Do you have customers who really love your product or services? Do they blog about the latest product launch at the Dubai Mall? Well if you do, congratulations… you have yourself a bone fide brand advocate.
If you’ve not heard about brand advocates before, they are the customers who love your brand so much they tell other people about it. In the past this was someone who told their neighbour and their friends and family how great your brand was. In the age of the internet, they are more likely to be spreading the love through blogs, YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
You may not think that your line of business lends itself to the notion of a brand advocate. And although an accountancy firm will not get many pins on Pinterest, they may get some excellent feedback on the LinkedIn forums.
You may not even be aware you have someone out there telling everyone how great you are. Which is why it’s important for you have someone in your office (or outsource if it’s easier) who can watch your social media profile and identify the brand advocates out there.
Once you’ve found some people who are saying nice things about you, don’t go diving in and asking them around for dinner. Stop and consider who they are, what they are saying, and whom they are saying it to. It may not be necessary to contact them immediately, but it would be nice if they’ve mentioned you on Twitter to thank them for the mention.
If you don’t find any, don’t worry. There are ways of building an environment that help people who love your company’s products or services become brand advocates. And the best thing about having an advocate is it can become a genuinely nice relationship. It can be rewarding for both your company and the advocate themselves.
One fledgling UK make-up manufacturer created a great reward system to build advocates online. They asked their Twitter followers and Facebook fans to post pictures and videos of themselves using the make-up, and then retweeted or shared the picture on Twitter and Facebook. This type of reciprocation is valuable in social media, giving people the opportunity to interact with like-minded people.
At the launch of their products in stores, they promoted it through social media and offered a free sample bag to a certain number of people who were the first to arrive. People then tweeted about receiving the bag and posted pictures online.
You can’t always contain your brand advocates, and you need to be aware of the distinction between an advocate and someone who is trying to make money off the back of your brand. There are many examples of fans trying to sell products that are a little too close to the brand for comfort. A famous example of this was when a Harry Potter fan tried to publish the Harry Potter lexicon. It was the subject of a lawsuit, but did eventually get published, but in a shorter form than the original.
Every business is different, and you should consider carefully how best to build up a brand following. What works for a make-up manufacturer, may not work so well for the accountancy firm. But the main consideration is how you want your brand to be perceived, and promoted, and how to turn a person who simply loves your product into a brand advocate for that product.