Introducing The First Ever Brandie Awards!
Advocate Recruiting: Why Current Audience?While 2014 has been dubbed the Year of the Advocate, there remains one glaring question marketers must answer ' where do you find brand advocates? Where do you look? Should we use social listening? A PR firm? A third-party influencer network? Maybe you don't have to go as far afield as you'd think.
First let's review what makes a great brand advocate:
- Great advocates opt in. They are willing to take proactive action in support of the brand'not just one time, but repeatedly over time.
- Great advocates have passion. They over-index in their love for the brand. They have not only purchased your product/service but have also recommended you.
- Great advocates get traction. These fans have the ability to create and distribute content that compels and engages her audience. When you're looking for great advocates you're looking for the people that other people trust.
With that definition in place, where are we most likely to find our most passionate, proactive and connected fans? Are they floating freely out in the internet? Some probably are. Can you find a few within existing third party 'influencer communities'? Perhaps. But where do you think the highest concentration of sustainably passionate and socially engaged brand fans exist? Our answer: Within your existing community.
For many brands, proactive and socially savvy fans (potential advocates), have already connected with the brand as customers, email subscribers, and social media fans. Brands simply need reach out to their existing communities and enable their advocates to reveal themselves.
We've identified several benefits to using your existing communities to recruit brand advocates:
- Proactive Passion: Existing fans have already taken the first step in becoming an advocate by proactively 'liking' or 'following' the brand page on social media, purchasing your products, or subscribing to your emails. For many, opting into an advocacy program is a natural next step.
- History of Engagement: Existing fans already have a proven track record of engaging with your content on social media. Much easier to get fans to do more of something they are already doing than to expect people who have no connection with your brand to start advocating for you online.
- Authenticity: By working with existing fans, you are simply taking your existing relationship to the next level ' not starting from scratch. Advocacy needs to be authentic in order to be effective and what better way to be authentic then to partner with the people who proactively and genuinely engage with your brand.
Note: At times marketers are hesitant to tap into their existing audience because they are so focused on reaching NEW fans. It's important to remember that advocates are not an audience target themselves'they are a medium through which you can reach new audiences more authentically and effectively than the brand is able to itself.
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Branderati Platform Powers Network of 20,000 Women BloggersBlissful Media Group, a boutique social media agency specializing in connecting brands and agencies with women and moms has partnered with Branderati, a leading influencer relationship management platform, to create a new campaign management system for Blissful Media Group's influencer network, One2One Network.
A recent study reinforces what Blissful Media Group already knows: women in North America spend over 12 hours per week on social media and those women who use social media are much more influential than the general population both online and offline.
Founded in 2008, One2One Network helps brands reach these social media-savvy women and moms through its existing membership of over 20,000 members including 10,000 bloggers who engage with, co-create and share brand content across many social platforms.
“The challenge,” says Blissful Media Group’s CEO Barbara Jones, “was finding a technology partner that not only fully understood influencer marketing, but could also handle our large existing membership, allow us to engage the members in creative ways through custom modules, and give us the ability to further scale our network capabilities in the future. After researching several options, we found the team and technology at Branderati to be a perfect fit for Blissful Media Group.”
Branderati’s platform and social CRM tools allow One2One Network to more efficiently and effectively conduct the range of influencer engagement tactics offered to their CPG, Food & Beverage, Beauty & Fashion, Technology and other categories that need to reach women consumer decision-makers.
The new platform will streamline the process to identify and engage with the most relevant influencers for each blogger outreach or social media campaign, offer a more precise way to profile members’ interests and influence, and allow for a real-time campaign performance tracking and reporting.
“With this new system in place,” adds BMG President Paula Bruno, “we have more to offer our clients in terms of campaign engagement, measurement, and even real-time research. Add to that Branderati’s innovative social CRM tools and we’re in an excellent position to meet our clients’ need for creative solutions fin this ever-evolving with the marketplace.”
“We have long been fans of BMG and the One-to-One network,” says Branderati founder and CEO Mark Curtis. “Having followed them closely, we clearly understood that not every “influencer relationship management” platform could handle the demands of managing close working relationships with 20,000 one-to-one network members across hundreds of campaigns. Our ability to enable BMG to elegantly manage and grow their network is a great testament to the power of Branderati.”
About Blissful Media Group:
Blissful Media Group is a boutique social media marketing agency that specializes in influencer marketing, native advertising, social engagement and promotion of live events targeting women and moms. Blissful Media Group is the parent company of One2One Network, Blissfully Domestic and the former BlissDom Events. Blissful Media Group has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies by engaging their women/mom influencer network.
BRANDERATI is the industry leading marketing platform for advocacy and influencer relations. The company works with agencies, publishing partners, and brands to direct, reward and amplify entire networks of influential advocates. BRANDERATI's turnkey strategic services and its robust influencer marketing platform provide the foundation for a complete and sustainable program, from recruiting, through engagement, to measurement and optimization. The platform has formed the foundation of advocate influencer initiatives for more than 50 brands across different industries, from beauty and luxury to fashion and retail, to consumer packaged goods and technology.
How to Mobilize Your Brand Advocates through StorytellingWith the decline of traditional media and its effectiveness, brands have been turning to brand advocates to get their message across to potential customers.
Brand advocates are existing customers of a brand who are the biggest fans of that brand and who are passionate about the brand and its products. They don’t need an incentive to spread their love and ignite a word of mouth (both online and offline), because they are emotionally invested in brand’s mission and its story.
Neilson’s 2012 survey of global trust in advertising found that 92 percent of respondents trust recommendations from people they know, and 70 percent trust consumers' opinions posted online. And this isn’t the only data point that speaks to the power of advocates. At BRANDERATI we have put together a deck of the 26 stats marketers should know about advocacy that you might find interesting.
The most powerful thing about organic advocacy is the story behind customer’s experience. And because the endorsement is not paid for by the brand, and the story is something others can truly connect with, it becomes a great motivator in getting others to act on the endorsement. Advocacy, done right, becomes true influence. And influence is what impacts behaviors. Because the ultimate goal of marketing is to not just to tell a great story, but tell a story that would make people want to get to know a brand and buy the product. And that’s what advocacy is all about.
Many brands have been turning to customers, asking them to tell their own stories and putting their own fans center-stage. By giving their most vocal advocates a platform to share their own experiences the brands are effectively turning their brand love into authentic influence. Brands are able to spark engagement around real stories from real customers in real-time, thus massively increasing the reach of their message and driving impact to company’s bottom line.
Let’s take a look at several examples.
Buick wanted to change perception of its brand, and they thought the best way to do this was to ask their own advocates why they love their Buicks and to share their stories. In only a few weeks, Buick advocates had written over 1,600 love letters and 16% of advocates had shared them on Facebook. The individual stories were magnified, thanks to the brand power of Buick – individuals were given a corporate platform and their stories reached further than they would have on their own.
One marketing problem that faces a brand like Google is that, although it is a truly massive, global brand, it is very hard to represent their services in a visual way. To give their marketing a human quality, Google asked customers to tell their own stories of the ways in which Google had changed their lives, their organizations or their businesses.
The results were commercials that were inspiring, touching and emotional – quite a feat from a software company. This one from Mark Kempton, whose survival of the Queenland flooding depended on his rescuers using Google Maps, has been viewed over 5.5 million times on YouTube, and brings an individual story to a global audience.
For Weight Watchers, sharing customers’ stories is about inspiring others and giving credibility to their diet plan. They use celebrities for many of their campaigns, but they also give a platform to their ‘ordinary’ fans who have used their plan to shed the pounds. Their website, magazine and marketing all feature many stories of real people who have lost weight through Weight Watchers – so you can find someone just like you to use as a role model. The company is always on the look-out for success stories so that they can provide a constant stream of positive messages to inspire their customers through their online and off-line channels.
To tell customers stories effectively you need to connect with fans and ask them to tell you about the difference your product or service has made to their lives. Sharing their story widely can help their individual tales reach a much larger audience than they would ordinarily. Your brand platform combined with your customers’ inspirational stories can lead to a winning combination of advocacy and influence. But to do so effectively and in a sustainable way, you have to build authentic relationships with your advocates and fans long-term. Without that you will just create another short-term marketing campaign, whereas what you are really looking for is inspiring a movement around your brand, your mission, your story.
Brand Advocacy: The New Year Resolutions You Need To KeepFor some, the start of a new year simply means writing the date wrong for a couple days. For others, it is a surge of momentum and energy that marks a fresh start. For brands, it’s another year to continue building relationships with their customers. The Year of Brand Advocacy is upon us, which means we’re moving beyond the large fan/follower numbers and boring ads. This year is about truly moving your audience from Like to Love to Loyalty.
Here are the New Year Resolutions brands need to accomplish in order to make the Year of Brand Advocacy their year.
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
In order to nurture brand love, you must first know your true advocates. Social revolution has made it significantly easier for customers to voice their opinions about brands. Here are some of the reasons consumers worldwide write about brands:
Your customers want to be heard. Now you just have to take the time to listen. Meaningful relationship is a two way street and it flourishes when there’s great communication. Investing efforts in creating a flow of communication encourages trust, honesty, and engagement and it won’t stop there. Knowing your audience will allow you to identify and meet your most passionate and engaged fans—your advocates.
IGNITE YOUR ADVOCACY MOVEMENT
People who love your brand:
- tell twice as many people about their purchases more than non-advocates;
- spend twice as much on their favorite brands than the average customer
- are four times more likely thank non-advocates to share information about products, brands, sales or stores online.
Advocates are your most organic, passionate, and engaged fans. Engaging them in a sustainable way is crucial to harnessing the not-so-secret power of word-of-mouth (WOM) and growing your brand.
Mckinsey reports that a word-of-mouth recommendation is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decision. Imagine having access to the trusted sources behind those recommendations for your brand. A mere 12% increase in brand advocacy on average generates 2x increase in revenue and growth rate. Your most passionate fans are ready and willing to engage with you. Here are a couple things to get you started:
- Encourage participation with your brand by providing small tasks or goals. Doing so keeps your advocates active and involved.
- Give recognition. Your true advocates don’t need to be incentivized with freebies but acknowledging them will go a long way. It demonstrates that you’re not only paying attention but are going out of the way to build a relationship with them and appreciate their contributions.
- Provide a platform, a unique community for your advocates to engage with you.
NURTURE BRAND LOVE THAT LASTS
What’s better than one brand advocate? Twenty advocates. What’s better than twenty advocates? A community of advocates. Providing a marketing platform specifically for your advocates and influencers will not only allow you to better manage the relationship with them but it will simultaneously create a sense of community. Twenty-five percent of people choose to engage with brands because they want to engage in a community of brand fans. Additionally 54% of consumers agree that the smaller the community the greater the influence. Growing and building a community of advocate influencers empowers them, and they, in turn, empower you brand. When done right, it is the gift that keeps on giving.
You can’t go wrong with these New Year Resolutions! BRANDERATI is here to help you make 2014 – The Year of Advocacy – YOUR year.
Tis’ the Season—and Time—For Brand LoveMarketers, give your brand a gift and extend that holiday cheer for your brand advocates past the holiday season. Brand advocacy after all is on its way to becoming ‘the new black’ of marketing—effective marketing that is.
Marketing thought leaders are predicting 2014 will be the Year of Advocacy and you don’t want to be left behind. In fact you don’t have to be. All brands up the ante during the holiday season, investing in large and cleverly placed ad space, tear-jerking commercials, and festive discounts after discounts vying for a space underneath a Christmas tree. Brands become extremely visible and vocal during the holiday season. Why not ride that wave into the New Year and continue to be seen and heard through the voice, passion, and ambassadorship of your brand advocates? Investing time and effort into brand advocacy encourages true, genuine, and more importantly, sustainable brand love that will surely help find your way underneath more Christmas trees next year.
Unsure of where to start? Well, what better way to say Happy New Year to your brand advocates than including them in your upcoming strategic plans for 2014? Giving your advocates a peek into your new projects will certainly make them feel a part of your brand (because the reality is - they already are a part of your brand). Take it a step further and actually include them in the projects by providing exciting opportunities to engage with you and give you feedback. By doing so, you’ll have brand advocates who not only like your product but also genuinely invested in the future of your brand!
What’s next? How do you build a successful advocacy program? Why does it matter? Well, we have prepared the roundup of some of our most popular 2013 blog posts that will answer some or all of your questions and help start 2014: The Year of Advocacy on a strong note. And, of course, Branderati team is always available to answer your questions in person.
• The Age of Advocacy and Influence: 26 Stats Marketers Should Know
• Build A Movement, Not A Campaign, And You'll Ignite Passion In Your Brand's True Believers
• Quality Not Quantity: How Advocates Blow Traditional Advertising Out Of the Water
• 8 Essentials of Creating a Sustainable Advocacy Program
• How To Make It By Not Faking It With The Power Of Brand Advocates
• Want to find a brand ambassador? Start with your employees
Brand Advocacy: 3 Tips for Mobilizing Your Customers and Turning Them into AdvocatesDespite the frequent use of influencers by brands in their marketing mix, advocates seem to be a more natural, more effective, extension of brand’s message. Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them. Because they are not paid and are not the popular influencers with the large following, word of mouth is their go-to sharing tactic. It is important for a business to know who these advocates are and to become aware of what kind of word of mouth is going on behind closed doors. Studies show that a 12% increase in Brand Advocacy, on average, generates a 2x increase in revenue growth rate plus boosts market share. Engaging these advocates in a sustainable way is critical to a brand’s success.
According to Craig Rosenberg, there are several things you can do to successfully engage your advocates. The first place to look when searching for brand advocates is your happy, satisfied customers. Although happy customers can be turned into advocates, the process isn’t always as easy as it seems. Here are some tips to help you successfully turn your advocates into a marketing brand army.
Once you have located your happy customers (or advocates), you should encourage participation with your brand. Generally speaking, you should stick with small tasks at first (i.e. following your brand on twitter) and gradually build up to more time consuming tasks (i.e. blog recommendations).
Three very powerful materials a business can ask for from an advocate are testimonials, referrals, and content contributions. According to “The Advocate Marketing Playbook” referrals by advocates are four to ten times more valuable than regular leads.
A key to having your advocates follow through with your requests is to limit the amount that you ask of them so that they do not feel overwhelmed. That way they feel as if they are involved, but do not feel like you are asking too much of them.
Another way to get advocates to participate with the tasks that you assign them is to establish a cadence. Set a routine that people can look forward to and engage in. They need to know what to expect, what you are trying to accomplish, and how they can be involved.
The most important part is to make the process enjoyable. Keeping the environment fun, varied, and interesting helps people ease into participating with your brand. By assigning customers small tasks, keeping them involved, and giving them fun opportunities, you are increasing the chances that a customer will become an advocate and increasing their rate of participation.
Giving recognition to your advocates to thank them for their contribution to your success is always a good step toward a positive brand/advocate relationship. Recognition gives individuals the ability for their voices to be heard. This is one of the best gifts you can give, especially to someone who already believes in your brand.
