Ones that create content on your behalf and forge new links to customers all because they feel adoration for your brand. Whether it’s a case of budgeting for the infrastructure required to manage this or fine tuning an existing platform, its money well spent and shouldn’t uproot the balance sheet.
First things first, you need to locate your advocates. To do this you must ask the right questions in the most effective way. Using social media is the most efficient means to achieve this. Utilising Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blog touch points, online trade communities and fan sites are very simple and many of their infrastructure points are already in place. Don’t forget that many people are accessing information via mobile platforms, so adapt it for that resource. A leading question might be “Would you recommend us to your group of friends or contacts?” The ones that take the time to answer yes are probably a great start. You can use a grading system and remember true advocates typically don’t respond because of incentives so don’t try and buy them.
The next step is to provide them with an avenue to express their fondness of your brand through content that can be effectively repurposed. This is where you need online tools to share their expressions of attraction. Do your web sites support the following:
Images, videos and portals (visible on site and searchable)
Ratings and reviews (Still very popular amongst shoppers)
A guided experience portal for stories and suggestions (make it easy to enter, review and edit)
Tweets, Facebook likes, posts, blogs (extremely important)
Support portal and frequently asked questions (People like to feel you truly care)
Suggestions and product enhancements (let your customers influence development)
Mobile links for SMS engagements (keep the conversation readily accessible)
Thank you automated responses (don’t forget to follow up)
Once you start generating the content this is the point where you need to be sharing and rewarding your advocates by profiling them. Generally people like to be acknowledged so use this to your advantage. The more information you gather the better. Include them in conversations and allow them to provide feedback and advice to your company. They might not come up with your latest million seller but who best to talk about product experience and enhancements then true advocates. They simply have nothing to lose as opposed the lab coats who are under pressure to perform? Remember that this is much more powerful than giving someone a negligible discount that is forgotten quicker than their last meal.
Make your advocate truly special. Provide them special events or educational options. Let them be the first to see the new release or be the most knowledgeable upfront. How many people would jump at the option to be ahead of the technology curve with Apple or Nike products? Once you’re ready to do a big take to market release, open the door to your advocates encouraging them to share their content first. Include them in your events and make heroes of them. People will listen to like-minded people more acutely then your suits. If you believe in your product then there’s no point in trying to control or curtail their viewpoints, others will smell a rat.
There are other touch points and technologies resources you can utilise to spread your advocates message, but the main focus should be on locating them and harvesting their erudition. Remember that they must be authentic and willing to share. If you need to incentivise or stalk them then you’re going about it incorrectly and should probably be more concerned about your offering. Give them the motivation and means to share and you’ve just hired your most effective sales force.
Do you already have Brand Advocates, how have you captured, incentivised and shared their experiences with others.