Having acted as a moderator on a website that was once killing MySpace in a particular niche of the music scene, I learnt one thing quickly from emerging social network platforms:
“Everybody has the potential to become an influencer.”
If you don’t believe me then ask yourself “Why did so many people accept invites to join their friends on Facebook in the early days?” The answer: Their friends influenced them.
I wasn’t familiar with the term ‘brand advocate’ all those many years ago (even though I was one of many), and I now consider it as only a way to distinguish on paper between a highly engaged fan who can influence others, from those people that you pay (or give a gift) to help influence their large audience. You still want the same outcome from either party at the end of the day, which is for them to say nice things about you that their audience trusts enough to take a certain action.
The great thing about brand advocates as I mentioned is you do not have to pay them to promote your brand, which leaves only one thing – how do you find them?
Time to start listening
Far too many companies are still in the phase of pushing their message and not listening. In a recent study it was shown that 97% of 11,732 tweets mentioning a group of brands did not mention them directly using the “@” symbol. The article in question was looking at this element from the negative impact it could have for the brands from not addressing unhappy customers.
What the article did not address is that there is also the lost opportunity of engaging with happy customers. The ones that they could be forming relationships with and turning into brand advocates. If you are thinking “A true brand advocate would already be mentioning with them on Twitter!” I say “They all start somewhere.” That first mention of a brand could be the point where a customer is at their most ecstatic and finding the associated Twitter handle is too time consuming as they just want to share the experience.
Here are a few examples of brands being mentioned in a positive way where Twitter is not showing a reply back from the brands mentioned:
Montezuma’s is a British chocolate company, who I would tweet for if they fed me chocolates straight off their conveyor belt…
Let’s up the stakes a bit. Here is one mentioning BT Vision, a product which is part of BT’s TV service offering. Big brand, no doubt monitoring their channel daily and across multiple accounts…
But again no interaction from BT’s company accounts with a positive comment amongst the sea of customer service comments and replies.
Personalities of a brand advocate
As it was Valentine’s Day recently and I’m writing this whilst the sun is shining (Spring is on its way), I’m going to define brand advocates as two personalities that I often see:
The lustful advocate
Many people will instantly be a brand advocate, and when you first come across them they may seem slightly weird and scary at first. You’ll be questioning their motives, and if they truly love your brand you may mistakenly start thinking about some sort of restraining order. But unlike the scary ex-partner who sent you a Valentine’s Day card for the third year after splitting up, you need to embrace these people!
These people love everything you do no matter what and will defend your brand even when you fail to meet expectations sometimes along the way. They consider you are always working for the greater good and will say things like “You’ll get it right next time.” or “They’ve learnt their lesson, now let’s all move on.” No doubt many well-known brands have one of these people who proudly state “I’ve been with Brand X since year dot!”
The committed advocate
On the flipside some people are only committed to a brand after a period of time of being wooed by the service that you provide. They’re not playing hard to get, they are simply making sure you have what it takes before they commit to any long-term relationship.
They will spend some time using your product/service asking questions and be sure that they are truly in love before declaring it to the world. Being a brand advocate is a big commitment, and if you are not the right brand for them it is their reputation on the line.
In Part 2…
This series is split into two parts as it started pushing towards 2000 words, and we know how easy it is to be distracted by Facebook, telephone calls or the office dog!
In Part 2 I show you how to find and nurture relationships with fans to allow you to find your brand advocates, and the benefits your company receives from doing so.