Promoting your own brand is great, but why do it yourself when you can get others to vouch for you? Studies have shown that 92% of people trust brand advocates more than brand influencers, so putting together a brand advocacy program is well worth your time.
Follow this guide to find out how and why you should create one for your business.
What exactly is a brand advocacy program?
A brand advocacy program is a strategy which builds a network of your company’s closest customers and rewards them for engaging with your brand.
Many companies focus their energy on chasing endless sales leads without realising that their biggest resource is their own customer base. By developing your relationships with them, you can get your existing customers to present your brand to their own communities – in a positive light. Hearing directly from someone they trust, prospects will be far more likely to convert and buy your brand’s products. In short, a good review from someone you know is more powerful than any advertising campaign.
Why should I create a brand advocacy program?
As we just discussed, while your competitors are relying on traditional marketing and advertising approaches, utilising a brand advocacy program will give you the upper hand.
In a digital world, online recommendations are the most powerful tool you have at your disposal. A recent Google study found that 60% of business tech customers base their purchase decisions on the reviews others have posted online.
In addition, launching a brand advocacy program can have benefits that you’ll see company-wide, from increased brand sentiment to boosted sales numbers. Sound good? Here’s how you can get started.
How do I build a brand advocacy program?
1. Plan your goals thoroughly
When creating a brand advocacy program, you should look ahead at where you want to be and set your goals carefully. The key to success is utilising the customers you already have, so think about where your brand operates – this is where your fans are likely to be. If you focus heavily on social media, for example, you’re likely to already have a developed community there.
Before you launch your program, you’ll need to think about the following:
- What sort of customers you want to build your brand with
- What your ROI goals are
- What you can offer to attract potential advocates
By setting yourself goals, you’ll have a plan of what you’re working towards for when you start to onboard brand advocates.
2. Get your brand advocates on board
After setting your goals, you’ll be looking at how you can acquire your first brand advocates. With this, there are three key points to keep in mind:
- Your program must integrate seamlessly with your current advertising structure
- Communication with your brand advocates is key
- How the program works needs to be clear
By defining these three things, you’ll be able to push your program forward and even start to identify your ideal advocates. Think about who these people are – what issues do they face often? Where do they spend their time on social media? What rewards would they consider valuable? Answering these questions will help you to define your target demographic.
Social media is one of the best channels to pursue when engaging with customers. When trying to gain advocates, you can make the most of it with the following:
- Follow users back and interact with the content they post
- Reward community members who actively engage with your brand
- Send active community members freebies or product discounts
- Reward positive contributions to online discussions by tagging users in shout-outs
Although these tips are key to attracting advocates online, don’t forget – your own employees could make great advocates too.
3. Make the most of your workforce
Offering them all pay rises would probably work, it isn’t likely to prove cost-effective for you. For that reason, you’re best off considering these ideas:
- Create a prize pool for employees who share company content
- Give employees who share regularly shout-outs in meetings
- Offer employees follow-backs from senior management accounts to grow their network
Although incentives are a fantastic way of driving a brand advocacy program, you’re not going to see many results if things aren’t simple to follow. By keeping the process easy, you’ll make sure that advocates stay interested.
4. Maintain your advocate’s interest
Remember – no-one is going to want to stay part of something that’s boring. To maintain your brand advocate community, keep your strategies exciting. Run online competitions and giveaways and keep the process fun for your community. By showing them that they’re appreciated, you’ll help to keep your advocates loyal to your brand.
Another idea you can try out is offering your advocates educational value. Give them discounts to online educational courses or open up webinars to them. After all, if they’re helping you to boost your ROI, you should give them something in return.
Regardless of whether your harness the voice of your employees, or your loyal customers, a brand advocate program is one of the best way you can develop your brand’s online reputation. Try one out for your business and see how you can benefit from rewarding your audience.
At iProperty, we provide leading online property management and real estate software, responsive websites, and more.