Late last year, I ordered a pair of hiking boots from Zappos. Love them! Raved about them on Twitter.
It was my first purchase at Zappos and despite the great return policy and subsequent visits to the site, I haven’t bought anything else. I’m a ‘fan’ who might shop there again, someday. No one would consider me a brand advocate.
Brand advocates do things like write a blog around your product, or tweet about you daily, and faithfully follow you on Facebook. They recommend you to their friends and family and don’t let any disgruntled shoppers sway them. Brand advocates are loyal to a fault — all without being asked or compensated.
Don’t you want one? Or two or three? Everyone does.
So, how do you create a brand advocate? You don’t!
Let’s be clear about that — an advocate is enthusiastic about your brand because of personal reasons. They love what you do, what you make, and they will often defend you in moments of distress. But, throughout their many ways of supporting you, they are, at heart, individuals with a sense of entitlement that puts them above your average loyal customer.
Your average loyal customer is not in the same league as your brand advocate. The power of a few brand advocates is exponential, compared to the attention from a few loyal customers. Travis Murdock put it in context by pointing out the true value of a brand advocate; “How much is an enthusiastic advocate of your brand worth to you? It turns out that it is 5X their lifetime value to you. For example, if they spend $500 buying dinner at your restaurant over a few years, then you can estimate their value at $2500, according to a recent white paper from Zuberance.”
The Zuberance report reveals more impressive numbers. “Forrester has estimated that each time a consumer posts a comment on the social web it reaches 150 people. Using the Forrester model, the restaurant [in the report] will reach approximately 15 million people in the first year by energizing its advocates. This has a media value of $1,500,000…”
According to Forrester, the process begins with an “initial assessment” and moves on to “Identify internal brand champions throughout the organization.” Step nine of the process advises, “Recognize and reward.” Step ten concludes, “Measure.” While focused on employees, this process works for your external brand advocates, also. You have to find them, understand them, reward them, and measure their engagement.
Where do you find them? You find them online — on Facebook, blogs, and Twitter. You will know the brand advocates by their repeated conversations about you and your products or services. These are the folks that make social media worthwhile.
How do you recognize and reward them? You need to join the conversation. Be open and genuinely interested. Compliments go far. Gifts work but make sure it's relevant. Recently, a brand I’ve been working with contacted me and asked for my snail mail address. “We want to send you something special,” they told me. I was intrigued. In a few weeks, I received my special gift — it was product with my pet’s picture on it. Was I over the moon impressed? You bet! Am I a brand advocate now? You bet!
How do you measure value and involvement? There are a plethora of tools available that answer the questions: How many pageviews does Cathy get on her blog? How many Facebook friends does she have? What about Twitter? Find them and use them. Don’t think the fan or follower numbers are all that’s important, however. Look at the big picture.
The big picture treats brand advocates with care and respect. The big picture works to inspire! At the Brand Ascension blog, Carol Chapman and Suzanne Tulien reveal a study done by consulting company, Inspiration Blvd, LLC, which found, “a new paradigm emerging in business — that consumers are drawn to brands based on their Inspiration Factors.”
The study showed that “…every Most Inspiring Company that made the list [in the study] had the ability to enlist and unleash a cadre of enthusiastic advocates to carry out its organizational mission.” Plus, “ 50% of the brands recognized by consumers as inspiring outperformed the S&P 500 by an average of 45% and as much as 95% year over year.”
Brand advocacy comes down to this: Who loves ya, baby? And, why do they love ya? Find out by careful observation and engagement, then proceed to nurture, reward, engage and don’t forget to inspire.