Harnessing Brand Advocates In 3 Steps

Whether it’s a concert, a festival or a new theatrical release, it’s tied to a brand, and brands need brand advocates in today’s social world. Ninety-two percent of people trust brand advocates, according to this Nielsen report. Fostering and leveraging a community of brand advocates is one of the most powerful actions an entertainment company can take.

Brand advocates aren't necessarily celebrities or online personalities; they're an average customer or audience member who chooses to interact with the brand in some way -- posting a review on Yelp, checking in on FourSquare, or snapping a photo and sharing it on Instagram.

A quick Instagram search brings up more than half a million for the #SFGiants, and more than 200,000 for #Coachella - this isn't even counting secondary hashtags like #Coachella2013. Most of this media-rich evergreen content comes from brand influencers and often isn't being fully leveraged by many companies.



Creating a culture of brand advocacy around a company can seem overwhelming at first, but these three steps will help you build your community.

1. Promote and own long-term hashtags

These aren't just hashtags that are used for one campaign and then forgotten. These hashtags are promoted on a rolling basis. For example, Sephora promotes multiple hashtags like #nailspotting and #beautyinsider to generate a constant stream of content from their customers.

The content not only promotes the Sephora brand among the brand advocates' followers but also builds hype for the beauty products they sell.

2. Promote the content

The average Twitter user has 126 followers, and the average Facebook user has 245 friends. That means even a small-scale brand advocate campaign has the potential to reach tens of thousands of people. And that's just with people sharing their own content.

Mainstream advertising like television ads has the ability to reach a mass amount of people at once, but it lacks the trust that surround brand advocates. Oreo's Super Bowl advertisement was the perfect marriage of these two, and because of that their #CookieThis/#CremeThis social campaign has been a massive success.

3. Show appreciation

Remember that no person ever wants to feel used. Be authentic with your advocates, and make sure your interaction is beneficial for both of you. One rule of thumb: treat brand advocates as your would treat your friends. Listen to, spend time with, and empower them. Encourage feedback and opinions from your advocates, and show that you're listening.

ModCloth's Be the Buyer program is a successful example. The online fashion retailer gives their community the ability to vote on which items are sold at Giving their customers a voice in the fashion-buying process makes them feel invested in the future of the company and promotes long-term loyalty and engagement.

Harnessing the power of brand advocacy is critical to a brand's development. With the emergence of social media the need has never been higher, but it's also never been easier, to connect with advocates.

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