Rosenberg offers the following suggestions on giving recognition to your customer:
1. Give your customer premium access to your product or service
2. Offer a sneak peek at your product before you launch it
3. Extend a special invite to meet with your product managers or CEO
4. Give badge or other award to recognize excellence in their field
5. Write a personal, hand-written thank you note to show your appreciation
If your company is using advocate marketing, it is important for you to genuinely care about your advocates. Recognition is key to showing that you care. According to Rosenberg, “It’s amazing how powerful it is to say, you are the 20 greatest customers of all time, let’s build this company together.”
Provide a Marketing Platform
Finally, it is important to manage your advocacy marketing program with technology built specifically for advocate marketing. This application should allow you to organize, communicate with, and mobilize your brand advocates. It is a crucial resource for advocates as they can obtain important information such as what tasks you currently are requesting and see the latest news and opportunities within the company.
Not only does a platform manage advocates, it also assists in optimizing your program. It can show what tasks were the most successful, track advocate activity, and integrate with your other sales and marketing applications. This enables you to accurately measure the results of your advocacy marketing program.
Finally, a platform allows you to start building an army of brand advocates. As Rosenberg says, at the end of the day, “Cultivating your advocates and building a group of people that are voracious about your company is just good business.”
To find out how BRANDERATI can help power your advocacy programs and ignite brand love, please request a demo.
How to Use Social Media to Boost In-Store SalesSo much for the internet killing off in-store purchasing: the results of surveys by research firm Vision Critical show sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are driving even more in-store purchases than online sales – an incredible 41% of consumers research products online before purchasing them in stores, while only while 26% of consumers browse in stores and then buy online.
Nordstrom hopes in-store pinning can drive sales
We’re used to hearing how Pinterest is driving e-commerce, but what is equally interesting is that Pinterest popularity can be used to drive sales in physical stores as well. GigaOM recently reported that department store Nordstrom has been tagging items that have been re-pinned on Pinterest with the site’s logos, in order to demonstrate their appeal among users. Clearly, Pinterest sharing is seen as a marker of good taste by Nordstrom, who will be hoping to appeal to their social media-savvy customers’ sense of fashion trends.
Photo courtesy of Nordstrom.
QR codes can expand the purchasing experience… and grow your online fanbase
Many brands have not quite got to grips with QR code technology, but it offers a slick way to link to expanded product information, your Facebook page, or even a media experience, such as an audio track for a record or a film trailer for a DVD.
Buying a new bike can be an expensive business, so you want to have the necessary information in front of you before you purchase. Evans Cycles feature QR codes on all of their product information tags that link through to a mobile optimized site with all the information you might need to know about the bike, plus a section to read and write product reviews, making for a wholly interactive service. As 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, encouraging an online conversation really can lead to more sales.
Photo courtesy of Econsultancy.com
Diesel Jeans recently showed the potential of QR codes to cross over into an online presence and promote customer advocacy with a campaign to link their real-world stores to their Facebook page. Customers could scan in-store QR codes to Like a certain product on Facebook, highlighting their retail habits to their friends and building an online/offline relationship between fans, products and brand discussion.
Photo courtesy of Simplyzesty.com
Turning customers into Facebook fans
Target have been trying to turn the tide of customers looking online to find a cheaper alternative by offering discounts to their Facebook fans. The catch is that they are only available in store. Customers can get online deal prices by bringing a barcode into a store on their phone or printed out on paper to redeem when they checkout – and shoppers can see what offers their Facebook friends have chosen, and earn more offers by asking their Facebook friends to sign up too. The scheme is called Cartwheel, and the app keeps your discounts neatly organized – way neater than clipping coupons. It also helps to build Target’s Facebook fanbase and potentially reach more customers with targeted marketing information.
Photo courtesy of facebook.com/appcenter/targetcartwheel
The internet at our fingertips
These examples all demonstrate the importance of the rise of smartphone ownership for connecting our online and offline worlds. The Pew Internet 2013 Smartphone Ownership Report states that 56% of all American adults are now smartphone adopters. Some stores, far from trying to block in-store smartphone use, fearing it will lead customers to internet purchases instead, have embraced the technology: department store John Lewis has offered customers free in-store Wi-Fi access since the end of 2011 – and has seen its online sales increase by 44% as it has integrated its in-store and online presence.
There has been a general movement towards assimilating smartphone use into the everyday physical retail experience, such as Wal-Mart Scan & Go self-checkout pilot program, which allows smartphone users to scan barcodes as they shop and pay for the items at a self-checkout station once they’re done. The original pilot has been successful enough to expand into 130 more stores and from an iPhone-only feature to Android too. This sort of technology opens up the potential for the online experience in physical stores.
Photo courtesy of Wal-mart
The important thing is the smart integration between the online and offline world. Your marketing strategy should incorporate your social media strategy as a way to enhance your more traditional techniques, including the physical retail experience, and to build an engaged online fanbase that translates into real-world sales.
8 Ways To Get Bloggers Buzzing About Your BrandIf you are a locally-based business, connecting with nearby customers and community influencers is vital for your business. Word of mouth can be as important, if not more important, for neighborhood businesses as traditional advertising, and this is where activating your local customers to act as your advocates can have a real impact on growing your customer base.
It’s no secret that customers trust word-of-mouth above corporate advertising: according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust peer recommendations and only 53% trust content that you create and post on your website.
Even for national companies, the benefits of thinking local can be impressive. Drug store chain Duane Reade recently initiated a campaign to boost their New York City customer base through localization strategies that focused on user-generated content to reach new audiences. Duane Reade partnered with brand advocate bloggers who are “not actual employees, but we treat them as such [and] we offer incentives and introduce [them to] initiatives before the public” and allow them to amplify the corporate message at a local level. The result was a 28% lift in year-over-year sales, a 5x ROI, and 20 million impressions over the entire period of the campaign. “[We had] almost 2,000 pieces of original content being generated over this campaign, so it was huge for us,” said a Duane Reade spokesperson.
For any company, large or small, partnerships with local bloggers can be a powerful way of tapping into local networks and reaching potential new customers. You need to be confident in your bloggers to allow them to generate the content for you, so some sort of vetting or oversight might be necessary during recruiting and engagement phases.
8 tips for activating your local advocates:
- Research local bloggers and talk to them about potential partnership opportunities. Be sure to read their work thoroughly to find bloggers who are a good fit for your business. Build long-term relationships with them.
- On Twitter look for local hashtags that would fit your business, such as #SeattleWeddingBusinesses or #MaineLandscaping and include this hashtag in your tweets. This helps to build a community of similar local businesses, affiliates and customers who can re-tweet your messages and mention you.
- Local ‘Tweetups’ are becoming very popular: literally, people who are linked on Twitter who meet locally. Be sure to include your Twitter handle prominently on your website to encourage customers to mention you, and don’t forget to re-tweet positive messages. Be sure to respond to criticism too by getting in touch and trying to resolve any problems.
- Explore usage of the location-based services for help you do so. Google+ Local is the new Google Places, and it is essential for locally-based businesses to have a presence here to ensure prominence in local searches. List your own business details, upload photos and videos, and ask for customer reviews.
- Be sure to always ask for reviews on social media, whether it is Google+, Trip Advisor, Amazon, or any other online forum for customer feedback. Customers are far more likely to give reviews if you ask them for it. Remember to thank them for their time once the review is posted.
- Create a referral program that rewards customers for referring others.
- Recognize your most vocal advocates by featuring them online and celebrating them offline through Fan of the Week or similar programs.
- Build social communities for sustainable word-of-mouth. Use social media to reach out to loyal customers and offer promotions, first-looks and discounts to your audience for sharing your message. And make sure to feature the links to your social communities such as Facebook page, Twitter handle, Pinterest page, Google+ page, etc. on:
- In-store receipts
- Storefronts and walls inside your business location
- Menus and napkins
- Email communications
- Any marketing assets such as images and videos
- Local advertising such as local newspapers and more
Advocacy is a powerful force at a national level, but if your customers are locally based, then their recommendations can be invaluable. Taking advantage of that to boost the visibility for your business and get the word out to new customers. Let your valued customers do the talking for you: they are your greatest marketing asset.
- In-store receipts
Reputation And Crisis Management In The Digital WorldIn life, and in business, reputation is everything.That said, reputation is very fragile and it only takes one mistake to cause irreparable damage to your company’s image.This is especially true in the digital world where radical transparency and high customer expectations reign supreme. Ignoring strong public digital voices isn't an option any more. Companies have to learn to not only communicate effectively in the social media age, but to truly listen to the social chatter and respond in the way that align with both brand and customer expectations.
In the online era, it becomes critical for the business of any size to have a social media crisis management plan – or even better, a crisis prevention plan – in place for those times when things go wrong. And it is truly the matter of “when” vs. “if.”
Let’s take a look at some of the ways to avoid social media disasters, prevent them from escalating, or handle things if everything goes sideways.
1. Listen and Be Present
In the past, companies like The Gap have been accused of not responding to customers’ concerns about faulty merchandise or refund issues – simply because they were not set up to handle customer service problems through their social media channels. Unfortunately, in the digital age, not listening to the social chatter or having presence on social communities can reflect badly on your brand. Even responding with a simple link to the correct website page is helpful – and shows your customers you take them seriously.
And listen! Sometimes social listening tools will pick up the chatter about a topic that you may not expect and will give you time to address it before it blows up within the social stratosphere. Most of the brand disasters could have been prevented just by picking up the early chatter and being prepared to address it before it escalates.
2. Set The Right Expectations
If you are a small business or have limited bandwidth to respond to customer inquiries in real-time, then set the right expectations upfront on the timing within which people should expect your response. 24, 48, 72 hours… Be specific and make that expectation visible to ensure it is seen. But always stick to it.
3. Be Transparent
Certain companies have been guilty of removing posts they didn’t agree with, ignoring those posts, or else claiming that they had been hacked, when they clearly hadn’t. Trying to cover up or remove justified but negative comments can make you look as if you are ignoring a problem or, worse off, don’t care about the customers. It is critical to be honest and upfront about any issues you or your company may be facing. If you made a mistake, admit it, apologize, and do everything in your power to correct it. We are all human and humans make mistakes. Your customers don’t expect you and your teams to be perfect, just transparent and honest. They expect you treat them like family, a part of your tribe, and that means not betraying their trust with back-peddling and cover ups.
Warren Buffet once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
4. Respond Thoughtfully
It’s worth putting some effort into writing a thoughtful reply aimed at addressing your customers’ concerns. Showing that you care about their experience and are willing to address problems (or even go above and beyond) is a great way of actually winning around critics and turning them into fans. According to The Retail Consumer Report, commissioned by RightNow and conducted online by Harris Interactive in January 2011, of those customers who received a reply in response to their negative review 33% turned around and posted a positive review, and 34% deleted their original negative review. 85% of consumers said they would be willing to pay anywhere between 5-25% over the standard price to ensure a superior customer experience.
Caring really pays off. It builds trust and allows you to further nurture relationships with your current customers. Word-of-mouth recommendation from your current satisfied customers are much more influential than your own brand messages, and they will bring new customers in.
5. Do Not Lose Your Cool - Ever
There may be times when you disagree with your customers. But being rude or attacking them in social forums is absolutely unacceptable. Provide the best information you can and do your best to satisfy every inquiry. If nothing helps and a customer insists on being rude and un-cooperative, just ignore him/her and move on; in those rare times, no matter what you do, nothing will probably be good enough.
And don’t take everything personally. The customer isn’t angry with you, (s)he frustrated with the product or a brand as a whole. Don’t take these interactions personally. Just do your best to help them out and move on.
6. Have a crisis Management Team In Place
Going back to my point #1…When you pick up a digital chatter around a specific issue, you have a great opportunity to address it before it blows up in your face. But be sure you have the way to quickly escalate and resolve the issue. This process should be a part of your overall crisis management plan. I suggest forming a team consisting of team members from PR, HR, legal, marketing, and other relevant teams that can come together to quickly craft and post a response that would quite down the chatter and will help solve the issue at hand.
7. Manage Access To Your Social Media Accounts Carefully
There have been instances of employees posting personal updates to brand accounts not realizing that they haven’t switched to the right account. Making sure you are limiting access to only knowledgeable community managers who have appropriate training with avoid mistakes such as these.
And then there is a process for managing access when employees switch jobs or leave the company altogether. When music retail chain HMV laid off a large number of its employees in January 2013, bosses didn’t realize their marketing team – who had been made redundant – still had access to the brand’s social media sites. The team went online to protest at the way the situation had been handled by executives, tweeting statements like “There are over 60 of us being fired at once! Mass execution of loyal employees who love the brand. #hmvXFactorFiring” before they were finally shut down.
8. Post Moderation Guidelines
Most sites have their own Terms and Conditions, but you can also post your own moderation guidelines on your social media pages to make it obvious what behavior will or will not be tolerated within your social communities. Being up-front about your “house rules” makes it simpler to take down offensive posts by referring to your rules and pointing out how they were violated.
9. Hire Experienced Community Managers
There are still some organizations that treat social media communities like an afterthought and leave it to the interns to post an occasional tweet. Your social media is every bit a part of your brand image and reputation – so hire professionals! A community manager should be experienced, know your brand in and out, understand your brand’s voice and personality, and, most importantly, love your customers. Community manager is a critical position that serves as a voice of a customer within your organization, so don’t underestimate it. Plus, a seasoned community manager will know the right way to deal with disgruntled customers, be able to deal with social media take-over attempts, and know when to take the conversation off-line.
10. And Remember...You Will Never Please Everybody
Sometimes, as a leader and as a brand, you will have to be willing to be misunderstood. If you strongly believe in what you are doing or in a specific point of view, but some people don’t share the same opinion, you will have to be willing to stand by your decision. In this case you will have to be prepared to be transparent and honest about it, share the reasons why you feel so strongly about the subject, and be prepared to calmly address the questions and criticism that come your way. That is where your social communities become even more important – this is the opportunity for your fans and your tribe (people who share your point of view and believe in the same vision) to chime in and help support your message/cause. In cases such as these organic brand love and advocacy are powerful allies in defending brand’s reputation and spreading brand’s message.
Everybody makes mistakes. But having a solid plan in place to address the negative whiplash or complaints in a timely and transparent manner will not only help preserve your company’s reputation, but confirm yet again that you are a business that cares about its customers and willing to go an extra mile to make them happy and live up to your reputation.
Originally posted on Forbes.
How To Make It By Not Faking It With The Power Of Brand AdvocatesWhat is it about word-of-mouth that gets marketers excited?
Your friend might not be an expert, but according to research by Nielson “ninety-two percent of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.”
Companies pour millions of dollars into traditional media advertising, but why do they do this when word-of-mouth is so much more likely to drive sales? It’s because activating your customers to work for you as your brand advocates is hard work. It takes time and effort to build brand advocacy: the effects are long-term rather than immediate, and companies like to see a return on their investment sooner rather than later.
But for those brands that harness the power of trusted sources in the form of word-of-mouth, the rewards are incredible, and long lasting. For a long-term pay back you need a long-term strategy.
