According to Rob Fuggetta, brand advocates are worth at least 5 times more than an average customer - this is why brand advocates are worth their weight in gold. But how do you find your brand advocates?
Step 1: Differentiate Between Brand Advocates and Brand Loyalists
Not everyone who is loyal to your brand is an advocate of your brand. Similarly, you can have brand advocates who are not loyal to your brand. Someone loyal to your brand is committed to using your product or service and most likely, happy with doing so. But it could also be that they are loyal to your brand because they don’t really see good options - and once a competing brand gains floor on the market and amongst their social circles, they have no attachments to stay on board with your brand. These people are only loyal to your brand in the light of current circumstances, and make no promises for tomorrow. This means they are likely to not be your brand advocates either - while they are ok with your brand right now, they aren’t thrilled enough to actually recommend your product.
The difference between a brand loyalist and a brand advocate, then, is in their actions. A brand advocate is someone who actively talks about you (in a positive way!) and most importantly, recommends you to other people who might benefit from what you have to share. A brand advocate goes beyond being loyal: they are personally attached to your product, your story or what your brand represents.
Step 2: Understand the Motivations of Your Brand Advocates
If someone is sharing your content or talking about your brand positively, there may be several reasons for this. People who seem like advocates of your brand could actually be advocating not (only) your brand, but what it represents. They may be using brand advocacy as a way to define themselves and build relationships with others, for example. Once you find out the reasons for people being your brand advocates, you are more likely to find these advocates online.
You need to really keep in mind what it is you are offering to your customers, specifically from the point of view of your brand, not your product. What is it you want them to share? The key is to find your most passionate consumers and provide them the most valuable experience and the most valuable content.
Step 3: Don’t Get Lost in Vanity Metrics - Use a Social Listening Tool Instead
Marketers are inclined to see a link between an increased social media following, brand success and ultimately, increased revenue. But, as Harvard Business Review notes, viewing this causal link as self-evident could be about confusing cause and consequence. A person who likes a brand may not subsequently become a customer. Rather, they could start following the brand after a positive customer experience. This means tracking the number of followers and likes is not actually an accurate measure of your increased brand awareness and therefore these metrics aren’t providing you the correct data on your future potential brand advocates.
When trying to identify potential brand advocates, it is easy to get lost in vanity metrics - monitoring likes and shares and the light “surface engagement” your brand content receives. But the way to find your brand advocates isn’t seeing who likes and what. It is instead about going deeper and finding the people who actively engage with your brand. Look for the people who actively root for your brand and recommend your products, both to friends in their own social circles as well as to strangers in discussions. This means people who give you feedback, engage in discussions surrounding your brand and independently talk about your brand both offline and online. These are the people who are able to bring the most value to you.
Finding your brand advocates is about focusing on different metrics than the ones you normally use for measuring branding success. Advocates aren’t necessarily found midst content and media with the most likes and shares because brand advocacy is about quality, not quantity.
Step 4: Your Best Brand Advocates Are Hovering Near Your Coffee Machine
Employee Advocacy is, amongst many other things, a way to mold your very own employees into your brand ambassadors. They are people with the most to gain by becoming brand advocates, they know your business inside and out and they are the faces of your brand online and offline. When creating ways to identify and increase brand advocacy, always look at your employees first. They have the best insight into who your customers are and how they view your brand. In addition to this, your employees are likely to already share or be willing to share your brand content online. Harnessing your employees as your brand ambassadors empowers them to create a more meaningful work experience for themselves, while becoming influencers in their field.