How to Create Brand Advocates with Social Media Monitoring

In 60’s and 70’s there was a breakout of celebrities like movie or music stars in automobile, fashion or quality drink marketing industries. On TV, radio, newspapers and magazines; celebrities depended on their own choices to become the face of a brand or product. People were trying to imitate celebrities by buying and using the same products associated with them. Today, in the showcase, this phenomenon still continues. But still authenticity is the missing ingredient.

Today, the influencer concept is transformed by internet and social media to a highly complex and interactive form. Nowadays, everybody can be heard, influence others and become an influencer. Consumers are not just consumers. They have a voice and a very strong one.

What is the difference between an influencer and brand advocate?

When it comes to talking about online reputation of a company or brand in social media, influencers and brand advocates are frequently mentioned. They both have the power to influence the perception of a brand on the internet according to their follower and fan reach, but influencers and brand advocates are pretty different from each other and cause misunderstandings.

The basic characteristics of influencers

Influencers have naturally large audiences and also spread the word on different aspects and topics. Briefly, they are popular and productive.

Usually connected to bloggers, celebrities or internet celebrities and experts, the influencers can spread the word very effectively. The message they are sending can quickly reach a potential sphere of other users. That’s why they have really high seeding potentials.

But how do they position themselves toward brands? An influencer is not necessarily a fan of a brand or have a bond with a specific ideology or point of view. Actually, for influencers their own reputation and point of view matters more than the brand or subject. Otherwise, they wouldn’t affirm and retell the things they don’t like or support.

Influencers are very critical. However, this doesn’t mean that they will agree to recommend products or services or invest time to educate other customers and appear as good sources of information. They might be active in many channels depending upon their interest and goals, but it doesn’t mean again that they are going to interact with brands and other consumers on brand pages.

Brand advocate, an enthusiast and a dilettante

A brand advocate, also called brand ambassador, is a convinced fan and loyal customer of the brand. He or she became a brand advocate in time through her/his own experience with the brand and products. Compared to influencers, brand advocates have different motivations; they want to share the reasons for their convincement. The reach and number of receivers of the message are not so important regarding their motivation, because the essential point is to provide and help other users and consumers of the brand, not just self-representation.

How can brand advocates help other than being a good fan?

  • They can change the perceptions of brands, products and services with their genuine tone. With their voice and opinion, they can drive brand awareness efficiently.
  • They can create and educate new customers and serve as volunteer customer support representatives.
  • They recommend and influence their networks to purchase a product or service not just online, but also in offline networks.
  • In cases of crises or as the Germans call “shitstorms”, brand advocates can act as buffers for the brand.
  • They can take a stance against the negative comments and critics, can even deescalate ongoing reputation loss and prevent it.

Seeking and Engaging Brand Advocates More Efficiently

Existing Customers and Sourcing Fans with Social Media Monitoring
Brand advocates are actually out there, the only thing you have to do is to find out who and where they are. Social media monitoring tools are the best instruments to discover these brand advocates and start the dialog and manage the community you want to build up.

Customers as target group
If you want to identify brand advocates, the first thing you have to do is look for consumers that already have high social media activity. Those who have a positive, helpful or educative voice about your brand will have a good influence on followers. If you already have established e-mail lists from your CRM activities, newsletters or partners, utilize them to source your fan base online. Customers that can speak by their experience and knowledge about your brand always have the potential to be brand advocates.

Rating the potential influencers
After seeking brand advocates, next step is to build your brand advocate community. You should be targeting potential influencers with monitoring tools. Key strategy is rating the potential influencers by their reach and their professionalism. In that sense, industry professionals with strong reach are the best potential influencers.

Employees can be effective advocates
Employees as a matter of course can also be effective advocates for your brand because they already have the best knowledge about your business. It is a good start integrating employees to your social media network by extending the brand’s reach.

Influence of bloggers to be your brand advocate
Another place to monitor is blogs. Bloggers are usually extremely influential and have longevity. One blog post can reach a niche target audience more effectively than a TVC. When a blogger writes about a product or a brand, that blog entry is more effective than campaigns, because of its content characteristics. The fact that bloggers have influence in other social channels is another plus.

How can you communicate with your future brand advocates?

Don’t hesitate to communicate
After you have your brand advocate community, it is vital to show and prove your relationship is of mutual interests. Otherwise, one-sided beneficial behaviors of using or forcing them can backfire and they can lose their interest permanently.

Interact with brand advocates by replying them or posting comments. Show that you follow and appreciate them by thanking.

If they are frequently responding to your Tweets or Facebook posts, reply them and thank them. You can share their content, too. A further step can be inviting them to your events. You may also contact them via e-mail. With contests, lotteries or games keep their interests going.

Monitor the advocates of other brands
As you are trying to find and engage brand advocates of your brand, competitors are trying to practice similar strategies. By using social media monitoring tools you may find and observe the advocates of other brands. Monitoring the rivalry between the advocates of two brands or products can give you clues about their strategies. Monitoring also helps you to develop interactions with brand advocates or influencers in their own social media sphere. You should analyze the whole action in quantitative and qualitative basis. Don’t forget to keep your attention on the content based data that you are collecting. Their strategies can give you clues for creative material.

Share information and entertain
As part of your communication with brand advocates, another important aspect is to share specialized and customized information created exclusively for them via problem solving guides, tutorials, webinars, Google Hangouts, reports or other blogs that can interest them. Be careful about not being boring or too serious. Everybody needs to be entertained, don’t forget that their interest is by choice. To keep it in balance, infotainment style shares would be better.

Get in touch with your brand advocates offline
Periodically, for example once a month, set up online or offline meet up events in their area or city. They can test your new products or services at these events and get connected with you or others personally.

Surprise them with giveaways. Giving away products or special promotional gifts appealing just to them is very normal and there is nothing wrong with that. Compensating them for the time they are investing for your brand is natural and another motivation factor.

A further level can be organizing more educational events they can access to communicate with your experts by diverse training sessions or courses and workshops according to their interests or potential engagement for your brand.

So, how do you communicate with them?
Please share your experiences on social media marketing with influencers and brand advocates!

Kurt Gürel is a content marketing expert at Tick Tock Boom. He is experienced in content development, research and PR; educated in communication & sociolinguistics. As a hopeless linguistics, communication science and social media studies addict, beside his profession he has great interest in intermediality in arts and literature. Every non-mainstream sport arouse his curiosity.

  • Duygu Gümüşel

    nice work. “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” A.W. 🙂

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