You just have to look at the tremendous growth of retailing site Amazon to see the power of reviews. When the site was in its infancy CEO Jeff Bezos insisted on allowing negative as well as positive reviews. Such a thing was unheard of and investors were strongly against the idea, but Bezos persisted and the review system has become one of the biggest strengths of the site. Not only are there reviews these days, but even the reviews are reviewed, with ‘helpful’ buttons that customers can vote on.
The rise of social media has made the popularity of brands instantly visible, and audiences are able to interact with their favorite companies like never before. Fans can ‘Like’, follow and watch the latest video posts from brands, with their activity showing up in their timelines so their friends can see and be inspired to get involved too. Social media has now taken center stage in marketing campaigns, with popular campaigns designed to be shared on social networks alongside regular, traditional media. Audiences trust what their friends are sharing, and will be more likely to watch a video or click a link shared by their friends.
But the issue of trust has got more complex as some companies realized the selling power of peer reviews and invested money in fake reviewers to post up five-star reviews on sites like Amazon. Botnets can generate fake clicks automatically to make a post appear more popular, and Facebook has allegedly recently removed thousands of fake ‘Likes’ from their site. Gartner estimate that by 2014, 10-15% of social media reviews will be fakes, paid for by companies. That is why Amazon introduced its ‘helpful’ review feature, in order to combat anomalous reviews. But, naturally, as fast as extra checks are introduced, companies can pay fake users to endorse reviews. As social media becomes central to marketing campaigns, the stakes are raised and investment in large social media followings will increase.
The Gartner report estimates that “at least two Fortune 500 brands [will be] facing litigation from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over the next two years.” Companies who try to cheat the system erode trust in social media endorsement, and their own reputation is instantly damaged. Just as positive messages can go viral on social media, negative ones can go viral too. Brands who try to underestimate the importance of trust will quickly find their strategies backfire.
The drawbacks of trying to deceive your audience far outweigh the short-term gains of ‘Likes’ and follows. In an era when trust is more important than ever, trying to cheat the system will lose you that trust very quickly. Although it takes time and effort to build up communities and ignite true movement, in the long run the pay-off is worth it, and it will be less effort than trying to re-build trust once you have lost it.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the studies done by multiple companies out there. According to Deloitte, customers referred by other loyal customers have a 37% higher retention rate. ComScore says that advocates tell twice as many people about their purchases than non-advocates. And according to Zuberance, offers shared by trusted advocates convert at 4-10x higher rate than offers sent by brands.
If you want real ‘Likes’, follows, reviews, and passionate recommendations, both online and offline, don’t try to go out and invite more guests to your party. First take care of those who already came to hang out with you and who already love you. You will have to work to retain those relationships, but this work will reward you with that ultimate goal for marketers: a loyal community who will recommend you to others and bring their friends and family along. And in every single case the smaller community of passionate people having smaller reach will result in substantially higher impact on purchasing decisions and on breeding further advocacy than a million Likes ever could!
Originally posted on Fastcompany.
Cartoon of the WeekHere at BRANDERATI, we appreciate the humor in all things marketing. Thus we hope you'll also enjoy a weekly infusion of laughter our comics provide.
20 Powerful Brand Advocacy QuotesBrand advocacy is a crucial marketing strategy in shaping your brand's reputation and image. See what 20 industry leaders have to say about advocacy and its significance in building a movement around your brand.
- Advocacy is the next level of engagement. Engagement is conversation; advocacy is conviction. “Advocacy” will be the currency for tomorrow’s successful marketers: the mark of success will be how marketers have succeeded in converting an engaged but passive audience member into an active and deliberate advocate: someone who will proactively promote and defend the brand. – Todd Defren (click to tweet)
- Advocacy is active support and defense of an organization. It is what enables organizations to scale across the social web. – Rachel Happe (click to tweet)
- There's a singular "tipping point" for marketers and it happens the moment its customers begin to see themselves as extensions of the brand - sharing their experiences with others, cheering new products, even defending the company in times of crisis. It's called advocacy, and in the hyper-connected digital age, it's the apex of marketing achievement. – Joe Chernov (click to tweet)
- Sometimes marketers get too easily caught up striving for meaningless achievements. The gold standard should be (and always was) earning advocacy. It’s about as classic and timeless a business maxim as one can find. One can’t artificially "build" advocacy, it is something you earn by going above and beyond to delight customers. – Laura Fitton (click to tweet)
- You can always amplify reach. But nothing can replace genuine passion for a brand. By focusing on the most influential and passionate fans, you will always have that brand love driving organic word-of-mouth and, with that, business success. – Mark Curtis (click to tweet)
- BE Authentic, don’t just ACT it. TRUE authenticity will set your brand (business or personal) apart in today’s highly competitive market. Advocates are attracted to REAL, and can sniff out fake in a heartbeat. – Ted Rubin (click to tweet)
- Co-ownership is the highest form of loyalty. Those who have vested (time and money) are likely to be advocates as they have a shared fate with the brand. Brands need to look at shared value with crowd – then you may get true advocacy beyond "I like this coupon." – Jeremiah Owyang (click to tweet)
- It's one thing to say how great Nike Fuel is and another to be a part of a select community that helps Nike figure out their next product. One of the highest forms of engagement. – David Armano (click to tweet)
- Advocacy is the most visible, but not the most valuable outcome of a mutually beneficial relationship. The customers that I learn new things from, about my market, my product, or the world, are the ones that move the needle the most. – Marshall Kirkpatrick (click to tweet)
- Advocacy happens when customers or employees talk favorably about a brand or defend it without being asked to do so. They love the brand, what it stands for, and how it makes them feel. – Michael Brito (click to tweet)
- Your brand advocates are more valuable than any advertisement you could ever buy. – Dave Kerpen (click to tweet)
- Brands speak in sales language; advocates speak in the language customers can relate to and, thus, will always be more trustworthy. Any brand that doesn't embrace its advocates will fall behind the competitors that do. – C.C. Chapman (click to tweet)
- Advocacy is to marketing what evangelism is to religion. Evangelicals seek to create converts. Advocates try to create customers. Advocacy is essential to brand building at a time when people trust each other more than they trust brands. – David Deal (click to tweet)
- Advocacy is one of the most influential, yet underestimated forms of engagement available to brands today in social media. Yet, it's different than an influencer relations program. What makes someone an authority vs. advocate is different and yours to understand and activate in ways that are specific and beneficial to each group. – Brian Solis (click to tweet)
- It always has been and always will be a good idea to find the people who love your brand, reach out to them, build meaningful connections, and learn what will motivate them to influence others. – David Berkowitz (click to tweet)
- Advocacy is vouching for something because you believe in it. Advocacy is earned by cultivating relationships, reputations and trust. – Lisa Grimm (click to tweet)
- "Advocacy is everything. If you are not the advocate for the brand that you represent, what exactly are you there for? If we all assumed the role of being true brand advocates, something tells me that our work would get a whole lot better. And that advocacy work will lead to a strong brand legacy." - Mitch Joel (click to tweet)
- “Advocacy will be one of the most important success factors in digital marketing because it has the unique ability to break through the increasing automated and organic clutter that is becoming such a part of the digital media landscape.” - Rick Wion (click to tweet)
- “Advocacy can propel a brand unlike any other paid or unpaid media because it unlocks the networking power of one-to-one relationships with a key of trust.” - Rick Wion (click to tweet)
- “True influence isn't about reach numbers; it is about impacting behaviors through passion, relevance, and trust. Advocacy is the highest expression of brand love and, therefore, when nurtured, becomes influence.” – Ekaterina Walter (click to tweet)
Social Media Stardom: 7 Lessons Marketers Can Learn From Digitally Savvy CelebritiesSuccessful celebrities don’t have customers, they have fans. And that is their secret. They don’t aspire to conquer the “biggest share of the market”, they aspire to “ignite the movement and inspire their tribes”.
And that is the biggest difference between brands’ approach and artists’ approach to building communities and facilitating social dialogue. Brands are looking for new customers, whereas artists are looking to make their current fans happy. Why? Because they understand the ultimate truth: you make your current community happy, you appreciate and reward them for their advocacy, they will not only keep coming back, but they will bring new members with them to join your tribe… thus building sustainable brand love.
In his book “Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans,” Mack Collier says: “This is something that rock stars have always understood. They view their fans as marketing partners. They see their fans are special people who are helping them promote and extend their brand, so they openly embrace their fans’ existing efforts and look for ways to have a deeper connection with them.”
Highlight their stories. When Katy Perry launched her single “Firework,” she put the spotlight not on herself, but rather on her fans. She asked them to create videos telling the world who their Firework was (a person special to them, someone who inspired them). The first runner-up in her contest was a pair of best friends, one was hearing-impaired and another one was blind, who told a story about how important each of them had been to the other and how they both stood by each other in overcoming life’s challenges, including bullying. Collier points out the brilliance of this approach. “She gave her biggest fans a way to tell the whole world about the most important people their lives… In the process, she became a little bit more important to them as well.”
Give first.Amanda Palmer put on a secret show for her fans. To be eligible for a free ticket to the show all her fans had to do was to leave a comment on Get Glue about their favorite moment at her concert. The comments easily identified some of her most loyal fans through the most interesting experiences they shared at a number of her performances. Palmer does a lot of things like that for the fans who love her, consistently giving away her music for free. The marketer in you probably wonders how much money she lost by just giving away her music. But in reality she gained much more than just short-term revenue. She gained trust and respect of her fans. So when in 2012 she started a Kickstarter project to fund a tour to promote her new album and art book with the goal to raise $100,000 in 31 days, she raised $1,192,793. Amanda reached out to her fans via social media sites to start the dialogue about her new project and her fans rallied around her campaign. And, by the way, if you haven’t seen her TED speech, it is worth it!
Respect, reward, empower. After discovering a ton of fan-created YouTube videos using their music illegally, the band Blink-182, instead of pursuing illegal action against its fans (which, let’s be honest, is what most corporate brands would do), decided to reward them. The brand created aspecial music video for their about-to-be-released single “Up All Night” composed entirely of scenes from the fan-created videos. The band also thanked its fans and highlighted each fan at the end.
Connect on a personal level (online and offline). Taylor Swift is famous for her T-Parties. During her concerts her staff will scan the audience for the most excited fans, or those who may be wearing special outfits or signs they created especially for the event, and invite them to join Swift and her band for a T-Party after the show. It is an informal setting in which the artist can connect with her fans, give the fans an opportunity to connect with each other, and thank them for their support and their passion for her music.
Lady Gaga is also known for focusing on building long-term personal connections with her fans over the short-term revenue. Even though she could have played bigger venues early in her career (after all, the demand was there), she wanted to play small venues so that she could really connect with the audience.
In her book “Monster Loyalty: How Lady Gag Turns Followers into Fanatics” Jackie Huba states: “Many marketers would kill to have Lady Gaga as their ‘product’ to sell versus having to sell toilet paper or laundry detergent. Her catchy songs, crazy stage performances, and wacky outfits make her quite unique and buzz worthy. But I believe it is Lady Gaga’s ability to remain singularly focused on maintaining her fan base that has made her as successful as she is today. This is what sets her apart from the traditional way of doing business and where traditional businesses can learn the most from her success.”
Build and engage your tribe. Gaga is willing to invest now in the customer base that she wants years from now. “Most artists don’t have longevity today,” says Gaga. “I don’t wanna be one song. I wanna be the next 25 years of pop music.” She values her tribe members, who she affectionately calls “her Little Monsters”. She has built a custom social network so that she could connect with her fans on a personal level – Littlemonsters.com. She participates in the conversations often though posting/commenting/liking; she conducts contests, encouraging fans to work on projects together such as designing an outfit for her to wear or designing emoticons for her site. Fans themselves are coming up with projects and encourage other fans to participate and rally around the causes the community cares about. Gaga caters to a very specific audience and this is probably the most engaged, the most passionate community I have ever seen. “I’m not trying to gain new fans,” says Gaga. “I love the fans I already have, and [all I do] is for them.”
Make it about them. “What I do, in essence, create an atmosphere for my fans where they don’t leave loving me, they leave loving themselves,” Gaga told MTV. In her book, Huba gives numerous examples of how Gaga helps instill confidence in young people, giving them hope to dream and strength to fight for themselves. One such example is a story of the seventeen-year-old Jacque St. Pierre, a student council president of Etobicoke School of the Arts in Toronto, Canada. Jacque was promoting equality and anti-bullying, being bullied himself for years. He emailed dozens of celebrities, asking for help. The only one who replied was Lady Gaga. She sent him a video telling him how proud she was of his work to combat bullying, particularly bullying directed at gay and lesbian students. “There should be more Little Monsters like you,” she said. “It is important that we push the boundaries of love and acceptance.” When Jacque showed the video at the school assembly, it sparked a lot of positive conversations among the students who spoke up in support of diversity.
You are probably thinking that doing something like what Lady Gaga did for Jacque doesn’t scale. And you are right. It doesn’t always scale. But making a difference in the lives of others (especially those who love and support your art, no matter what it is) goes a long way towards nurturing brand love and advocacy.
On that note, the last thought I’ll leave you with is…
Be genuine and authentic, always. Give a damn! In 2010 Taylor Swift did an autograph signing in Nashville as part of the CMA Music Festival. Not only did she not charge her fans for the autographs, she spent 15 hours that day signing them to ensure that no fan who waited in line was left behind without an autograph. WOW! When was the last time one of the corporate executives spent this amount of time and energy for his/her loyal customers, no matter what that customer spent with the company, in a personal setting?
The future of marketing belongs to brands that not only understand their customers advocates, but go extra mile to build personal connections with their biggest fans and nurture authentic, long-term relationship with them.
Originally posted in Forbes.
The Central Role of Women in Brand AdvocacyYour customers are probably your greatest untapped marketing resource. Marketers spend millions of dollars on traditional advertising while neglecting their greatest existing source of word of mouth: Their advocates.
But do you really know who your true customers are? Did you know, for example, that recent research has found that women control 80 percent of U.S. spending (65 percent worldwide), and that 91 percent of women feel that advertisers don't understand them? If you are able to create a genuine and relevant brand experience for women, you will be on the right track to activating their potential as brand advocates, and as your most valuable asset in reaching out to new audiences and growing the reach of your business online.
One of the differences between the message that comes from a brand advocate versus the one from traditional advertising is a sense of genuine passion. Traditional advertising is about talking to you; advocacy centers around a relevant conversation.
Retail giant Walmart is using the power of its own customers' voices to reach out to their audience and share their experiences and thoughts. Walmart Moms is a group of real Moms who have "come together with Walmart to celebrate Moms, share our experiences and create a community." The women blog about a whole range of lifestyle topics and the fact that they are voluntary members of this community conveys a real sense of passion. This community-building reflects a down-to-earth quality to the big company, and a sense that they are in touch with their customers.
When a new candy company, for example, set out to change the conversation around Halloween candy options in 2012, they strategically sought a group of online social media influencer agencies specializing in targeting women and moms. Blissful Media Group was one of them. The goal was to promote conversation about the brand's confections free from corn syrup, artificial colors, and preservatives among the key household decision maker (and chief Halloween candy buyer) -- Mom -- and then drive them to a specific retailer.
