The Power of Advocate Marketing

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This article written by Ann Burgraff, Chief Marketing Officer at Kuliza, was published in issue 08 of the Social Technology Quarterly.
Summary: Advocacy has become an increasingly important pursuit and objective for marketing as it becomes imperative for marketers to understand how brands are being discussed by consumers.

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The Power of Advocate Marketing

  1. 1. Social media has realized the power of advocate marketing. Most brands have a huge untapped resource in the form of delighted customers.These are advocates, the tireless promoters that believe in your company, evangelize your products and share their positive experiences. No one sells your products better than they do. But are you tapping their potential? Smart marketers invite their best customers to join advocate communities and participate in marketing and sales campaigns around social media, generate demands, conduct events and provide sales references. Brand advocates bring in more than just word of mouth. They will recommend your company and products because they have had a fantastic experience and want to help others. However, the key challenges for a brand trying to leverage advocates include The Power ofAdvocate Marketing Advocacy has become an increasingly important pursuit and objective for marketing as it becomes imperative for marketers to understand how brands are being discussed by consumers. by Ann Burgraff Photo Credit: idovermani recognising advocates, encouraging them to promote your brand, and sustaining this relationship. In my opinion, Jim Williams, VP Marketing at Influitive denotes the significant impact of brand advocacy in his article “Capital, not Cash: How to Appropriately Recognize Your Advocates.” Brand advocates become enthusiasts for a few innate reasons, one of them being the rule of reciprocity. At the start it’s pretty simple: advocates are fulfilled by the appreciation they have for something a brand does or makes. In return, they provide unsolicited support for that brand. But the exchange doesn’t stop there – the rule of reciprocity evolves. Over time, support turns into loyalty. Loyalty turns into advocacy. And as customers increase their level of commitment, they expect a corresponding increase in recognition Campaigns
  2. 2. Kuliza Social Technology Quarterly Issue 08 Fred Bals is the Media and Customer Relations Manager at Ektron, an Enterprise Digital Content Experience Management software company. The Challenge Fred needed a new level of energy and excitement at Ektron’s annual SYNERGY Customer Conference. He wanted to tap into his customers’ love for Ektron. The Plan Fred created a community using Influitive’s Advocate Hub through which customers and partners could easily advocate for Ektron. The Result Fred built a program that: • Crowdsourced 40+ customer-generated videos for the opening keynote address • Captured dozens of hours of customer interviews during the conference • Generated a tidal wave of speaker submissions for conference tracks - 90% of tracks were customer-generated content • Gained a 500 percent increase in award submissions Customers were highly involved. Many became stronger advocates and the conference was a huge success. A Ektron Embraces Advocate Marketing Case Study from the brand. Here’s where it gets a little tricky, because appropriate recognition requires a bit of finesse. In other words: you can’t just pay people for liking you. As Biggie Says: Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems Most of us do things for one of two reasons: business or pleasure– a.k.a. money or fun. Yet in the world of advocate marketing, combining the two is problematic; getting paid to do something fun takes all the fun out of it.Consequently, incentivizing has become a bit of a taboo when it comes to advocate marketing because it can result in some unintended and unsavory consequences: Great Expectations Exchanging monetary value for promotion conditions consumers to expect something in return for their advocacy. If and when you fail to meet those expectations, their level of appreciation can suddenly drop. Inauthenticity Paying for a recommendationimmediatelycompromises the value of the recommendation and the reputation of the recommender. Advocates aren’t shills. They pride themselves on their independence and authenticity. Greedy Spammers When consumers talk up a company because they have their eye on a prize, it becomes pretty obvious to third parties. They overfill Facebook feeds, Twitter feeds and product review sites, effectively cheapening their recommendations and likely peeving a follower or two. Recognize and Thank Reciprocity is about giving back, so make sure you’re recognizing the people who have already displayed solid support for your brand and not those who simply like you on social platforms, for example. Understand the difference between recognition and reward. Advocates should not be made to feel like they’re being paid for their support; rather, they should feel like the brand is genuinely and personally thanking them. References Williams,Jim.“Capital,not Cash: How to Appropriately RecognizeYour Advocates.” Influitive.29 Mar 2013. “Advocate Marketing Case Study: Ektron.” 22 Jan 2013.Influitive,Online Posting to SlideShare. video montage, “I am Ektron,” was shown during the opening of the conference. No recruiting was needed. Over Forty customer-generated videos were easily put into a compelling montage. Fred was able to mobilize attendees at the conference to create “one great song” to be played during conference breaks. He also captured hours of customer insights on a video that can be leveraged for future marketing, sales and product development purposes.

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