Digital clutter has become a real problem, rendering traditional media and even digital advertising less effective. If you want to grow your brand's presence and increase trust online, you need to invest in brand advocates.
A brand advocate is an individual who organically promotes your product. They advocate on your behalf because they believe in the quality of your brand, not because they're paid to promote you.
You can (and definitely should) leverage the power of brand advocates to grow your company without coming off as self-promotional. Advocates work for your brand 24/7, bringing you new customers, boosting your credibility and helping you edge out the competition.
Find your advocates
Why sell yourself when your devoted customers will sell for you? Use these smart strategies to create loyal brand advocates to grow your brand.
1. Build a community.
Our world might be digitized, but we still crave human connection. The best way to forge genuine relationships with potential advocates is through creating an online community.
Communities support your audience by giving them an online family. Over time, the emotion behind community-building converts your customers into loyal brand advocates.
Follow these guidelines before creating your community of loyal followers:
- Identify the community you want: Advocate communities don't just appear out of thin air. You have to be intentional about how you set up the community. Decide what will bring your followers together, whether it's a charity, social movement, hobbies or support. Make sure this is in line with your brand and your offerings.
- Do some recon: See what other online communities are doing and how they operate. Join the communities if you can, noting what aspects you want to use in your own community.
- Participate: A community is nothing without a leader. That's why brands have to participate in their communities every single day. Answer questions, start conversations and always reply promptly.
- Take it offline: You can have wonderful conversations online, but to truly build relationships, your community needs a little face time. Host offline events for your community to connect with each other. Host workshops, conferences or hip gatherings to give your members a space to chat.
2. Empower employees.
We focus so much on growing customers into brand advocates, but every business has an even better advocate hiding right under their noses – your employees! Every single employee in your organization should be a brand advocate.
And not because you tell them they should be an advocate. Your customer experience, mission and culture should be one that automatically encourages employees to advocate for your brand. Happy employees mean you have a willing force of individuals ready to sell your brand any time, day or night.
If you want employees to become brand advocates, empower them. When they feel like they have skin in the game, they can grow and find purpose in their work, leading to increased satisfaction and, ultimately, brand advocacy.
3. Connect with influencers.
If you want to reach thousands of people without a huge budget, look no further than influencer marketing. Influencers give you access to their readymade audience. When an influencer advocates for your brand, there's a higher likelihood you'll find more customers and even more excited brand advocates in a short amount of time.
Influencer marketing is more subtle than other forms of marketing, and that's why it works so well. They give their audiences content that both entertains and solves their problems – without the hard sales pitch. Use the influencer's credibility to connect with new audiences in your niche.
4. Maintain existing relationships.
Let's say you've put in some elbow grease and you have a tribe of dedicated brand advocates. Congratulations!
However, this isn’t the end of the road. Relationships are the backbone of advocacy. You have to continually support your advocate relationships to keep the spark alive. Use these tips to keep your brand advocates engaged for a long-term relationship:
- Provide outstanding content: Regularly provide blogs, videos, podcasts and more that give your advocates value. Remember to involve your advocates in the content process, sharing their reviews and stories.
- Acknowledge milestones: Just like any other relationship, it's important to remember significant dates. Check in with brand advocates on their birthday or send them an award for mentioning your brand on social media. A little acknowledgment goes a long way, boosting their emotional connection to your brand.
- Inner circle access: Everybody wants to feel special! Give your advocates the insider access they crave. Use loyalty programs that give advocates early access to deals, contests and freebies. These experiences make them feel valued and appreciated, which encourages even more brand advocacy down the line.
The bottom line
Stop fighting tooth and nail to get more exposure for your brand. Leverage the power of brand advocates through communities, empowering employees, working with influencers and keeping the spark alive with your existing advocates. The result will be a growing group of people who rave about your brand, and that's worth its weight in gold.