted By Keith Trivitt On September 6, 2012 @ 7:50 AM In Social Media | 1 Comment
For years, public relations professionals have known of the power of brand advocacy. But in the digital age brand advocacy is evolving into the realm and responsibility of nearly every type of digital marketer. Whether you’re working on a search marketing campaign or overseeing a client’s display strategy, every marketer needs to understand and believe in brand advocacy.
Thus, a recent eMarketer report, titled, “Brand Advocates: Scaling Social Media Word-of-Mouth ,” was a timely addition to marketers’ library. The report highlights the stunning growth of brand advocacy over the last five years while providing helpful tips companies can use to cultivate brand advocates and how to avoid common pitfalls of annoying those who most appreciate your brand.
Not surprisingly, the report’s executive summary sums up what most marketers already know: “Brand advocacy is becoming a critical part of the social media marketing mix.”
But there’s more than the obvious that underlies successful brand advocacy campaigns. Consumers aren’t just “liking” a brand and commenting about it on social networks for the fun of it. As eMarketer reports, they are doing so because many desire to see their favorite brands succeed. And that can have powerful positive effects on companies — if they respect and utilize their brand advocates properly.
One interesting point I took from the report was that while brand advocates are interested in companies’ content, more important is their loyalty to a brand. A CMO Council study  found that brand loyalty (48%) was far more important to brand advocates than whether a company had great content on its social networks (30%). This suggests that great content is helpful but being a great brand that your customers can feel proud to be associated with is more important.
So what makes for a successful brand advocacy program? And who are these “brand advocates” anyway? Let’s take a look:
eMarketer defines brand advocates as consumers who “use social media to not only interact with brand pages, but also to actively promote the brands, products and services they love.” They provide valuable insight to marketers about what is, and is not, working with a brand’s products and services and how the brand is being perceived outside of its four corporate walls.
eMarketer offers a great list of eight attributes marketers can use to recognize brand advocates.
So what’s the best way to reach, engage and cultivate brand advocates? Have a strategy. Don’t just rely on one program for all your brand advocates. Figure out how different groups respond to different promotions and communications and develop distinct campaigns based on that feedback.
In the digital age, brand advocates have asserted themselves as powerful forces in the consumer marketing space. Marketers need to recognize and respect their value and begin developing sophisticated digital marketing campaigns that combine offline incentives with online recognition and feedback opportunities.
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blogs.imediaconnection.com/files/2012/09/Brand-advocates-image-11-300x2881.gif
 Brand Advocates: Scaling Social Media Word-of-Mouth: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1009074&ecid=a6506033675d47f881651943c21c5ed4
 CMO Council study: http://www.cmocouncil.org/press-detail.php?id=2819
 According to Zuberance: http://www.slideshare.net/zuberance/zuberance-study-three-surprising-findings-about-brand-advocates
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