Clients and customers pay your bills, whereas brand advocates do much more than paying your bills. They talk about you, recommend you to their friends and family, forgive you when you make a mistake, are loyal, engaged and enthusiastic and help you build your business.
In today’s world, it’s advocates, not advertisers, who have the power. There is nothing more powerful than a trusted recommendation from a brand advocate.
Why is that?
It is all about TRUST.
People trust other people, whereas people do not always trust businesses. Nine of 10 online consumers say recommendations from friends and family members are the most trusted form of advertising worldwide. Only about 2 out of 10 trust online ads. The power and reach of brand advocates has massively increased over the last 5-10 years, because of social media.
Social Media Amplify Advocates
Advocates’ reach was once limited to their immediate circle of friends and family. Now, empowered by social media, advocates collectively reach millions of buyers with trusted recommendations. Each time a consumer posts something on a social web it reaches a minimum of 150 people.
We all use the influence of brand advocates on a small and bigger scale.
Who hasn’t asked their friends for recommendations for a good builder, plumber, baby sitter, restaurant, holiday destination, hairdresser, etc. etc.? Who hasn’t visited sites like Trip Advisor to check out what other travellers are saying about a particular hotel or holiday destination before making a booking?
If you look at a social media site like Facebook the stats are mind blowing. There are almost 11 million users in Australia, which is 52% penetration of the population. The average time people spend on Facebook is 21 minutes and 40 seconds, which is a whole lot longer than what people normally spend on websites. Twitter on the other hand has 1.8 million users in Australia with an average time on the site of 9 minutes and 40 seconds. This is still not bad for a site that focuses on short and sharp messages.
What does it take for a business to create brand advocates?
First of all you need to have an insanely great product or service that you are proud of. Secondly, you should be excited about starting a dialogue with your target market. This is a massive switch from traditional marketing where businesses are completely in control of the messages that go out to the market place. However, creating a dialogue with your target market is much more engaging. You also shouldn’t be worried about getting negative comments. There will always be some people that don’t like your product or service, as you are not able to please everyone. It is more important how you react to these comments and turn them around in your favour. This dialogue with your target market gives you a greater insight into what your customers’ needs are, which is valuable information for you to then refine your product/services offering and your marketing.
I truly believe in this concept of brand advocates and believe that every business should have a brand advocate strategy as part of their marketing plan.