"This was a great campaign for our network," says Barbara Jones, founder of Blissful Media Group and One2One Network, a leading women's social media influence marketing agency.
The brand smartly tapped into a range of platforms to reach Mom where she was likely to be during that two-week campaign -- reading blogs, on Twitter and on Facebook. In addition to a great incentive, they created fun, informative assets that focused on why their brand was a great choice. Their message was easy to share, and so it got shared -- many times over.
One2One Network's community alone generated over 1,000 branded social media posts on blogs, Twitter & Facebook, with close to 6 million impressions during the two-week campaign.
Learning about your customers
Women are not all the same, so don't choose a one-size-fits-all approach to motivating your customers. A recent study by House Party looked at the social habits of 3,000 women from their community of brand advocates, against a control group of 1,000 women from the general public with matching demographics. They found that their community was three times as likely to be on Twitter as the control group, showing that women who are brand advocates may well have different online habits to those who are not. The study also showed that recommendations drive purchasing, and that gimmicky Facebook discounts and offers are no match for genuine love for your brand:
While all consumers are most likely to like/follow a brand for special offers, brand advocates are two times more likely to do so because they love the brand and three times more likely for interesting or entertaining content, product news, or because their friends are fans of the brand.
So it's worth working on real engagement and enticing content over special offers.
A growing trend
Around the world, women are going online and using the internet to share their purchasing information with friends. According to Women and Web Study, a report released by Google India and published by Business Standard, of the 150 million internet users in the country, about 60 million are women. Of those women, 80 percent said they recommend their purchases to other women, and a total of 25 percent said they shared their decisions online. According to data collated by TNS Australia, (also published by Business Standard), of the women with access to internet, about 50 percent said online research influenced their decisions related to products.
These already sound like sizable figures: That's 48 million women in India recommending their purchases to other women, 15 million women sharing their decisions online, and 30 million women using online research to make purchasing decisions. If you consider that the population of India currently stands at 1.25 billion people and currently only about 10 percent of the population is online, then you realize what astonishing potential there is for future growth in female online advocacy in the country as more and more people become connected.
All around the world, women's online influence is growing, and brands need to adapt their marketing strategies if they want to take advantage of the opportunities this represents.
If 91 percent of women feel advertisers don't understand them, don't make the same mistakes when building relationships with your customers online. Get to know your community and don't assume that all women think alike. Women, particularly those who are vocal brand advocates, are social, and don't need discounts and offers to recommend products to friends: love for a brand comes from listening and understanding them, from engaging them in interesting and authentic ways.
Working with clients from various industries and of various sizes we have seen this simple truth manifest itself time and again. That is why we at BRANDERATI have built our unique platform in a way that offers creative and custom ways to engage your brand's advocates and influencers in not only relevant to them programs, but also in deeper conversations that would allow a brand to build meaningful relationships for a longer-term impact through organic / genuine brand love and advocacy (not paid endorsements and discounted promotions).
Activating advocates is vital for modern brands, and the power of advocates, particularly women advocates, is going to grow exponentially as the world becomes increasingly connected.
Originally featured in Huffington Post.
Want To Find Brand Ambassadors? Start With Your EmployeesThe 2012 Edelman Trust Barometer, a trust and credibility survey that collects data from more than 30,000 people, found that regular rank-and-file company employees have more credibility than executives. While this might seem like bad news for companies – it should be considered a fantastic opportunity. By turning employees into trusted brand ambassadors, companies bring their strongest asset and their most vocal internal advocates in direct contact with their customer base.
It is very visible when the company has passionate employees who love the brand they work for. Having adoring employee base isn’t just great for word-of-mouth marketing, but for the bottom line as well. In one of their studies Gallup showed that companies with high employee engagement levels have 3.9 times the earning per share compared to their industry peers or competitors. The bad news, though, is that only 13% of employees are engaged in their jobs – that is, emotionally involved in and committed to their work –according to Gallup's 2011-2012 study of employees in 142 countries worldwide. What’s even more distressing is that most companies do not encourage their employees to be their external ambassadors.
Employee advocacy is a critical element of brand’s success. In the digital age companies don’t have much social capital, whereas people do. Scott Kirsner, innovation columnist at The Boston Globe, says: “I listen better to people directly involved than people paid to pitch. In-person connections are where it’s at. I want to see companies in their natural habitat: when they innovate, not when they have a PR agency.”
And there is data to prove that. In their book The Most Powerful Brand on Earth, Chris Boudreauz and Susan Emerick site the IBM study that found that traffic generated by IBM internal experts in social media converted seven times more frequently than traffic generated by other IBM sources. “In social media,” state the authors, “people – not brands – are the channel.” They argue that some of the benefits of employees’ social engagement and advocacy include:
• Increasing awareness of the brand
• Improving brand position in search engine results
• Making it easier for customers to find answers to their questions online
• Improving the brand’s ability to hire the best job candidates
• Employees who are recognized as thought leaders can decrease the costs of engaging external audiences, as well as creating digital content
There are a few companies that have not only realized the potential, but took full advantage of their employee’s love and loyalty towards their brands. Zappos is one of those companies. But creating brand ambassadors from employees is about more than just throwing out a few incentives. You have to begin by looking at your organizational culture. By assessing your company's core values and cultivating a workforce that lives up to those values, you're creating a company culture that promotes strong customer service, loyalty and a sense of fun.
So how do you cultivate brand ambassadors internally? Well, it begins by identifying the core values of your company and your brand – who you are, what you do and what you stand for. Then, you can look to cultivate these values in your staff, by creating an environment where employees enjoy going to work and feel their efforts are noticed and rewarded.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, the shoe company who has created a strong culture of loyal brand advocates, explains how they decided to focus on their culture. "At Zappos, our belief is that if you get the culture right, most of the other stuff—like great customer service, or building a great long-term brand, or passionate employees and customers—will happen naturally on its own. We believe that your company's culture and your company's brand are really just two sides of the same coin. The brand may lag the culture at first, but eventually it will catch up. Your culture is your brand."
Zappos have built their culture into every aspect of their business, from the hiring stage, through to performance reviews and their attitude toward rewarding and celebrating achievements within the company. "We celebrate on a companywide, departmental, and individual-contributor basis,” says Hsieh. “We believe there is so much value in recognizing the things we do well that there are dozens of ways, big and small, that we make sure to constantly reinforce those behaviors, achievements, and actions we want repeated."
Hsieh adds that celebrations – both big and small – are a big deal at Zappos. "We truly feel that celebrating frequently the things we achieve is one of the best motivators around for getting that kind of achievement repeated. While we rack up some pretty big bills for happy hours and parties, we believe that every one of those dollars comes back to us threefold in employee engagement, which to us is really what success is all about."
But, most importantly, Zappos is great at giving their employees full freedom to talk on behalf of Zappos brand in front of their customers, their vendors, or any other audience for that matter (Zappos employees are allowed to speak at various industry events to talk about the things they are most proud of).
Coffee chain Starbucks is another company dedicated to creating brand advocates out of employees. In a recent overhaul of their UK employee program, Starbucks is providing employees with options for obtaining qualifications while they work, as well as providing funding opportunities for employees to undertake community projects.
“We’ve up weighted our commitment in the training and development of our people because as brand ambassadors our partners must truly embrace the values of our company," says Brian Waring, Starbucks VP of Marketing. “We know that the longer we keep and develop our baristas, and the more they embrace our values the better our coffee and our service. “
There are many ways you can begin to cultivate brand ambassadors within your own firm. Here are 5 just to start with:
1. Encourage social media interaction and advocacy. Zappos have a unique policy on social media – they believe that by hiring people who share their values, they can trust their employees to use social media for the good of the company. They don't restrict social media use and enable employees to distribute coupons to customers as they see fit. If your employees are online talking about how much they enjoy their work, this is a good thing.
2. Allow employees to help strengthen customer relationships. Create a sense of shared ownership in the goals of the company, and focus on using employee experience and feedback to improve products/services and customer service.
3. Create channels of communication. In working with companies small or large on both internal and external advocacy programs we have noticed that communication with brand advocates is not only vital, but profitable, as they are invested in improving the products/services and spreading the word of mouth around your brand. They want to be heard, they want to have a relationship with your company. You need an easy way for both your external advocates (your customers) and internal advocates (your employees) to offer suggestions, and they need to feel their suggestions are acknowledged and considered.
4. Invest in employee wellbeing. A little goes a long way when it comes to showing your employees that they're appreciated. Zappos celebrate with impromptu happy hours, free t-shirts and props emails, Starbucks employees receive free coffee and are given the opportunity for flexible work schedules that fit around their other commitments.
5. Make Sharing Easy. Brands should make it as easy as possible for employees to share their brand experience, by encouraging social media use, adding "share" buttons to websites, supplying employees with graphics for marketing campaigns, and allowing them to be actively involved as the "faces" of the company. Finding a platform dedicated to helping bring your internal communities together will allow you to take these relationships to the next level and make this process less manual. At BRANDERATI we work with a number of companies to create internal ambassador networks, powered by our unique platform, which would help amplify employee passion and advocacy and extend it externally.
With employees being the most trusted sources for customers, it's vital that your company's employees are encouraged to participate in your brand. With an organizational culture designed to attract and reward brand advocates, you'll soon see what an asset engaged employees can be. If you're looking to cultivate loyalty and create brand ambassadors, why not start in your own backyard?
Originally posted on Forbes.
8 Essentials Of Creating A Sustainable Advocacy ProgramThe most talked about brands are those that create a special connection with their customers and promote brand advocacy. The best advocacy programs enable customers to hold the image of a brand in their own hands. They empower company’s fans, turning a one-way marketing channel into multiple promotional conversations.
That can all sound pretty darn scary for a company used to being in control of their message. But really, are you in control right now? In our social media-rich lives, the voices of customers and clients are amplified – and can have a significant impact on your brand and your bottom line. Why not allow happy customers to speak on your behalf, and use the opportunity to create a dialogue that can improve your customer service, your product, and, ultimately, customer satisfaction?
If you are still asking “why?” consider these statistics:
- In 2011 46% of US executives said that an increase in brand advocates was one of the most important benefits of social media (Source: Jive, 2011)
- Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than 2X the sales of paid advertising (source: McKinsey Quarterly, April 2010)
- Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (Source: Deloitte)
- Brand advocates spend 2x more than average customers on favorite brands. (Source: Zuberance)
- Brand advocates are 50% more likely to influence a purchase. (source: Marketing Charts)
YET… just 20% of brands use advocate and experts programs in their marketing (source: Marketing Charts)
Consider the customer-brand relationship model below and 5 Ls of customer’s emotional journey. The goal of every brand should be to take their prospective customers from “Lack of awareness” to the top of the pyramid, to “Love”, and eventually to the highest form of advocacy and “Loyalty”; and to take current customers from “Like” to “Love” to “Loyalty”. The fastest and the most effective way to get there is not through brand’s own messages, rather through building a strong network of advocates. Instead of trying to solve how your brand will conquer the new markets and strike the fancy of new customers, let your current customers tell their stories and share the brand love.
Creating an advocacy program is one of the most impactful things a brand can do to start building meaningful relationships with their most dedicated fans, engage their most loyal customers, and empower organic word of mouth both online and offline.
Let’s look at the eight things you need to consider while building a successful and sustainable advocacy program.
1. Define your objective: Buzz or Love?
In working with clients from various industries and various sizes, the number one reason for the long-term success of the program we’ve identified was defining the clear objective from the outset. Sounds simple, right? But a lot of marketers confuse exposure with advocacy.
Short-Term Buzz: If your objective is to get a whole lot of people talking about your product launch or latest initiative, then look to ‘celebrity’ endorsements or influencer coverage that would engineer online conversations to get your message across. This will work to get the word out quickly, but will also die back as quickly once your initial push is over. There is a plethora of services that will allow you to ‘rent’ those relationships for a short period of time. These short-term endorsement program have a place in the marketing toolbox as long as marketers are clear exactly what they are getting and ROI these programs are driving.
Long-Term Love: Creating a sustainable network of advocates – customers who support your brand and will talk about it to their friends – will take more effort to build, but will guarantee long-term commitment from your fans. These program can empower super-fans or even your employees or partners to talk on your brands’ behalf as ambassadors. They are the ones who will go that extra mile to get the word out about the great work your company is doing.
We know about Google’s legendary workplace environment – the company’s overarching philosophy, is “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world” – because their employees are constantly talking about how cool it is to have free food, Broadway-theme conference rooms, and conversation areas designed to look like vintage subway cars. And these are just some of the reasons why they love working for Google. Google’s commitment to employee satisfaction reflects well on their wider image: their employees are some of its most vocal brand ambassadors.
2. Define who you invite into your VIP or advocate network
A smart brand puts a heavy emphasis on the recruiting process when building advocate networks. When we work with clients, we operate on a “garbage in, garbage out” philosophy – if you don’t invite the right people in your network, you won’t achieve the results you are looking for. You need to develop a robust recruiting and screening process to ensure that you are building a solid network of advocates and that they (as well as the communities they reach) are the right fit for your brand. That’s why you start with your current communities and their most engaged participants, as well as your CRM databases, to identify the right initial group of people to build relationships with; and expand from there as necessary.
3. Organic vs. paid
We know that the best reason to advocate for a brand is simple - you love a brand. If you don’t believe it, ask an Apple fan. You don’t even have to ask per-say – just walk into a room full of Apple brand advocate and say: “Hey, I was thinking of buying a PC.” Watch as their hair stands on end and they clench their fists as they try to muster the self-control to make their inevitable tirade as civil as possible. Then head over to a unnamed electronics store and see how much passion you can muster from the person who is literally paid to be interested in selling it to you.
When it comes to advocacy, organic love is better than paid love. Actually, if you’re not sure, it’s a safe bet that paid love is never the best option. But while that may seem obvious, it’s not easy to find.
Apple fans will wait in line around the block all night (and in the rain!) to get their hands on the latest Apple gadget – even if they don’t know what it does yet. You can’t buy that kind of love.
And if you think that this brand love is out of reach for you, think again. We are working with a lot of clients who consider their brands “boring” and if there is one thing we learned is that every single brand that has a great product and cares about its customers (no matter how small or large) has an advocate base that wants to engage with the brand and is willing to not only spread the positive word of mouth, but will do so willingly, consistently, and with no monetary reward whatsoever.
4. Sustainable engagement
When you strategize on how to engage your loyal communities, think creatively. Choose the platform that offers gamification elements and a wide variety of unique engagement tools to keep the relationship with your advocates evergreen and interesting. Allow the members of your network to engage with you, as well as with each other. Give them a variety of tools to create their own unique pieces of content that reflect who they are. Reach out and say thank you, share the content they are creating around your brand, give their content a boost and recognition by featuring it on your online properties.
