Brand advocacy is an extremely powerful marketing tool that can help build brand awareness, drive new leads, close new customers, and attract and hire new job candidates.
What is Brand Advocacy?
Brand advocacy is a term used to describe actions taken by people who love your brand and continuously support your organization by promoting products and services to new customers and prospects.
Having brand advocacy programs not only helps your company become visible to larger audiences, but also builds stronger brand awareness, and increases revenue while eliminating costs associated with other traditional marketing campaigns.
Therefore, having brand advocates within your organizations can bring significant value to your business making it a win-win for everyone involved!
Who Can Be a Brand Advocate?
Brand advocates are people who help promote your company and its growth through their actions. There are 4 main groups of brand advocates, which are outlined below:
Employees: Employees are often the best brand advocates because they have first-hand knowledge of your existing products and services. Additionally, employees of large organizations can reach a much wider audience by participating in advocacy programs.
Business partners: Strong partnerships and affiliate programs can help connect organizations with new customers.
Influencers: Many organizations hire influencers to help them drive more visibility and sales. Influencers are famous people with a lot of followers on different online platforms, such as social media.
Customers: Having customers as brand advocates can be a beneficial and influential marketing tactic. As many prospects rely on existing customers’ reviews and word-of-mouth, customer advocacy is a powerful way to attract and close new clients.
While it would be amazing to have all of these groups as brand advocates, it’s often very hard to achieve. Influencers can be pricey, and customers may be difficult to engage to participate in brand advocacy programs.
On the other hand, employees are typically considered the best brand advocates when it comes to both employer and corporate branding. By launching a straightforward employee advocacy program in your organization, you can go a long way in driving better business results.
Brand Advocacy Challenges
Although it’s widely known that there are many advantages to having a brand advocacy program, many organizations still struggle to put one into action. The infographic below outlines some of the most common hurdles companies face when attempting to establish a brand advocacy program, such as difficulty motivating employees to participate, lack of employee or leadership buy-in, inadequate technology, and difficulty measuring the success of the program.
How to Build a Successful Brand Advocacy Program
A study done by LinkedIn showed that employees of a company tend to have 10 times more followers than the company itself. Additionally, while only about 2% of employees regularly share their company’s social posts, they are responsible for 20% of the overall engagement.
Because of findings like this, many organizations and marketers are now looking for ways to encourage their employees and other stakeholders such as partners, contractors, and consultants to participate in their brand advocacy programs. However, organizations need to have well-set brand advocacy strategies in place to get the most out of their stakeholders’ engagement.
1. Explain the benefits of brand advocacy to build trust and create a sense of purpose
One of the most important things for successful brand advocacy programs is getting employees and other stakeholders to buy in through proper internal communications.
As marketers, who are often responsible for managing advocacy initiatives, it’s our job to explain the benefits of brand advocacy in strengthening employees’ brands and helping their companies as a whole. Doing this will help create trust and a sense of purpose.
2. Defining policies and training your advocates
It’s important to have advocacy training and guidelines in place so that everyone is aware of the policies, the ‘do’s and don’ts, and the goals of your brand advocacy programs. Having short training sessions and internal marketing campaigns will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them.
3. Define goals, objectives, and policies
Every advocacy initiative should have clear goals and objectives to keep everyone aligned. These goals vary based on the department launching the program. Whether it’s sales, marketing, or HR, all stakeholders should understand the ultimate advocacy KPIs. Some examples of these could be:
– Increasing company LinkedIn followers by X%
– Increasing website traffic by X%
– Boosting engagement on social media by X%
– Increasing the number of MQLs or SQLs by X%
– Increasing the number of qualified job applicants by X%
– Increasing the number of Glassdoor reviews by X%
4. Creating engaging internal content
Engaging content is key to driving employee engagement in your brand advocacy programs. departments should have diverse content strategies that appeal to employees and test various content formats including photos, infographics, videos, webinars, podcasts, and other formats that employees will want to share.
By curating engaging, fun, and relevant content, you can increase employee engagement in your advocacy programs and get more employees involved in promoting your brand.
5. Make sure your content reaches the right audiences
You can’t just create content and hope that all of your advocates will see it and share it. You need to be aware of their networks and create content specifically for them. That way, you can make sure that the right people see your content and that it gets amplified externally.
Employees from different departments, in different job roles, contractors, or external partners should have access to content relevant to them. Segmenting your internal audiences is crucial for driving their continuous engagement. It also allows your advocacy program to scale to the enterprise level.
6. Make it easy to find and share content
One of the most important aspects of any successful brand advocacy program is making it easy for employees and other partners to share internal content with their external networks.
In today’s digital workplace, employees expect exceptional experiences with the technology they use within their organizations. The easier you make it for them to share content on social networks, relevant groups, and forums, the more engaged they will be. They should be able to share your content in a matter of seconds.
7. Spotting and rewarding your best advocates
It is a great way to motivate them to participate in your brand advocacy program. If you want to make advocacy one of your core values, you should find ways to recognize and reward advocates for their desired behaviors and actions.
However, many companies don’t have ways to spot their biggest advocates or measure the impact of their engagement. Without this data, it can be difficult to create structured and effective advocacy recognition programs.
8. Constantly optimize your brand advocacy efforts by measuring what works well and what could use some improvement.
If you can’t quickly identify your most effective advocates, understand which content resonates best with your target audiences, and which social networks they are most active on, it will be difficult to make positive changes and see the highest possible return on investment.
The Benefits of Brand Advocacy
Brand advocacy can have a plethora of benefits for the different departments in your organization. Your employees’ word of mouth can create better brand awareness, generate new sales leads, attract new job candidates and also strengthen employees’ brands – just to name a few! Therefore, it’s important to encourage and empower your team to get involved in promoting your company and its goods or services. Brand advocacy can be a great way to organically build hype and interest around what you’re offering without having to shell out a lot of money on marketing campaigns.