Posted: Tue 25th Apr 2017
If you've got customers or employees who love your small busines, how can you help them speak about you more? Harpreet Panesar, business manager at Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), shares some top tips on working with advocates
Advocate marketing is a relatively new discipline that has come to fruition as social media has matured. While word-of-mouth marketing has always been powerful, social media has increased the ability for businesses to spread the word as never before.
By interacting more with customers and employees who already speak positively about your brand on social media, businesses are able to increase brand awareness, retain more customers and achieve a higher customer acquisition rate.
Traditionally, this kind of activity has been done manually which is hugely time-consuming for businesses, but new and more structured advocate programmes are now helping SMEs plug into social media more efficiently.
Getting into advocate marketing can be hugely rewarding for SMEs but you need to know how to find the right advocates (or brand fans) and recruit them, plus manage them at scale. Here are some key steps to recruit advocates and work with them on social media.
1. Set objectives so you know who you are targeting
Before getting into advocacy marketing, be clear on your goals. It's important to know what you want to achieve and that any advocate marketing is aligned with your overall business goals or KPIs. You will need to find advocates that will help your business deliver on these goals and drive ROI.
2. Monitor social media for potential advocates
You are looking for people who don't just like your brand but love it and are already talking about it to friends and family. Finding the kind of people who will share content about you regularly means looking for the people, whether it's customers or employees, who already speak about you naturally on social media. You can use social listening tools to set up tracking of your brand name and discover who is talking about you positively the most.
3. Dig into your CRM
You may already have data within your business that you can use as a starting point to reach out to advocates. You can also segment your CRM data, so you can categorise people by their purchasing behaviour, for example. It could be that you target loyalty card members or certain UK regions or predominantly online shoppers.
4. Use user generated content (UGC)
Customers and employees tend to like it when they are recognised by a brand or business they feel passionate about, so create a strategy around using user-generated content. If you run a UGC competition you can also use data capture to re-target potential advocates and invite them to an advocacy programme. In other words, you can turn your existing fans into super fans.
5. Give advocates something to share
We all live busy lives but like to share great content, so give your advocates something that's relevant, inspiring and interesting to share. Advocates can connect their social accounts (Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin) on joining an advocacy programme and are then able to access and share fresh content every day. As advocates are sharing content to their friends, family and peers, it is an incredibly strong way for businesses to increase brand awareness.
For 2017, is advocate marketing the missing piece of your marketing and sales strategy?