Fans love a challenge! Nike+ is an involved and committed community of fans built around their love of sport and exercise. Nike keep fans engaged by presenting them with challenges, such as recording how many calories they’ve burned, miles they’ve run, or goals they’ve reached. These milestones can then be shared with their networks through the site or on social media, which helps to share news about the Nike brand and encourages friends to join too. Adding gamification to an advocacy program is a great way of increasing engagement, celebrating success and cultivating loyalty.
5. Create an open feedback loop
Companies often ask for feedback – but actually acting on it is another thing. Brands that ensure that comments, complaints and suggestions becomes part of a loop that actually feeds back into the company’s products and services make customers feel more involved and appreciated – and will drive better product development.
Creating levels of advocacy involvement can reward your top fans and create an environment of exclusivity which makes your program even more appealing. It is extremely appealing to your advocates to be the first one to get information about your new products, get access to your events, or get an exclusive peak behind the curtain.
Timex sports watches recently revealed an advocacy program which will reward members with points for every story, news item, image or post they share. Collecting points leads to rewards, which get increasingly high-value. The top reward is a trip to Hawaii for the Ironman World Championship. Even though this program includes actual monetary reward, a number of successful advocacy programs focus on other things that are just as valuable for the members of the network such as meet-ups for the top echelons of membership, as well as celebrations of their best fans.
Have you thought about the amplification strategy? Once you’ve created an amazing community of advocates and engaged with them, why not extend the goodness and the impact of the program beyond just a simple social share? Some of the most influential brands we work with amplify the messages and endorsements created by their community members by either including them into their online and offline advertising or displaying them proudly on their digital properties like websites and forums.
One example of this is DEWALT, the high-end power tool company (disclosure: DEWALT is a client). DEWALT recently launched a series of events showcasing their new line of Extreme Runtime (XR) tools, demoing them at various locations Home Depots, Lowe’s and other locations across the country. They wanted to show how cool these tools are through the eyes of their fans. What’s more, they are capturing and curating all of the conversations centered around these events into the digital hub attached to the DEWALT main site. This amplification strategy has been so successful in raising the profile of the currents events, the company decided to use this framework to market all of their events moving forward.
Why not show your gratitude – and to help spread the word of what your company is doing through your customers’ eyes – by sharing their content through your website and social media accounts and by sometimes simply giving a public shout out to say thank you? An acknowledgement like that goes a long way.
8. Measuring the impact
No matter what platform you choose to build your advocacy network on, make sure that platform offers a solid set of metrics to track the effectiveness and the impact of your campaigns. Some basic metrics to look for and questions you need answered are:
- Who shares your content? Which members of your exclusive network share the content the most and are most engaged?
- Who creates original content? Which members of your network create original content about your brand?
- Who are the most influential members? The platform should have an easy way to display members by their activity and have an ability to assign a unique brand score to each member that defines not only their influence and reach, but includes the level of advocacy (s)he displays. This score should be unique to your brand and be designed based on your marketing objectives.
- What content is being shared the most?
- What’s being said when the content is shared? Why some products/concepts are shared more than others? Sentiment is critical to track if you want to improve your marketing strategy. You want to look beyond quantities measures and understand not only what product or concept got shared or talked about the most, but identify why that was the case. Was it because of the size, color, scent, cut, etc.? These insights can help affect product development, marketing strategies, content strategies and more.
- What social networks, forums, or blogs is your content being shared on? Your platform of choice should have the ability to connect with and allow smooth sharing through most social networks: Facebook (both personal pages and professional pages), Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, etc. It should also have the ability to share content on blogs and forums, as well as have an ability to tap into the local networks in the countries such as China where the local social network are more prevalent.
- What is the program’s overall impact on purchase intent? You can absolutely track the impact the conversations and shares initiated by the members of your network have on both purchase intent and the actual purchase/sales. The key here is to engage with the platform that allows for a strong tie into your e-commerce platforms.
The most important thing to remember for a successful advocacy program is that you are in it for the long haul. You need to plan ahead to keep members engaged and interested, go an extra mile to build strong relationships with them and show them that you truly care, and never take them for granted. And when the time comes and you need support (and believe me, it’s always the matter of when, not if), they will be there to have your back, every single time. Long-term commitment from you can build long-term loyalty from your customers and fans. So stop managing campaigns and start building movements!
Originally Posted on Forbes
The Ultimate Guide To Pinterest For Every Brand: Engage And FlourishOn the surface, Pinterest metrics seem simple, but underneath they are actually a bit confusing. This follow up article to our Ultimate Guide for Pinterest should help you gain a deeper understanding of Pinterest metrics and provide tips on effectively engaging with, and growing your follower base.
Like Twitter, Pinterest allows you to post content to your feed that will appear in the newsfeed of your followers. The catch is unlike Twitter, you actually have multiple feeds that you can post to in the form of boards. This in of itself is not hard to understand, think of it as categorizing the content you post. The confusing part comes into play when you look deeper and realize each board has its own set of followers (see this blog post by a Pinterest developer on the inner workings of the follower graph). This means that any one of your followers may only be following a subset of your boards.
The key is to recognize that this happens, because it may have huge implications to how you choose to engage with your followers on Pinterest. For instance, you may have 1,000 unique followers in total but it is entirely possible to have 900 followers on one board and only 300 on your other boards. What this means is that to reach the greatest number of followers you'll need post to that one board only. So if you're about to announce a promotion or anything that is of importance on Pinterest, you should be sure to check which board will get you the greatest reach and theme your pin accordingly.
The list below highlights the key metrics you should familiarize yourself with. The full list of Pinterest metrics you should track is covered by this infographic.
Unique Followers - This is the total number of unique followers a Pinterest page has regardless of how many boards each follower is following. This number is the main follower metric reported near the top of a Pinterest page.
Page Followers - The number of users following all boards on a Pinterest page. These followers follow all boards and all boards created in the future. They are obtained when a user hits the Follow All button.
Board Followers - The number of followers for a given board. This metric is provided near the top of each board page.
Average Board Followers - The average number of followers all of the boards on a Pinterest page have.
Follower Saturation - Ratio of average board followers to page followers. The closer this number is to 100%, the less you need to strategize about which board to pin content to, and the more followers you will reach with each pin.
How can one improve follower saturation?
Within the Pinterest Environment
Because follower saturation is caused by a large portion of your brands’ followers being board followers rather than page followers, leveraging your most popular boards as promotional tools is the best free tool at your disposal. In order to leverage your boards with the highest board follower counts, you have a handful of options:
- Point your pins (URLS) on the popular boards to your boards on the less popular boards.
- Create pins on your popular board that thematically intersect that board and one of your less popular boards, and mention the board you are talking about in the comment section of those pins.
- Rearrange your Pinterest boards so that the least popular boards are at the top of your board list. Feel free to keep this order in a consistent cycle.
- Pin more often from your less popular boards.
- Invite followers of your popular board to follow your Pinterest page by mentioning a reason for the users to follow your entire page within the board title of the popular board/s.
- Repin related popular pins from Pinterest’s categorical feed to your less popular boards.
Outside of Pinterest
Most follow buttons that appear organically on Pinterest are for specific boards. This means that most of your page followers will likely be driven from off-site links/properties. Getting more page followers will improve your saturation levels. This involves reaching your fans in the typical cross-promotional ways: through your existing channels of Twitter, Facebook, email, or your blog. It can also be useful to integrate the Pinterest follow button on your website to drive users to your Pinterest page.
Promotions and Campaigns
Paid campaigns, such as contests or paid media, can also help increase your chances of converting more page followers. Companies such as Tailwind, ShareRoot, Piqora, and Reachli, can help your brand with Pinterest analytics, contests, and advertising. ShareRoot, a company specializing in paid Pinterest promotions, has put together a several free tools that you may utilize to help with your cross-promotional efforts. Their ToolSet includes a free Pinterest tab for Facebook, a cross-promotional pin creator, a board cover creator, a follower analysis tool, and a pin velocity analysis tool. Each of these tools can help your brand increase its follower saturation percentage, and convert its board followers into page followers.
Pinterest also recently announced that it will be testing out promoted pins. Even though promoted pins are not yet available for purchase, you can keep a close eye on Pinterest’s blog for any updates in this area.
Originally posted in Fast Company
blog brand content engage flourish followers infographic pinterest pinterest metrics ultimate guide for pinterest
Effective Facebook Engagement: Beer Industry AnalysisSuccess and the impact of your Facebook community can be defined in several ways. But commonly used metrics such as fan size and engagement percentage don’t tell the whole story. To truly measure the effectiveness of your Facebook communities you need to understand post effectiveness and competitive ranking.
It’s become fairly standard to track metrics such as the size of the community, post frequency, and engagement. Indeed, these are all important parts of the bigger picture and need to be considered. At BRANDERATI, though, we take the analysis one step further and look deeper into the data. We measure the overall page and post effectiveness (more on this below) and compare brands’ performance against their key competitors. You see, to determine the overall success of a Facebook page it is crucial to look at measures that will offer a weighted balance of size and engagement effectiveness, as well as look at how the community performs against other similar communities in the digital ecosystem.
In order to demonstrate these concepts, let’s look at the 20 of the world’s leading beer brands and their Facebook communities. Using BRANDERATI proprietary social analytics tools, we analyzed these 20 communities over a 90 day period.
The brands analyzed include (in no particular order): Bud Light, Budweiser, Coors Light, Michelob Ultra, Bud Light Platinum, Miller Lite, Stella Artois, Shocktop, Heineken, Sam Adams, Blue Moon, Bud Light Lime, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Yuengling, Natural Light, Becks, Miller High Life, Corona, Keystone Light, Hoegaarden.
If you just look at the fan size, it comes as no surprise that socially-savvy and popular brands like Heineken, Budweiser, and Bud Light have the most Facebook fans of all of the beer brands. These communities exceed 10 million fans, and on average post 1.3 - 2.3 times per day.
The ranking change dramatically when you compare fan size to engagement. Bud Light moves from distant third in fan size to a dominant first place in engagement. Conversely, Heineken seems to be significantly underperforming in engagement as it ranks 9th in engagement despite having the most fans. Interestingly, Michelob Ultra appears in the top 10 – ranks 4th in engagement – despite not even making the top 10 in fan size.
But what’s more interesting than the total engagement (defined as actions taken around the content: likes, comments, shares) is the EdgeRank Action (ERA) measure. We define ERA as the measurement of Facebook actions (likes, comments and shares) weighted to reflect the Facebook algorithm that governs what is displayed, and how high, on the NewsFeed (likes being worth 1 point, comments – 4 points, shares - 10 points).
ERA = Likes + (Comments x 4) + (Shares x 10)
Your goal as a brand is to make it to the NewsFeed as often as possible, so that you stay top of mind of your fans. The higher the rank of the page, the higher chance you have of more people seeing your posts. And that is what drives awareness, engagement, and organic fan growth. But every action is not weighted the same by the Facebook NewsFeed algorithm, hence the ERA becomes critically important to track and measure on an ongoing basis. Think about ERA measure as a quality of your community engagement.
ERA is important because if you aren't optimizing your content for engagement, Facebook will decrease the reach of that content. You may have 1M fans, but failing to measure what types of content they want to engage with means fewer and fewer of them will see what your posting. Decreased impressions means decreased engagement, and the descending circle continues.
The chart below shows how BudLight is clearly a leader in not only generic engagement, but also in ERA.
And this brings us to the heart of the matter - Post Effectiveness.
Post Effectiveness=Total ERA / #of Posts / #of Fans
Post Effectiveness measures a page's total engagement on a per-fan, per-post basis. Doesn't matter how large your community is. Doesn't matter how often you post. What matters is the quality of your content. Are you listening to the community and giving them more of what they want, or just blasting out broad messages?
How effectively does your brand engage its audience per post, per fan? Win at this game, and you will have a serious advantage over your competitors. Combined with an aggressive posting schedule, any small brand can make bigger players with much bigger budgets simply look ineffective from an engagement stand point.
Case in point:
Tellingly, Heineken ranks near the bottom in terms of post effectiveness. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some of the smaller brands scored highest in terms of post effectiveness, including Yuengling and Natural Light. Although these brands have relatively small communities with fewer than 250,000 fans and on average post less than once a day, these posts were extremely popular and earned high levels of engagement per fan per post.
Overall Facebook Community Effectiveness
Without a combination of scale and post effectiveness, however, neither of these two brands cracked the top 10 in overall engagement. In fact, as the size of your community grows, it becomes that much more difficult to engage every fan with every post.
So who stands out with the great combination of scale and post effectiveness? In our analysis, we see Bud Light Platinum and Michelob Ultra as standout performers, followed by Miller Light, Shocktop and Sam Adams.
A Closer Look: Bud Light Platinum
Bud Light Platinum has a fairly large community of 1 million fans, and they post an average of 1.2 times per day. For a community of that size, they have extremely high engagement rates. We took a deeper look into what types of content Bud Light Platinum is posting to learn why their content is so successful in engaging fans.
The brand Facebook page has an extremely consistent visual and social theme. The content of the page revolves almost exclusively around trendy high end nightlife. Most of the posts feature top nightlife destinations including Las Vegas, bottle service nightclubs, and music festivals. Some of these nightlife images incorporate the product as well. Bud Light Platinum utilizes the hashtags #PlatinumNight and #MakeItPlatinum to clearly display their focus on nightlife. In addition, they are running a scavenger hunt contest sponsored by Justin Timberlake that ties into their nightlife theme.
Visually, all of the Facebook posts are designed very similarly. Whether the designed image is a product image or location-focused, they all have the same color scheme of black, white, and royal blue. This distinct coloring ties all of the images together and creates a consistent tone for the page that reinforces the brand recognition.
Unlike many of the other beer brands that post a wide variety of content, Bud Light Platinum has been successful by creating a consistent theme and content strategy that their fans clearly identify with. When fans think Bud Light Platinum, they immediately think a fantastic night out.
What can you do with this type of information if you're trying to compete in this space?
For one, by tracking top performers such as Bud Light Platinum, you can reverse engineer best practices to find brand-appropriate ways to leverage these tactics for your brand.
Furthermore, using social analytics tools and meaningful data you can create a solid content strategy. For example, through tagging your posts, you can identify the types of content that work (and do more of that!), and the types of content that don’t (and do less of that!).
Finally, the overall competitive context gives you the ability to set meaningful goals (metrics) to achieve in terms of post effectiveness, post frequency and overall engagement with your community.
These are just some of the strategies you can use to help your community become the most engaged and recognized community in your industry.
For a more detailed analysis please email us at email@example.com
Cartoon of the WeekHere at BRANDERATI, we appreciate the humor in all things marketing. Thus we hope you'll also enjoy a weekly infusion of laughter our comics provide.
Influencer Marketing: What’s Working and What’s Not
It is crucial for brands to build authentic and long-term relationships with influencers, as well as engage them in unique ways.
Working with a number of brands in different industries, we’ve seen firsthand the approaches that work and those that don’t. Below are just some lessons learned.
What's Not Working
- “Pay-to-Play” as a substitute for “Love-to-Play”: Many influencer marketing players focus on incentivizing industry influencers to engage with a brand. Although this could give a brand high reach and exposure in the short-term, it is not authentic. Using incentives to buy advocacy from influencers has not proven to be a sustainable strategy.
