Guest blog post by: Elaine Bennett

brand advocates

In today’s digital market, fans come and go, but brand advocates are there to stay. Just look at brands like Apple and Star Trek. They have some of the most die-hard fans the world has ever seen. Some might even say that their loyalty transcends that of conventional ‘fandoms’ as they lean closer towards a cult-like following. Whenever a new branded product is announced, they’re the ones generating all the hype and commotion surrounding the upcoming release. Likewise, they won’t stop until they’ve shared their love for the brand with family, friends, and even strangers. As a result, these brand advocates act as a form of brand lieutenants that do all the hard marketing for you. So, how exactly do you turn your loyal fan base into brand advocates? Well, stick around if you want to find out.

Encourage User-Generated Content

One of the best ways to spark interest in your brand is through user-generated content. Why? Because, people are more likely to listen to one of their peers, over what you have to say about your brand. As such, user-generated content creates more engagement than your regular branded content, and engagement equals success on social media platforms. Though, how does one encourage such content? Simple, just take a look at what Starbucks does every holiday season with their Red Cup campaign. They encourage their consumers to post shots of their coffees for a chance to win a prize, and boy is it effective. People post pictures in the tens of thousands which in turn creates an avalanche effect as their friends and family quickly follow suit. Though small to medium-sized businesses cannot hope for such involvement, there’s still the chance that an ingenious UGC campaign goes viral over social media, thus making your brand famous overnight.

Utilize the Power of Branded Giveaways

Running a voucher or gift card giveaway campaign is not only a fantastic way to boost your social media following on both Facebook and Twitter, but it’s also a neat way to turn your loyal customers into brand advocates. According to First Data’s 2017 Prepaid Consumer Insights Study, 44% of people surveyed stated that getting a store-branded MasterCard gift card has in fact encouraged them to visit stores they normally wouldn’t have visited, whereas 53% stated that gift cards incentivized them to come back more often. Millennials in particular are exceptionally fond of them, judging by the fact that in the year 2017 alone they redeemed almost three times more gift cards than any other age group. Now, the most optimal time for running such a campaign would of course be during the holiday season. Think about it: what better time to tell aunt May about that gift you received than during a long, arduous, family dinner. Joke aside though, the fact of the matter is that people enjoy telling others about all the free things they’ve received, especially during the holidays. Hence, you get people talking about your brand, effectively turning them into your own brand marketers as a result.

Deliver a Unique Customer Experience

Today brand loyalty is all about delivering a more personalized customer experience. This is why customer service can make or break a business. If your website is too slow or hard to navigate, if your personnel are being rude towards customers, then it’s more likely they’ll jump ship and get on board with your close competitors. Instead, you want to give them a uniquely positive experience worth talking about with others. This way you not only increase your customer retention levels but you also gain their trust. So, go the extra mile and do whatever you can to solve their individual problems. Offer refunds, take custom orders, and put a smile on their face. As an example, the customer experience expert and author John DiJulius had one such experience during his stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Namely, he left early to take his flight and forgot his laptop charger back in his room. The next morning, he got a surprise from the hotel in the form of an air-package stating that they’ve returned his charge and even sent an extra one, just in case.

Implement a Referral Program

Word-of-mouth marketing has always been the go-to marketing strategy for both offline and online marketers. The reason being, same as with UGC, people are more open to peer-reviews made by the people they know, than to branded messages conducted by the companies themselves. While, in essence, you want word-of-mouth referrals to appear naturally, due to quality products and services, it’s never a bad idea to implement an official referral program for your loyal customers. For example, in 2010 the online file storage magnate Dropbox launched a referral program which offered 500 MB of free storage space to people who referred Dropbox to new users. To no surprise, the company’s membership count increased by 60% during the campaign.

To sum up, successful marketing campaigns will do more than just increase your base follower amount. They’ll create brand advocates who will be voices and faces of your brand wherever they go. Thus, learn how to get them on your side, and you’ll master the art of marketing itself.

More about the author:

Elaine Bennett is a blogger, currently writing for Bizzmark Blog. She’s a digital marketing specialist, passionate about helping small businesses grow. Follow her on Twitter to find more of her articles.

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