Advocacy is one of the most valuable results of social media marketing. It can’t be delivered or nurtured by mass media. Those channels do other things and play a different role in the marketing mix, but social media allows marketers to identify, motivate and aggregate advocates then mobilize them for business objectives.
Brands have advocates at varying levels as it takes a variety of forms from following a brand on Twitter to leaving a review to actively recommending a product or service to friends. And advocacy is a growing behavior, according to eMarketer. For many, it’s something they’ve never really done before.
Advocates Take Many Forms
There’s a fine line between reach and influence. Many marketers approach influencer marketing by evaluating the number of people reached by a person. In reality, influence should be evaluated on the ability of an individual to affect the behavior of someone else, and that person may not have a massive blog or YouTube channel with thousands of subscribers. That person could be as average as average can be. That may mean going after many advocates with quality connections versus fewer with high reach.
Brands need to start mobilizing advocates by first identifying who they are, what they’re saying and what their motivations are. Marketers need to understand what fires up their audience to talk and share.
Then it’s about providing the reasons and the means to share, and this can best be done by opening the doors to creating a relationship with consumers and opening up the lines of communication with the brand. Brands can then think about what motivates its advocates and accelerate advocacy behavior by rewarding it with exclusive access, information and incentives. Reward the behavior you want by giving them something they want.
Don’t forget that they love your brand, so use their love to inform what you do. Brands have successfully created communities to connect advocates with each other and to create an emotional connection with the brand and unlock insights that wouldn’t otherwise reveal themselves. This can be done with forums as well as online/offline events.
The approach is fairly straightforward: identify, incentivize and aggregate. The execution is a bit more difficult, but it comes down to understanding who your brand’s advocates are and what motivates them.