- Marketing To Influencers and Ambassadors: Treating influencers like just another marketing segment won’t ignite them. Frankly, it will bother them, and weaken the relationship between the influencer and the brand. You need to work with them as opposed to marketing to them.
- Complex Challenges: No matter how much they love a brand, asking Influencers to jump through hoops will dramatically lowers the scale of success. Influencers don’t want to be involved in time-consuming, over-complicated projects.
- Blanketed Outreach: Influencers get hundreds upon hundreds of requests every day. Influencers will be more inclined to respond to requests made from people that they have relationships with. Try not to send blanketed outreach; make your communications personal.
What Is Working
- Focusing on Influential Fans: You can always amplify reach. You can't manufacture passion for a brand. By identifying the most influential fans of your brand, you will always have brand love driving the success of your influencer programs. These influencers already love your brand, and making them feel special is enough incentive for them to participate in a program.
- Marketing With Influencer and Ambassadors: Don't just tell influencer what to do; ask them. Give them a voice. Give them the ability to tell your story through their point of view. Influencers appreciate it when brands value their opinion. . It is crucial to make influencers feel unique and special.
- Making It Easy: Take all the hard work out and make it easy for Influencers to work with your brand. Give them small things to do that can make a large impact. Keep influencer engagement opportunities as simple yet effective as possible.
- Maintaining Ongoing Influencer Relationships: Influencers want to work with people that they know and trust. Developing personal relationships with influencers is crucial in the success of an influencer marketing program. Make your influencers feel special and appreciated.
25 Powerful Influencer Marketing QuotesIn the digital era influencer marketing is taking a prominent spot in the marketers' toolkit. But running an effective influencer program is both an art and a science. See what 25 industry leaders have to say about marketing with and through influencers.
25 Powerful Influencer Marketing Quotes from BRANDERATI
- “You are what you share.” –Charles Leadbeater (click to tweet)
- “Influence is earned!” –Unknown (click to tweet)
- “Influence marketing may not flex the same immediacy as paid media, but with a little planning ahead, you can leverage influence in an integrated marketing campaign to increase awareness and engagement around your next product launch.” –Nyerr Parham (click to tweet)
- “In many respects, influencers are key to making sense of the billions of pieces of content and words that are published throughout social media services. They are the ones we follow, trust, and ultimately help decide what will succeed or fail.” -Mark Evans (click to tweet)
- “Influence marketing works by speaking to an individual, group of individuals or a type of individual that has sway in a niche or market, instead of trying to directly appeal to the whole.” –Chris Pilbeam (click to tweet)
- “To work with influencers requires engagement and creativity from you. Once you find your influencers, you will need a plan to engage them.” –Evy Wilkins (click to tweet)
- “Influencers care about their content and their readers, or they wouldn’t be influential. If brands want to succeed with influencers, they have to first develop a relationship that is valuable for both sides.” –Jennifer Beaupre (click to tweet)
- “The best reward for the influencers is one that isn’t necessarily money or tangible perks — often, being seen as influential by their peers will be enough motivation.” - Tonia Ries (click to tweet)
- “Growing an online presence is important but let’s get real about influence. Presence doesn’t equal influence. Presence can be measure in social media followings. Influence can’t.” –Martha Giffen (click to tweet)
- “When it comes to measuring influence, it is important to remember that the primary objective of an influencer program is not just to influence the influencer. The real objective is to influence the influencer’s network, as this is the point at which the impact of influencer engagement is both felt and measured.” – Tim Williams (click to tweet)
- “The more you can offer influencers the chance to be helpful and to have a platform for sharing their latest thoughts, the more high-quality content you will be able to create with them.” – Niall Kennedy (click to tweet)
- “In a world in which we have little external control over the brand narrative, communications professionals must influence, not wrangle, the way the narrative spreads through social and other digital channels.” –Erin Estep (click to tweet)
- “Traffic and followers are only meaningful to the extent that the infleuncer is reaching your brand’s target audience.” –Holly Hamann (click to tweet)
- “Don’t find people to lift you up; You life them up first.” –Brains on Fire (click to tweet)
- Using influencers to solely drive awareness is as cost-effective as a Paula Deen fitness camp. The key to effective use of influencers is their ability to cause behavior.” – Jay Baer (click to tweet)
- “If you can engage the influencer’s passions, and work with them to craft a compelling logical appeal, then you can leverage the credibility of the influencer to actually sway hearts and minds.” –Tom Webster (click to tweet)
- “Influencer marketing at its core is about developing real relationship to ultimately champion your influencers to market with you.” –Amanda Maksymiw (click to tweet)
- “Sometimes marketers confuse influencer marketing with manipulation, bribing or worse. Influence is something you deserve by being relevant for others. The support of an influencer needs to be deserved by marketers as well. Indeed, by being relevant.” –J-P De Clerck (click to tweet)
- “No actual influence occurs until the influencees produce a measurable action. If real influence depends so much on the influencees, why are most vendors still so focused on the influencers?” –Michael Wu (click to tweet)
- The web isn’t really made up of algorithms. It’s made of people. In all their frustrating, imperfect, and complicated glory.” – Sonia Simone (click to tweet)
- “We need to move beyond public personas and into micro influencers; and we need to stop confusing popularity and amplification for influence.” –Danny Brown (click to tweet)
- “The future is not about marketing to influencers – it’s about marketing with them. Treating influencers as an extension of your company – rather than a distribution channel – will result in a more impactful experience for influencers and consumers alike.” –Emily Garvey (click to tweet)
- “Real influencers do not sway our decisions because of how high they score on a digital scale. They do because they make their stories relevant to us.” – Cendrine Marrouat (click to tweet)
- “The role of traditional branding is to influence behavior. The difference with movements is - they inspire behavior.” - Justine Foo (click to tweet)
- Technology may change the way we communicate, but the relationship building truths will always stay the same. Stay true to them, in life and in marketing.” –Ekaterina Walter (click to tweet)
Cartoon of the WeekHere at BRANDERATI, we appreciate the humor in all things marketing. Thus we hope you'll also enjoy a weekly infusion of laughter our comics provide.
Stat of the Week: DIRECTV Uses Social Analytics to Fuel Larger Digital Engagement StrategyDIRECTV content strategy includes a large variety of elements such as TV and celebrity news, movie and sports updates, as well as a complete rundown of offers and features DIRECTV provides. It is critical for a brand with such a diverse content strategy to identify the most popular and relevant types of content to help drive the highest level of social engagement possible. Using proprietary analytics tools, BRANDERATI has identified significant peaks in engagement around the brand’s content over the last few months. One of the things we found was that DIRECTV’s Facebook engagement increased by 148% when they initiated social conversations about the TV series Duck Dynasty! Armed with this information, DIRECTV decided to create a larger three-tiered engagement program related to Duck Dynasty.
The first step was to work with DIRECTV’s social media team to develop weekly content schedules and increase the number of Duck Dynasty updates and features. BRANDERATI worked with DIRECTV to design and post countdown images to the season premiere, which were wildly popular among their fans. The ability to give fans more of what they want, and watching engagement grow is the immediate benefit of robust social analytics as well as content creation and optimization partnership.
Next, DIRECTV used this information to boost their ongoing Facebook fan acquisition campaigns. They targeted Duck Dynasty fans in their outreach. This campaign allowed DIRECTV to acquire more fans with an increased propensity to engage with the kinds of content they were already posting, at a lower cost.
In addition to these components, DIRECTV partnered with A&E to launch a Facebook application game tied to the show. This game, called Duck Dynasty Quack Match, engages fans and gives them an opportunity to enter a sweepstakes and win daily prizes.
Social analytics helped DIRECTV stimulate their community of adoring fans by providing a clearer view of what their fans were passionate about. Utilizing results from social analytics to drive marketing initiatives outside of a social posting strategy is extremely important, and can lead to success for a brand outside of their digital ecosystem. We recommend that brands utilize social analytics to learn more about their fan base, and incorporate these findings both strategically and tactically.
Stat of the Week: Free People Achieved a 40% Increase in Comments in 30 Days!Free People has over 1 million Facebook fans. In the past few weeks, Free People, in partnership with BRANDERATI, has been very creative in testing various images, messaging strategies and content ideas to further engage their large audience. Over the past month, this hard work has been most evident in both quantity and quality of comments Free People’s posts are producing on their Facebook page. Free People achieved a 40% increase in comments in the last 30 days! How did they do it?
It is crucial for brands to have deep knowledge about their fans, do the real-time analysis of the types of content they engage with the most, and adapt their content and engagement strategies based on those insights. Social media analytics plays a large role in this optimization process. It is important to learn fans’ preferences, and cater to them. What do they like seeing? What sparks the most engagement? It is essential to customize content specifically for your brand’s advocates to reach high levels of engagement.
The large spike in engagement that Free People experienced was due to their utilization of this real-time optimization process. Using BRANDERATI’s social analytics capabilities and proprietary software, the Free People social team determined that their fans love seeing styled product images. They also like being asked for their opinion on new trends and products. This type of interaction makes community members feel special and that their opinion is valued.
Variety is also key. Free People have presented multiple looks and asked fans to pick their favorites. They have shown the same product styled multiple ways or in a variety of colors, as well as inquired as to what the community thought about the different options. They have also driven conversation around blog content and simple “yes or no” questions about whether or not a product is a “must-have.”
The BRANDERATI and Free People teams have used these learnings as inspiration when creating content moving forward. Using images of multiple items in one designed post, paired with text that encourages fans to comment with their thoughts, has proven to be successful. Free People has also used single images of new items and ask fans a question about the look shown, which has also sparked a large amount of engagement. This content caused the large jump in comments that Free People has experienced in the past 4 weeks and, most importantly, engaged their fans in new ways.
The Ultimate Guide To Pinterest Metrics For Every Brand [Infographic]Pinterest has stricken our visual fancy like no other network before it. Pinterest’s meteoric rise in only a few years shows the site is more than just a pretty community for people interested in fashion and lifestyle: marketers are all over Pinterest’s lead-generation aspects as online hits on products from the site have proved a marketing sensation. According to a study by Shareaholic, the site drives more referral traffic than Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn combined.
But marketers still struggle to define how to define the success of their Pinterest content strategy. Based on my experience with Pinterest analytics and with the support of Pinterest-savvy folks at ShareRoot, I have defined the list of metrics that marketers should pay attention to when it comes to this visual social network.
First, let’s start with the definitions.
- Pin. Pinterest helps people organize the things they love through the use of pins. A pin can consist of an image or video of a gift, recipe, destination, or quote. In order to populate your brand’s Pinterest profile, your team will need to collect and pin individual pins to boards on your brand’s profile.
- Board. Your brand’s Pinterest profile is made up of boards, with pins on each board. A board is an opportunity for your brand to showcase various themes/interests/passions of your brand. You can create as many boards as you like, but you want to make sure that each board has a purpose and strategy behind it. Pinterest users can follow individual boards, or entire Pinterest profiles.
- Pinning. In order to turn a piece of content into a pin on Pinterest, a Pinterest user needs to take the first act of pinning the item. In order to pin a piece of content your brand owns, you can click on “upload a pin” to pin an image or video that lives offline, and “add from a website” to pin an image from online.
- Followers. A follower is any Pinterest user who has chosen to “follow” your brand. Once a user has become your follower, each pin/repin made by your brand appears in that user’s Pinterest newsfeed.
- Following. If you follow a brand or a Pinterest user, you are their follower. Once your brand becomes a follower of a brand on Pinterest or a Pinterest user, anytime that user or brand makes a pin or a repin, it will show up in your newsfeed.
- Repin. Once a pin exists on Pinterest, users are free to repin that pin. Each time one of your brand’s pins gets repined, that pin will show up in the newsfeeds of all of the Pinterest users following the user who reppined your pin.
- Newsfeed. There are three newsfeeds on Pinterest: your brand’s newsfeed, another Pinterest user’s newsfeed, and the Pinterest category newsfeed. The newsfeeds are the most active locations for content discovery on Pinterest. The most engaged pins across Pinterest within a given category show up in the categorical newsfeeds.
- Like. Similar to Facebook, Pinterest users are able to like pins. The difference between liking a pin and repinning it is that with liking, the user is not prompted to pin that pin to their profile and it does not show up in the newsfeed of their followers.
- Comment. Below the content of each pin is an open text box where users can make “comments”. Although comments are not used too often by Pinterest users, there are some interesting ways to weave comments into a Pinterest contest execution. That being said, similar to a “like”, a comment does not push that pin into the commenter’s follower’s newsfeeds.
Pinterest metrics marketers should consider tracking:
- Average Repins per Pin. Based on your brand’s previous engagement history, average repins per pin, defines the average repins your brand has received each time it has made a pin or a repin.
- Average Likes per Pin. Based on your brand’s previous engagement history, average likes per pin defines the average likes your brand has received each time it has made a pin or a repin.
- Average Comments per Pin. Based on your brand’s previous engagement history, average comments per pin defines the average comments your brand has received each time it has made a pin or a repin.
- Average 2nd Degree Followers. Average 2nd degree followers shows your brand how connected your follower base is. Specifically the average number of followers each of your brand’s followers has.
- Follower Engagement. Follower engagement percentage shows your brand what percentage of your follower base you can expect to engage with each of your pins/repins.
- Short Term Follower Engagement. A current/recent snaphshot of follower engagement. Your short term follower engagement will fluctuate rapidly in comparison to follower engagement, and is best used to measure the effectiveness of a recent modification to your brand’s Pinterest strategy.
- Reach. Reach shows your brand the number of unique newsfeed impressions you can expect each time you make a pin or repin.
- Velocity. Current average number of pins/repins your brand makes per week. This metric is a great tool for testing out the ideal amount of pins/repins your brand should be pinning per week. If you modify the velocity and keep it steady at a modified rate, you can use the “short term follower engagement” metric to determine whether the change in velocity produced better engagement results for your brand.
- Impressions. The number of times pins from your brand’s website were seen each day on Pinterest.
- Reach (Pinterest’s metric- specific to the relationship between your website and Pinterest). The number of people on Pinterest who saw a pin from your brand’s website each day on Pinterest.
- Clicks. The number of clicks pins from your brand’s website received each day.
- Most Recent. This pin feed shows you the most recent pins that originated from your brand’s website.
- Most Repinned. This pin feed shows you the most repined pins that originated from your brand’s website.
- Most Clicked. This pin feed shows you the most clicked on pins that originated from your brand’s website.
- Top Fans and Influencers. A list of the most influential and most connected Pinterest users following your brand.
- Top Pins. Pins originating from your brand’s website with the most engagement.
- Total Interactions. Total Pinterest interactions with all of the pins originating from content on your brand’s website.
There are various tools available in the market that allow you to track some or all of these metrics. ShareRoot, Curalate, and PinReach are among them. But as a brand marketer it’s up to you to identify what service makes sense to you and what metrics are more important based on your marketing objectives. In this article I wanted to provide a complete guide to help you make that decision. Happy pinning!
