Have you ever been so thrilled with a product – be it a new pair of jeans, a cup of coffee, or a cleaning product – that you become a loyal customer and consistently recommend it to everyone you know?
If the answer is yes, then that means you have participated in brand advocacy – organic customer behaviors that support a company they legitimately love and wholeheartedly recommend. This phenomenon is one that has been in high demand by businesses for decades, but has become even more valuable in this age of social media, when it’s easier than ever to connect with people and share information. However, with the proliferation of information on the internet, it can be extremely difficult – and, sometimes, extremely expensive – for brands to break through the noise and reach its desired audience.
This is why brand advocacy is so valuable. A Nielsen report found that 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over any other type of advertising, The Drum reported that 54% of people use social media to research products, and 8 out of 10 people who responded to a 2019 Rakuten Marketing survey said they made a purchase after seeing it endorsed by a content creator.
It’s easy to see why brands want to inspire customers to become brand advocates – but how, exactly, should they go about doing that? It’s not quite as complicated as you may think, and no, you don’t have to resort to subliminal messaging.
Here’s how to go about it:
Stay true to your company values
Whether you produce natural deodorant, cute pet accessories, or craft beer, your company operates based on certain values and principles – in fact, those values and principles may very well be what your customers love best about you! So when thinking about corporate communications, be it a press release, panel appearance, or tweet, those values and principles should shine through. Rather than try to match advertising or social media trends, think about what makes sense for your brand and then go from there.
The Ripped Bodice, a romance-exclusive bookstore in LA, does a great job of showcasing its brand values through its Instagram content, which features promos, in-store photos, and content from customers – you know exactly what you’re going to get when visiting their physical shop or ordering online.
Add strategies that build brand trust and brand loyalty to your context mix
It’s easy to think that all of your company’s content should be about selling – but honestly, customers gets tired of being asked to make a purchase all the time, even when they love your products. So mix it up! Add in information that educates people about your company, spotlight where ingredients or materials come from, highlight your staff members, showcase corporate responsibility initiatives, and don’t be afraid to take a stand, when appropriate.
One brand that is truly outstanding at this is Ben & Jerry’s. The ice cream company is as well-known for its creative, cleverly named flavors as it is for its excellent corporate culture and commitment to social justice causes – and its social media content mirrors its playful, hippie-tinged attitude and bold activist voice.
A screenshot of Ben & Jerry’s Twitter feed taken on March 10, 2021.
Encourage customers to share positive experiences
Though it might seem awkward to ask customers to share their positive thoughts and experiences with your brand or products, it’s still worthwhile, as it lets your customers know that you value their feedback and gives them an opportunity to gush about you. If you feel you need to add an incentive, offering a rewards program, an exclusive discount code, or customer referral code can help motivate people to share their thoughts and get the word out.
Once the reviews start pouring in, it is worthwhile to engage with the posts and share customer feedback on social media, in email blasts, and on your website. It will not only please your customers that you’re taking the time to read and respond to feedback, but can help to attract new customers who are looking for honest feedback about your business.
For example, online shop Modcloth often shares user-generated content from customers who post images of themselves wearing clothing and accessories they’ve purchased. These posts act as positive reviews and show how real customers are using the products in daily life.
Focus on meaningful engagement
Whether it’s a social post, face-to-face interaction, or private customer message, engaging with people in a meaningful way will go a long way in inspiring them to become a brand advocate. By putting in the time to hear people’s experiences with your business, read their messages, and respond to their social media comments, you’ll show both existing and potential customers that you value them and think of them as more than just another sale.
What’s more, this is a great way to showcase your brand voice and to delight people by interacting with them, especially in unexpected ways! A particularly great example of this comes from what may sound like an unlikely place – the Museum of English Rural Life, or MERL – whose interactions with people on Twitter are always sharp, witty, educational, and refreshing.
So there you have it! The four easy ways to inspire brand advocacy and turn your customers into your best marketing strategy – all without having to boost your marketing budget.
If you need help coming up with a stellar content strategy, we can help! Reach out by dropping us an email – we’re [email protected].