What makes a brand advocate?
Anyone of us has the potential to become a brand advocate, but not everyone does. So what marks a brand advocate apart from an ordinary customer? Simply put, a customer likes your brand whereas a brand advocate loves your brand and will be loyal to your brand over others, says digital consultant Sofie Sandell. Caroline Higgins, head of retail insights at communications agency Hotwire, adds that brand advocates have three qualities in particular that make them special. “They have a truly emotional connection with your brand; they have a big network and they care enough to share with their friends and followers.” In a world where ad men are permanently trying to sell a dream or ideal, advocates bridge the real world and the world of the brand and can bring much needed realism to marketing communications. “Advocates are normal people who don’t go to meetings, watch focus groups or sit in brainstorms,” says Martin Smith, chief strategy officer at Cake. “They’re real people with the unpredictable quirkiness and, with it, the believability that normal people can bring to a brand.” For the majority of consumers, a purchase ends when they click ‘pay’ at the checkout. But at this point the brand advocate’s journey is only just beginning and it’s what they do after the immediate point of purchase that makes them interesting to a brand. In the best case scenario a brand advocate acts in a way that verges on evangelical, recommending the brand to their friends and peers and telling their entire social network about their positive experience. On the flip side, a bad experience can quickly turn an advocate into a detractor, meaning their influence over their peers can be both positive and negative.
Incentivise brand advocates through exclusive perks and offers: “If you have the email addresses or contact details of your best brand advocates, one way to engage them in a campaign is through providing sneak peek information about a new product, model, series or whatever the brand is doing or inviting advocates to a launch event” Sofie Sandell, social media consultant