Originally posted in Fast Company
brand content strategy marketers meteoric rise network pinterest pinterest analytics pinterest metrics shareroot visual social network
Influencers vs. Advocates: Knowing Your Brand GoalThere is an ongoing debate over which is the best group of people to use to spread the message of your brand: influencers or advocates. Let’s have a look at both groups to see why you would work with them and the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Influencers are people who have a wide reach and many followers. They may be celebrities or they may be influential figures in their industries: experts, bloggers, columnists or authors. They may be several of these things at once. The main reason that a company would use influencers is because of their reach: that they can convey a message to many people in a short period of time, with the hope that such a ‘celebrity’ endorsement will encourage more people to buy a product or use a service. Influencers are usually paid for their promotion and are often used as a short-term face of a brand.
Advocates don’t need to be paid to talk about your brand: they tell all their friends how your product revolutionized their life, made it easier, or how they just love going into your store because of a great environment or fantastic service. If advocates follow their favorite brands online, they will share their posts and comment on photos because they want to be a part of the conversation. Advocates stay loyal to the brands they love and will sign up to information about an upcoming product because they are excited about its release. They might not have the reach of the influencers, but their network unmistakably knows about their passion for their favorite brands and they have high influence within their own communities.
Knowing Your Goal
If your brand wants to convey the message to the new audiences, which group do they choose to engage: influencers or advocates? This is the question we consistently get from our clients. Seemingly an easy one to answer, there are a number of factors we recommend them to consider. Before committing to a certain marketing strategy, think hard about the objectives you are trying to achieve. Here are just some of the considerations:
- Short-term versus long-term. Influencers have access to a large number of followers. If your goal is high volume of short-term buzz, you might choose an influencer to reach the maximum number of people in the shortest time. But if your goal is to build positive word of mouth that lasts for years, then you might want to build your own dedicated communities/networks of advocates who will continue to talk about your brand long after everyone has forgotten about your latest marketing campaign.
- Genuine passion. People tend to believe the word of someone who is not being paid for their recommendation over the ones who are. There have been a number of instances of celebrities and influencers endorsing brands that they themselves are not likely to use in their own lives, creating what I call a “relevancy disconnect”; or of brands changing spokespeople so often that the message gets confused. Organic, sustainable brand love is much stronger than paid love (click to tweet). Advocates are trusted by their immediate circles of friends/family/followers because of their genuine positive experiences with a brand or product, and that can be a very persuasive tool.
- Celebrity gloss. If you are looking for a glossy image for your brand you might turn towards a glamorous celebrity over more every-day users. Many brands choose people who are famous for their lifestyle to lend a touch of glamour to their marketing messages.
- Expert testimonial. An endorsement from someone who is an expert in their field can be highly persuasive for selling a product. Think of all those book jackets or movie posters that feature rave reviews from famous authors or respected critics. That level of expertise can be hard to find among your more average users, though not impossible.
- Product knowledge. Influencers don’t necessarily have deep knowledge of the brand or product they are recommending (although this depends on the influencer), whereas an advocate is more likely to have a real understanding and can answer questions from interested potential customers with more precision. If you want to build up a conversation around your brand, using influencers may uncover a superficial relationship with a product, whereas advocates can offer genuine insight and help.
- Reciprocation. Influencers expect payment from the relationship, whereas brand advocates will talk about products without expecting to be remunerated. Investing in an influencer takes money, whereas investment in your brand advocates takes time and effort to build relationships. It is simple to put money towards an influencer campaign, but building sustainable advocacy can take far longer.
Advocate Influencers: the Way Forward
At the end of the day, it doesn’t have to be a choice between influencers and advocates. For the savvy brand, developing networks of advocate influencers is the way forward to real, genuine, long-term marketing success. At BRANDERATI we coined the term advocate influencers, which represents the golden middle – an intersection of people with wide reach who are already committed to your products and already endorse them in their daily lives. Example of this would be Walmart Moms blogger team.
Another option would be finding celebrities who are fans of your product before you sign an agreement with them, as Weight Watchers did when they approached former ‘Saturday Night Live’ cast member Ana Gasteyer, who was tweeting about using their points system to lose weight. But not every brand will have access to a celebrity like that; and most of the time it’ll still require investment to engage that celebrity to be your spokesperson longer-term.
It is important to remember that even consumers who don’t have wide reach, when brought together, can build up a real long-term momentum and ignite true movement around your brand. After all, scientists proved that it only takes 10% of the population holding an unshakable belief to influence the rest of the population (click to tweet). To inspire advocate influencers, you need to build in customer engagement into every level of your interaction with your users, and encourage feedback, user-generated content, as well as provide easy ways and tools for them to discuss your brand online. This requires a solid platform (to help you build sustainable networks with your advocates / influencers, engage them, and measure the impact); a long-term commitment; and a sprinkle of imagination for sustainable engagement. That, fueled by true respect and reciprocal love towards your customers, will help elevate your brand to new heights. And that is your brand’s goal, isn’t it?
Originally Posted on ClickZ
advocacy advocates brand advocacy brand goal celebrity influence influencer optimization passion product knowledge reciprocation
The Age of Advocacy and Influence: 26 Stats Marketers Should KnowThe World is changing. From the Age of Mass Media to the Age of Social Business, we are now entering the Age of Advocacy. We wanted to share a few powerful statistics to give you an idea on how important advocacy marketing really is.
- Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) see customer advocacy and loyalty as their top priority in the digital era. (click to tweet)
- In 2011 46% of US executives said that an increase in brand advocates was one of the most important benefits of social media (click to tweet)
- Marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than 2X the sales of paid advertising (click to tweet)
- Customers referred by other customers have a 37% higher retention rate. (click to tweet)
- 25% of people choose to engage with brands because they want to join the community of brand fans (click to tweet)
- Reasons that consumers worldwide write about brands online: (click to tweet)
-Offer Advice 64%
-Praise a brand 61%
-Criticize a brand 52%
-Share content brands produce 51%
- 73% of millennials feel it is their responsibility to help friends and family make smart purchase decisions. (click to tweet)
- It takes 10% of population holding an unshakable belief to convince the rest of the population to adopt the same belief. (click to tweet)
- Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them (click to tweet)
- Advocates tell twice as many people about their purchases than non-Advocates. (click to tweet)
- 90% of advocates write something positive about their purchasing experience (click to tweet)
- Brand advocates recommend because of good experiences (50%) and a desire to help others (37%), vs. an incentive to receive freebies (1%). (click to tweet)
- Brand advocates spend 2x more than average customers on favorite brands. (click to tweet)
- Offers shared by trusted advocates convert at 4-10x higher rate than offers sent by brands. (click to tweet)
- A word-of-mouth recommendation is the primary factor behind 20-50% of all purchasing decisions (click to tweet)
- A recommendation from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than is a low-impact recommendation (click to tweet)
- A 12% increase in Brand Advocacy, on average, generates a 2x increase in revenue growth rate plus boosts market share (click to tweet)
- When it comes to community size, 54% of consumers agree that the smaller the community the greater the influence. (click to tweet)
- Brand advocates (28%) are 4X as likely as non-advocates (7%) to share information about products, brands, sales or stores online. (click to tweet)
- Brand advocates are 75% more likely to share product information. (click to tweet)
- Brand advocates are 50% more likely to influence a purchase. (click to tweet)
- … just 20% of brands use advocate and experts programs in their marketing (click to tweet)
BUT WAIT. What about influencer marketing?
- Approximately 25% of all U.S. television commercials contain some kind of celebrity endorsement (click to tweet)
- 74% of global marketers reported they will use Influence Marketing as part of their marketing strategy in the next 12 months. (click to tweet)
- Klout, Kred, and Peerindex are popular ways to measure social influence. However, 94% of global marketers don’t fully trust the metrics of scoring platforms. (click to tweet)
- 55% of global marketers found social scoring platforms to be ineffective at identifying influencers (click to tweet)
- 68% of global marketers see Influence Marketing as a lead generation and customer acquisition tactic (click to tweet)
The world is changing…
Do you know who your advocates and influencers are?
Do you know how to engage, direct and reward them?
Do you know the brand and sales impact those relationships are driving for you?
It’s time to embrace the Age of Advocacy!
advocate influencers BRANDERATI engage influencer marketing reach
Quality Not Quantity: How Advocates Blow Traditional Advertising Out Of The WaterBrand advocates are the new window display in your marketing tool box. In an age where advertising is becoming ever more fragmented, having the right advocates on board is essential for reaching your customers, as well as getting your message out to new audiences.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether it is better to invest in influencers, who have a large following but are not necessarily committed to your brand, or in advocates, who are so passionate about your product that they will rave about it to their friends for no incentive at all… but do not necessarily have the necessary wide reach the marketers are so keen on getting.
But why not the golden middle, the intersection of both? At BRANDERATI we coined a term advocate influencers. Advocate influencers are people who are passionate about your brand but have the ability to reach a large audience as well. And if this group of people doesn’t exist for your brand, why not create and enable it?
Think of the world of sports advertising: the top sportspeople are going to use the top brands when they compete, so asking a number one ranking sports star to endorse your product seems a natural fit. When you see a sports star as the face of Nike, you believe in their advocacy because chances are that they would use the sports brand out of choice: they are a natural convert.
The problem with using celebrity endorsements is that it is still a short-term solution. Sports stars rise and fall, and the audience still knows there is money changing hands and so there is less trust in the message than if an advocate was endorsing a product from passion alone.
The key to a long-term marketing strategy that engages fans and converts them into brand spokespeople is putting in the groundwork to build a really solid foundation. You need to be thoughtful in the way you find your advocate influencers, the way you recruit them, the way you engage them and how you build relationship with them. Not only that, I would go so far as to say that you can actually help your best advocates become influencers. Very few brands are willing to commit the time and resources to make this a reality, but those that do are rewarded by real commitment from their customers and increased sales impact. We’ve seen it happen with the number of our clients, and not once.
But what if you don’t have many influencers among your known advocates? Not a problem. To truly drive impact the goal is to create a wide reach, but whereas one influencer might have a large following, remember that several advocates may have a similar sized audience between them – and not only that, but their networks will be full of people like them i.e. the perfect target demographic for your brand. So it is worth the time and effort building your advocate network, even if your advocates only have a small following each. Together, they will build a wide audience of exactly the sort of potential customers you would like to see engage with your brand (let alone buy your product).
Case in point? A clothing company Jac Vanek.
The brand worked hard to engage 4,000 Brand Ambassadors, customers who worked on their behalf to “exponentially increase the amount of positive recommendations, reviews and mentions about their brand and its products and services.” By putting in the hard work to identify loyal customers who were willing to talk about the brand, Jac Vanek estimated a six times return on their investment. Although these were ordinary customers, their combined reach was 14 million impressions because of the cumulative effect of their networks.
Relevancy and context are key for advocacy and influencer programs. (click to tweet) You might approach a ‘celebrity’ blogger with a huge following for an endorsement on their site and achieve a high number of hits on your website, but the conversion rate will not be as high as for a blogger who is already on board with your message: chances are that his/her readership, as well as his/her community’s willingness to listen and engage with the message, will be a better fit for your product. Imagine if a watch company sent their latest sports watch to a blogger with a large following who wrote about entertainment. They might mention your product, but only a small percentage of their readership would be interested in sports watches. Now imagine if you had a fan on your Facebook page who blogged about running. That fan might only have a small following but (s)he is a natural customer for your watch, and so is his/her readers. It is worth the time and effort getting to know your fans, investing in them, and engaging with their communities. They will be naturally more enthusiastic and their passion is more likely to bring new audiences, and with it, new customers.
Advocacy is about quality, not quantity. (click to tweet) Passion spreads quickly through networks and will stand out above apathetic messages. (click to tweet) So it’s time for us to stop collecting fan/followers/subscribers and start activating them through meaningful and long-term relationships!
Originally published on FastCompany
advertising advocate influencers advocates audience brand brand advocates BRANDERATI golden middle influencers passion quality traditional advertising water
Why BRANDERATI is the Platform of ChoiceOne of the questions our prospective customers ask us is: “What makes BRANDERATI a platform of choice?” To answer this question, we thought we would let our customers speak for us. Below is the selected list of notable benefits our current clients bring up as advantages that drive the success of their marketing and sales efforts.
Emphasis on Quality Recruiting
BRANDERATI puts a heavy emphasis on the recruiting process when building advocate influencer networks. We firmly believe in the “garbage in, garbage out” philosophy – if you don’t invite the right people into your network, you won’t achieve the results you are looking for. The BRANDERATI platform has a robust screening process to ensure that a solid group of advocate influencers has access to our clients’ networks AND that they (as well as the communities they reach) are the right fit. That’s why we start with your current communities and their most engaged participants, as well as your CRM databases, to identify the right initial group of people to build relationships with; and expand from there as necessary.
You Own Your Communities
Some of the vendors out there offer influencer “rental” services, where brands can use pre-determined group of influencers to push out content to. This solution works if you are looking to run a short-term campaign to increase buzz around your brand for a specific period of time; and once the campaign is over, you have no sustainable way to reach this group of people again or build meaningful relationships with them longer-term. At BRANDERATI, our clients own their advocate influencer networks. The BRANDERATI platform builds detailed social profiles of the network’s members, and clients have the ability to contact them and activate them in a variety of ways through multiple programs. These sustainable relationships with advocate influencers become a new valuable “brand asset” for the company, extending the existing investment that they have made in their social media communities much father. What's more, your communities are fully branded to reflect that ownership.
“Professional influencers have limited time and attention span to dedicate to advocacy and digital content creation. The BRANDERATI platform gives us the ability to continually deliver highly engaging experiences that keep our stylists happily participating in our campaigns month after month.” ~ MARK ISOM, Managing Director, The Digital Stylist Network
Innovative Engagement Tools
The BRANDERATI platform offers a wide variety of unique engagement tools to keep the relationship with your advocate influencers evergreen and interesting. We go beyond the traditional asset distribution tools and focus on custom content curation and creation modules. We allow influencers to create their own exclusive content using brand assets in a way that reflects their voice and spotlights their passion points, and share their unique creations with their followers/subscribers. In addition, we are constantly developing new, inventive ways for network members to engage with the brand and even with each other, if necessary. We consistently build new features based on clients’ ideas. Our current engagement tools can be used across many industries, such as fashion, retail, entertainment, technology, B2B, as well as within internal employee ambassador programs.
“I love being a member of the PEOPLE STYLEWATCH HUNTER network. As a fashion blogger and a stylist, having access to such exclusive information, photos, or product samples allows me to easily share fresh and relevant content with my readers and clients. It’s such a fabulous concept and it always leaves me intrigued as to what’s coming next!” ~ KRYSTIN LEE, People Stylewatch Influencer
Gamification and Rewards
Not only is it important to engage advocate influencers in your programs, but it is also crucial to ensure that this engagement is sustainable. BRANDERATI recognizes that participants are willing to invest heavily into the relationships with their favorite brands, which is why the platform offers different ways to reward and recognizes their dedication. The platform has gamification elements built in throughout the recruitment and engagement stages. It offers the ability to reward active participants with points, custom-designed badges, and one-on-one recognition from the brand as well as from their fellow advocate influencers. There are multiple effective ways for recognizing the members of your network without monetary compensation; making them a star in the dedicated brand communities is just one of them.
