How can brands cut out through the noise and be genuine at lower cost with their messaging? It's a question that is troubling marketeers in the current scenario where most customers are being pushed through various touch-points. Brand advocacy is the answer. A brand advocate is simply a highly satisfied customer who is willing to speak officially for the brand without any compensation in return.
Spriklr - a company that builds social media management systems for enterprises released some interesting data. To quote them "Our data platform, which tracks the social activity of 30,000 brands and 248,000 advocates, shows that while advocates make up only .001% of a brand’s social subscribers, they’re responsible for 5.3% of a brand’s total signal and for starting 8.3% of all company related discussions." While those numbers may look smaller as compared to other paid media initiatives, one must note that all of this is mostly organic. Moreover the impact that brand advocates make is that of a positive recommendation which is likely to persuade the end customer to make that buying decision. More often than not, satisfied customers may already be talking about their experience on social media already hence it only helps the brand to propel the messaging further. Another study by BzzAgent & the University of Rhode Island showed that brand advocates are 75% likely to share a positive experience and nearly 3X times likely to share it with someone they don't know.
'Oh, but we are a brand stuck in a boring category' quip some marketeers. Research however proves that brand advocacy can happen anywhere. Ogilvy had mentioned in one of their studies that they looked across 22 brands and the categories with most active advocates were from 2 hotels, 2 skin care brands and one fashion retailer. So customers are not just talking about the new movie / restaurant / music album. Here is a breakdown of what truly drove advocates across the most active countries for brand advocacy:
There are several examples that can showcase the impact of brand advocacy. Three examples that i really liked are the mommy bloggers from Walmart, Westjet's Christmas Miracle and the Red Bull Stratos experiment that had real high engagement levels.
Given that customers these days increasingly want to listen to true stories, marketeers would need to identify and reach out to their most satisfied customers and turn them to brand advocates. While this is a long term strategy, it for sure is bound to pay off for your brand rather than just dispersing marketing messages through different channels in the hopes of reaching the target customer.