As Thanksgiving approaches and a new year looms large upon the horizon, it’s only natural to take a bit of time to think back on the changes past months have brought, and to show your loved ones the appreciation they’re due. And just as you thank friends and family for their continuing care and support, it’s important to also thank those that speak on behalf of your business – the people who are first to defend your brand against critics, and who stay loyal to you through thick and thin.
I’m talking, of course, about your brand advocates, the users or fans of your product that are often the most vocal in their endorsements. These individuals tend to be more visible than most on social media: according to a recent Geometry Global study, 80% of today’s consumers are digitally engaged, and of those, 25% identify themselves as brand-connected advocates. These are people who actively seek a relationship with the brands they support, and who want to be seen and heard doing so.
And if you’re looking to really galvanize these advocates, it’s crucial to make them feel valued and respected. Here are a few ways to do so:
- Help them to reach people and make themselves known. If they head up a business of their own or are marketers themselves, point them toward opportunities for promotion. Refer them to events or tradeshows relevant to their industry, or connect them with the press (either through your own media contacts, or via a free database like HARO, Help a Reporter Out).You could also give them dedicated shout-outs on your social pages, or weekly spotlights and profiles that highlight their businesses and areas of expertise. Comment on and share what they publish, so that your followers are inspired to do the same. Remember: there’s no publicity quite like free publicity!
- Tailor your offerings to meet their needs and pain points. As Ekaterina Walter points out in her Forbes story, “8 Essentials of Creating a Sustainable Advocacy Program,” on the topic, advocates are likelier to support brands that speak directly to their own interests, and that work actively to challenge and excite them.So if your followers are the type to seek out entertainment, keep them entertained with funny memes, videos, and articles. If they’re the sort looking to educate themselves, provide them with the resources they need to succeed in their respective fields (datasheets, webinars, whitepapers, etc.). Think more carefully about who they are, where they are, and what they do, then tailor your offerings to those observations, and your advocates are sure to return that consideration tenfold.
- Give them a say over the content you publish. Solicit their input (via email, perhaps, or with a survey across your social channels) on changes to your brand’s image, initiatives you plan to push through, and deals/giveaways you make available. Allow them to weigh in on the blog posts you write or solutions you devise, so that they feel heard and useful. After all, as Anita Loomba notes in her story,”Tips for Building Loyal Brand Advocates” for Social Media Today, businesses that don’t listen to their followers are liable to produce “brand critics, not brand advocates.”
- Thank them directly! Never underestimate the effect a simple “thank you” can have, and keep on the lookout for all possible opportunities to engage your advocates directly.
So, as the holidays get underway, be generous in your thanks – as much to those you know as those who know you. The more respect you can show your advocates, the more support they’ll give you.
And for more insights into advocacy, the customer expansion process, and other aspects of sales and marketing, be sure to visit our Center of Excellence.
Photo of Jeff Linton by Emilee Johnson (with Jeff’s camera)