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Best Practices for Building Brand Advocacy in Social Media

By John McTigueOct 10, 2011

Executives want to know "how many hits?" or "how many likes?" did the latest marketing campaign or promotion receive. While these statistics can be helpful, other KPI's deserve more attention in your inbound marketing strategy. "How many 'brand advocates' did we attract this month" is a much more useful metric. Here's why.

What is a Brand Advocate?

In an article posted on Mashable.com, Meteor Solutions reported that 1% of a site's audience can generate as much as 20% of a site's traffic through the sharing of a link or content with others. This same 1% has an impact on 30% or more of the actions on brand websites by making recommendations, referrals, or noting promotions. We call these social media influencers "brand advocates." Businesses should pay very close attention to these influencers. These "fans" can have significant impact on brand awareness and reputation as well as bottom line sales and profits for any given campaign. The question is, how to find them and support them.

how to find and nurture brand advocates in social media

How to Find Brand Advocates

New social media analytics tools such as Traackr help businesses find and study the habits of their brand advocates. These tools track how often your business or campaign information is shared or referenced by specific persons and how often this occurs by tracking keyword phrases and analyzing the "reach" that advocates have with each social media update. With this information you can better gauge who your influencers are and how much impact they have on your traffic and sales leads.

Get to Know Your Brand Advocates

Now that you have identified your brand advocates, your next step is to better foster your relationships with them. This can be accomplished by further studying social media analytics data to understand what content the influencers are most likely to share and where they are likely to share it. Some may prefer videos shared on Facebook, while others may only share discounts or special deals via Twitter or location based services. Still others prefer "how-to's" and best practices topics in blog posts and share them in LinkedIn or Twitter. You can assess and compare the influence of your brand advocates using tools like Klout.

What may be more difficult is to determine the motivation of a brand advocate. Are they simply a hard-core fan of your product or service? Do they want to work for you or receive some type of reward for their loyalty? Most often, these influencers simply appreciate an acknowledgement, and hope to get more viewers or fans themselves when they recommend your products.

Now, Reach Out to Them Whenever They Speak

    • Use social media monitoring tools to "listen" to your brand advocates.
    • Respond immediately with simple "thank you's" in the same social network when they mention your brand or share your content. Feel free to share or retweet their updates that mention your brand and content. This is not considered spam by the vast majority of social media users.
    • Return the favor by sharing their content early and often.
    • Study and use the same hashtags they use most often.
    • Participate more in the social networks, communities and forums where they are most active.
    • Engage them in conversations to get more comments and feedback.
    • Ask them for ideas and suggestions and invite both your followers and theirs to participate.
    • Reach out to them directly by phone or live meetings.
    • Invite them to provide guest blog posts and participate in webinars.

By nurturing your brand advocates, you enhance their brand as well as yours and help to cement relationships with them. As your advocates build their own brands, they enhance your reach and accelerate the process of building brand awareness each time they mention you or share your content. Recommendations by social media influencers are the building blocks for sustained growth in social media marketing. Finding these people and nurturing relationships with them should be one of your top inbound marketing priorities.


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The Author

John McTigue

With over 30 years of business and marketing experience, John loves to blog about ideas and trends that challenge inbound marketers and sales and marketing executives. John has a unique way of blending truth with sarcasm and passion with wit. You can connect with John via LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus.
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