Building a Strong Brand Through Authentic Advocacy

By Brooklin Nash

Many brands are now stressing authentic advocacy in their marketing plan.

Authentic advocacy is a fancy term that simply refers to a type of marketing that relies on personal connection rather than traditional paid advertising.

It can be summed up by what Mark Zuckerberg describes,

“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”

We are going to take a brief look at why authentic advocacy is important and explain 4 tips to build trust with your future advocates.

Why Authentic Advocacy Matters

The heart of authentic advocacy is trust. Customers do not give their trust to brands easily. 84% of millennials, the largest group of consumers, do not trust traditional ads.

We are all consumers bombarded with ads on a daily basis. We know that ads are self-serving and designed to bring in money. We learn to tune them out when they do not meet a need we have or seem fake.

We prefer content that is transparent, helpful, and trustworthy. This is why more than 90% of people trust word of mouth recommendations. This equates to $6 trillion in consumer spending each year.

Because your future customers are more likely to learn about and trust your brand from personal recommendations or online reviews, it is imperative that you get your current client base talking. This is where advocates come in.

Advocates: The People Behind Your Reputation

Advocates are loyal customers who love your product or service enough to share it with others. This can start with all-in employees or customers who you have built trust with.

Advocates are happy people. They are happy because your product, customer service, and overall business have brought them joy. They receive so much joy that they want to share it with others.

This joy can come from little or big things your business does:

  • Being real and relating to customers
  • Meeting and going above and beyond expectations
  • Doing good things in this world
  • Humour
  • A human voice, care, and support
  • Awesome packaging and delivery services
  • Amazing functionality
  • Feel good vibes across the whole customer lifecycle

Advocates are 2-3x more likely to persuade a future customer to make a purchase than a sales rep. This is because their circle of personal relationships trusts them and wants to experience what they are raving about too. 

Advocates can spread the word about your product verbally or on social media.

Real people advocating for your business will be especially important as Facebook adopts a new approach called Facebook Zero. Facebook’s new algorithm will be designed to primarily bring up content from friends and real people rather than businesses. With this change, marketers can’t speak too much for themselves. They need the people who love them to do the talking.

It is necessary to build your advocacy efforts through real people. Your first step is to win your advocates’ loyalty and passion with specific strategies. Continue reading for 4 tips to increase your engagement, prove you are the real deal and find more people to talk about you.

Use Social Media to Show Who You Are

Who are the marketers behind the keyboard? What does the office look like? How do you celebrate employees? Social media is an excellent place to reveal this.  Post images of company retreats, have employees share their experiences on social media through microblogging, invite consumers to talk about their interactions with the company on various social media platforms. Salesforce did a great job of this when they showcased their Ohana floor in the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco. This video shows that Salesforce values community, employees, education, and supporting non-profits. It shows customers what this company stands for. This gives employees and customers something to be proud of and more reason to share why they support this company. Showing what your company does and what it values can get people talking and prove that the company cares about those they interact with.

Honesty is the Best Policy

No one is perfect, and businesses are not exempt from this. If a consumer goes on Twitter and discusses an order gone wrong or a customer service issue that went further than it should have, then company leaders should be ready to admit their wrongdoing and offer a solution. Nothing makes a consumer feel better than knowing a company will take responsibility when they are at fault. The same goes for employees who may not have had the best experience at the company.

It is also best to be transparent in your weaknesses as a company. Buyers today know when a marketer is overselling their product. Buyers have access to reviews and limitless information online today. They respect salespeople more when they answer questions honestly and openly about limitations of a product or service. If a customer knows the limits of a product ahead of time, they will not have high expectations that a product can’t live up to. This will ensure that customer expectations are met, which makes a happy customer. Happy customers are much more likely to become advocates.

Appropriately Include Customer Reviews

Potential customers want to know how others respond to a brand they are interested in. Therefore, companies should make a practice of including customer reviews, such as the ones listed on TrustRadius, in brand messaging and on landing pages when possible. A BrightLocal survey revealed 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. This reveals, that there is power in letting customers speak for the brand. Most customers are willing to write a review but need a little push from your company first.

Highlight Causes that are Relevant to the Company

Is the company partnered with a nonprofit organization? Have employees just participated in a company-wide volunteer day? It is important that customers know this information. Businesses show customers that they take corporate social responsibility seriously which can increase brand trust. Consumers are willing to pay 55 per cent more for companies who participate in CSR. People want to feel purposeful and that they are doing good. If a company they are giving money to shares that with local communities or runs their business with environmentally friendly practices, they are much more likely to support this brand faithfully. When people feel good and passionate about who they are partnering with, they will want to share that with others.

Advocates are happy with your company. They trust you and believe in you. They want their friends to know about you. Their peers will believe them and want to experience your product too. Authentic advocacy is one of the most powerful ways to share how awesome you are. And people will believe it.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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