Brand advocacy offers businesses the chance to benefit from a strong relationship with loyal customers. By building relationships on mutual trust, genuinely authentic connections can be developed. 

However, for advocacy to be effective brands must recruit advocates who truly share their values. Authentic relationships cannot be struck up on demand, but must be nurtured over time to generate trust. Therefore brands must allocate time, energy and resources to find the right advocates.

Businesses must prioritise those who will generate the most growth as advocates. By identifying customers with the necessary qualities, both the customers and the brand will get the most from advocacy. Companies can follow these five steps to target and unlock the best brand advocates:

1) Target those who love helping others

At its heart, brand advocacy is a form of influencer marketing. Advocates carry a brand’s message and spread it through word of mouth to other potential customers. However, unlike traditional influencer marketing, advocates have a greater level of authenticity than influencers who are paid to promote a message.

This means that the best advocates must love reaching out to help other people. For example, users of online forums such as Mumsnet make ideal advocates because they have a natural urge to help others solve problems. Potential customers are more likely to trust advocates who they know go above and beyond for others. Therefore, these advocates will be most successful in finding new customers for the brand.

2) Recruit customers who share company values

In order to achieve the trust of potential customers, advocates need to come across as authentic. However authenticity cannot be faked. Therefore, businesses must recruit advocates who live by their values.

It is far easier to trust advocates who actually believe in what they are promoting. What sets brand advocates apart from influencers is their passion for the companies they represent. A perfect example of this is Iceland, whose values of hard work, selflessness and sacrifice are embodied by the ‘mummy vloggers’ who advocate on its behalf.

3) Be present in the right places

American politicians often use the phrase ‘hunt where the ducks are’. To maximise brands’ reach, they must maintain a presence on the platforms which are most popular with potential advocates. For example, National Express uses marketing effectively to maximise its reach, focusing campaigns on social media. This allows it to reach students who want to travel on a budget, whereas it would struggle to reach these people through advertising in newspapers.

4) Empower the best people

Once the right advocates have been recruited, they must be treated as collaborators rather than customers. Advocates must be given responsibilities within the company, and can even become co-creators. This develops a greater sense of belonging between customers and the brand, generating sustainable growth. For example, GoPro uses its advocates’ user-generated content to reach out to more customers.

5) Reward successful advocates

To maintain trust and authenticity, advocates must also benefit from the relationship. Their great work in spreading positive word of mouth should earn them rewards such as status, money or merch. Domino’s pizza rewards advocates effectively by providing customers with a QR code which, after they share it with ten friends, becomes a voucher for a free pizza. This ensures that growth is sustainable because advocates are incentivised to keep spreading the word to new customers.

These steps will ensure that businesses get the most from brand advocacy by recruiting and empowering the right customers. Advocacy based on trust and authenticity unlocks sustainable growth which benefits both businesses and the customers.

At Hyve we can help you quickly understand where you currently are and help you get to where you need to be in order to create a brand advocacy programme that can help you increase revenue and enhance reputation.

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Mark Docherty

Author Mark Docherty

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