The BRANDERATI platform offers easy methods to amplify the content being shared from any of our clients’ networks and on all social platforms into a curated content hub. This content hub can live on a company website, microsite, blog, or social media outlet. The value of a client utilizing a content hub is to amplify the reach of the great content being shared by advocate influencers from the BRANDERATI platform. Implementing content hubs is a win-win for both brands and advocate influencers, as it expands the reach of the program beyond the network, and provides additional exposure for the network members as well.
"DEWALT's Lunch Tour microsite was such an impactful social amplification tool for our brand. The BRANDERATI team created a destination for us to not only promote the events, but to celebrate the organic love our fans have for the DEWALT brand." ~ RUSSELL WALTERS, Social Media Manager, Stanley Black & Decker
Self- Management vs. Turnkey Solutions
The BRANDERATI platform can be managed by our clients’ in-house resources or by the BRANDERATI account teams. Our DIY solution uses drag and drop technologies so clients’ can manage the entire program very easily. Even though the platform can be intuitively managed, very few organizations have the resources to dedicate to managing these programs effectively. Our client services team delivers more than just a platform; they deliver strategic and tactical advantages based on best practices acquired across 80+ successfully-run programs. (For more details on the turnkey services we provide, check out this blog post The Team Behind the Magic)
“As integrated marketing partner, BRANDERATI delivers more than just an effective influencer marketing platform, their turnkey services help drive success of each campaign from concept through custom reporting” ~ VICTORIA BIANCULLI MORALES, Sr. Integrated Marketing Manager, People StyleWatch
Dashboard and Analytics
BRANDERATI’s robust dashboard makes it easy to accomplish a variety of tasks with a click of a button. Clients can easily facilitate one-to-one relationships with their advocate influencers at scale, monitor activity happening on their network in real-time, and use customized segmentation to turn on/off different modules to different members. In addition, the dashboard shows who shares, what’s being shared, how assets are shared, how far the content travels, who is sharing the most, who has the most influence, as well as the network’s overall impact on purchase intent. These insights give our clients unique and valuable information about their top customers, and can be used to efficiently optimize campaigns in real-time.
The most unique and valuable piece of the BRANDERATI dashboard is the ability to report on a combination of quantitative and qualitative data. This is all done through the platforms’ tagging inftastructure. Not only we can learn what product or concept got shared or talked about the most, we can identify why that was true. We can analyze why the product was liked down to every feature (size, color, scent, cut, etc.). These insights go way beyond traditional metrics. It can affect product development, marketing and content strategies, and more.
We also go beyond engagement and reach and track the impact on the bottom line, tiying back to e-commerce.
These are just some of the differentiating features of our platform. We equip our clients with everything they need to have a successful advocacy, influencer, or internal ambassador engagement program. We would love to know more about your needs and challenges and how we can help address them. Please drop us a note!
advocate advocate/influencer networks BRANDERATI branderati platform communities content hubs gamification influencers innovative engagement tools platform platform of choice recruiting rewards self-management vs turnkey solutions
The Anatomy of an Advocate. And Why Marketers Should Care.Advocates. Advocacy. Advocacy Strategy. These are all terms you have probably heard of a lot recently, especially in the world of the social web. But what makes an advocate? Why are they so important and why has the term suddenly gotten popular?
Who are the Advocates?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an Advocate is one that pleads the cause of another, or one that defends or maintains a cause or proposal. In the world of branding, Advocates are people who are already brand loyalists – maybe satisfied customers or people who are fanatical about brand products – who spread the brand’s message willingly, either by recommending the brand/product to their friends, or sharing brand’s marketing messages on social media. Apple fans are a perfect example of this, as they often cannot wait for the latest product, constantly discussing the brand with others, and engaging in a passionate argument about why you have to buy Mac vs. PC.
Because advocates are brand loyalists, they have a set of characteristics that you can find in almost every one. The majority of advocates engage in word-of-mouth marketing both on and offline, spreading the word about their beloved brand as far and as wide as they can without literally shouting from a podium. This means talking, writing, and bragging about the product. The key to an advocate’s love is that it is all organic: they do not love it because they are incentivized with payment or popularity. (tweet this) They genuinely love the product so much that they want to help others realize its benefits.
Advocates are made, not born. (tweet this) This is a fact that is often misunderstood by marketers. Sure, some people have grew up with brands that are familiar and nostalgic. However, most customers became advocates through personal experience with a brand… and most stay long-time advocates because of the actual relationship with that brand. Advocates are cultivated through consistent and meaningful engagement, only when brands truly care about their customers and their communities.
Advocacy and Brands
Advocacy touches every single part of our lives and every single industry.
The entertainment industry is a perfect example of where advocates colonize. Take the influencer Lady Gaga as an example. She has an incredible amount of loyal followers that will go with her to the end and back. She’s unique in a very creative way, so why would people advocate for her? The reason is twofold: she is not trying to be someone she isn’t and she truly cares about her community of “Little Monsters”. She has grown and cultivated a niche community and she embraces it. People are constantly looking for things they can relate to or fall in love with. Lady Gaga provides fans with the opportunity for not only a promised unique show, but also strong bonding around a sense of “I am different and that is ok.” Advocates welcome the “unique you” message that Gaga inspires, and a bond of loyalty ensues.
Followers of Twilight are another good example. Twilight fans are known for the never ending argument of “Edward vs. Jacob.” When a fan chooses to join “Edward camp” over “Jacob camp” and stands firm in his/her decision, these fans have turned into Advocates. They are very vocal in defending their choice. A good predictor of whether you have an advocate on your hands or not is whether the members of your community are willing to go up to battle and defend your product/brand. (tweet this)
In the world of brands, a perfect example is Nike. There are some fans who simply will not wear any other brand of shoes because of their loyalty to Nike. They are active in communities created by a brand, such as Nike Running, and they invite their friends to experience the brand together with them. Their love for the shoes is not from payment, inducements, or bribes. Their love is organic. They engage with the brand. They share the brand’s message. They defend the brand in an argument. These are the signs of an ideal customer. These are the signs of a true advocate.
Why Should Marketers Care?
Advocates are essential in spreading the love towards your brand. They do not require incentive (outside of you treating them with respect and having a product or service that they love). They incentivize others to try your brand just by their word-of-mouth passion. They are loyal, dedicated individuals.
Consider these statistics:
- It takes 10% of population holding an unshakable belief to convince the rest of the population to adopt the same belief. (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
- Brand advocates are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them. (BzzAgent)
- Offers shared by trusted advocates convert at 4-10x higher rate than offers sent by brands. (Zuberance)
- A 12% increase in Brand Advocacy, on average, generates a 2x increase in revenue growth rate, plus boosts market share. (Source: “The Ultimate Question, Driving Good Profits and True Growth,” Fred Reichheld, HBS Press
We are entering the Age of Advocacy. Advocates are critical to the success of your business. The good news: you can cultivate and activate your own communities of advocates. BRANDERATI can help.
advocacy advocate advocate strategy Age of advocacy BRANDERATI brands business communities of advocates Lady Gaga Mac marketers passion PC social web Twilight word-of-mouth
Quote of the Week
We at BRANDERATI have been inspired by those who have a thing or two to say about influence and advocacy. Because of that, we would like to share some of their quotes with you, so that you too can be inspired and maybe get an inside look to the world of influencers and advocates.
Stat of the Week: The NBA Out-Engages the NFL, MLB and NHL COMBINED By 53%!Now that basketball season is over, we wanted to look back at the Facebook engagement performance of the NBA during the post-season, and compare that to the same period in 2012. To create a fair comparison, we needed to start by looking at fan growth and post frequency. The NBA saw a 26% increases in fan size, year-over-year, and they added 52% more posts to their Facebook Page than during the 2012 playoffs. After considering these factors, we projected that total EdgeRank Actions (ERA) would have increased by 91% over the previous season, even if the NBA didn’t make any additional strategic changes. Not too bad. When we crunched this year’s numbers, though, we were astounded! NBA’s ERA increased by 396% (from 5.4 million to 26.9 million)! Amazingly enough, in the final month of the post-season, the NBA drove more Likes, Comments and Shares than the NFL, MLB and NHL did in final months of their post-seasons…combined!
In developing and executing any social engagement strategy, it is important to know who your audience is and what they like. It is crucial to study how your fans behave and react to different types of content, and apply those findings to future strategic plans. For the NBA, we leveraged best practices learned from previous engagement reports from BRANDERATI’s proprietary software to develop our posting strategy. Throughout the past 6 months, we noticed that designed images spark the most engagement among fans on NBA’s Facebook page. We used this information to execute our post-season engagement strategy, which involved a variety of bold, visual, and sharable content.
Once you identify what type of content engages fans, you must brainstorm creative ways to entice your audience, engage them, and make them want to come back to your page. It is also crucial to think out of the box, especially with large clients like the NBA. Fans like seeing things that they haven’t seen before. One series of posts that worked particularly well for the NBA was the “We’re Moving On” posting campaign. At the completion of each best-of-seven series, we designed a post with an image of the winning team that said “WE’RE MOVING ON TO THE [SEMI-FINALS, FINALS, etc.]”. Another strong performer was developed thanks to our analysis of Facebook albums, specifically the large reach and potential engagement we’ve seen them produce across the social platform. We designed a series of albums filled with predictions for the results of each series. For example, at the start of the Heat vs. Spurs best-of-seven Finals, the album we posted included eight images, once for each potential result (Heat win in seven games, Spurs win in seven games, Heat in six, Spurs in six, etc). Fans were encouraged to share the image that included their prediction for which team would win, and in how many games. Both of these campaigns created a consistent feel to the page and a repeatable success for the NBA.
In addition to these campaigns, we wanted to create a few posts that would really stand out and create buzz. We partnered with the NBA to design and post championship rings and banners for the Heat and the Spurs, countdown posts leading up to the crucial Finals Game 7 and even posts celebrating Father’s Day and the NBA’s Social Media Awards…and fans loved it! These posts even got picked up by Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, NESN. This visual strategy and creative thinking lead to and increase of 6X more Shares than last year’s posts.
We are very proud of the results of this year’s post-season, and are already applying our findings to the NBA Draft and the NBA’s off-season!
NBA stat of the week
7 Things to Consider In Shaping Your Advocacy Program StrategyThe very first step in persuading customers to act as ambassadors for your brand is to treat them with respect and make sure not only your product but your customer service is utterly customer-centered. Your whole brand should revolve around your customers. (click to tweet)
Once you are satisfied that your priorities are right, then you can build on this and work towards an advocacy program. Like your brand, your advocacy program should be similarly customer-focused. Think about what your communication can do for them and develop a two-way conversation. This is the basis of true engagement.
1. The feedback loop
It’s great to listen to your customers, whether they are giving positive or negative feedback, but it’s another thing to put that feedback into action. The best brands not only listen to their customers, but make the changes they feel are necessary, and then credit this back to the customers.
On Dell’s community website Ideas Storm section, customers are encouraged to submit ideas to improve products or introduce new features. They are then publicly celebrated as the brains behind the changes.
Crediting customers and saying “thank you” are essential in letting your customers know you really do value them. Customers who feel part of the brand experience are more likely to act as ambassadors for that brand.
2. Selecting your customers
The first thing your customer advocacy program must do is identify the group of customers you want to select to act as brand advocates. There are several ways you may wish to do this. You could use listening tools to identify the most vocal customers online. Or you could send out a questionnaire to determine which customers think most highly of your company. But what we suggest to our clients is to not boil the ocean, but to either look inside your current communities (within your forums or on your social media sites/groups), or start with your CRM database and build out social profiles for your most loyal customers, or a combination of both.
3. Know your goal
The important thing is that you don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach: you need to be sure of the goal of your advocacy program. Try to make the goal as specific as possible, and make sure you can measure its effectiveness. How does your advocacy program fit in with your wider marketing goals? Think about whether you are trying to achieve awareness of a new product line, create long-term brand loyalty, build a list for marketing material, or cultivate a group for feedback on new ideas. We also like to bring an important element of best-known practices into these discussions with our clients, making sure we provide solid lessons based on a variety of other campaigns we ran in the past.
4. What is your social platform of choice?
Is your customer advocacy drive going to be online or offline? If you are looking to drive social conversations and recommendations online through extensive sharing, you will need to build the strategies and tactics specific to the platforms of your choice into your wider program and content strategy, making it easier for your members to engage in and filter out specific conversations based on their interests. A tactical example of this would be including specific hashtags in all your relevant media.
5. Tracking the engagement
Whatever tool or platform you decide to use to host your program on – there are several in the market that would allow you to organize and manage your program easily and effectively (disclosure: Branderati is one of them) – make sure it offers a full dashboard to track the conversations, shared brand content, newly created content by your advocates, and the impact it has on not only on online buzz, but on sales (or at a minimum on purchase intent).
Have you thought about the timescales of your customer advocacy program? As well as deciding specific goals, you should think about whether you will be working towards long-term engagement or if your program will have an end date. If your goals are long-term it is worth setting out how you plan to keep up momentum over a period of several years to ensure your program doesn’t run out of steam. Think about a long-term content creation plan, timetabling events, gamification elements to keep the members interested and engaged, and a feedback system to ensure you know how your customers’ needs evolve over time.
7. VIP treatment
Finally, treat your advocates like VIPs. Offer them something that not every customer has access to. It can include incentives, such as paid trips to product launches and free samples of products ahead of the full launch, but doesn’t have to be monetary. What your advocates are looking for the most is behind-the-scenes information and public recognition. Publicly recognizing your band advocates is a great way of thanking them for all their hard work on your behalf.
Customer advocacy programs are best when they are created for long-term engagement. Fans will invest in your brand if they feel that your brand is investing in them. (click to tweet) Instead of building short-term marketing campaigns, invite your fans in, connect with their passion points, celebrate them, and ignite the movement.
Originally ran in Social Media Today
advocacy program advocacy program strategy ambassadors brand customer-centered engagement feedback loop invest respect social platform timescales tracking the engagement VIP treatment
Gary Vaynerchuk on Advocacy and Influencer MarketingThis week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia. Gary is an extremely successful and insightful entrepreneur, author, and social media guru. Gary and I discussed everything from advocacy programs and influencer marketing to the concept of paying it forward and the importance of investing in employees, vendors, or customers. My favorite quotes from the discussion:
• “Real advocacy is actually not doing things for the sake of advocacy. When you do it, not for the purpose of the amplification, but the purpose of really just having that relationship, that’s when you win.” (click to tweet)
• “I firmly believe that 99.4 percent of people are inherently good. And that if you pay it forward and do the right thing, there is dramatically more real ROI on the back end of that, because most people aren’t willing to give first.” (click to tweet)
advocacy Advocacy Marketing Ekaterina Walter Gary Vaynerchuk Influencer Marketing ROI
The Team Behind The MagicOur prospective clients often ask us about our turn-key services. They love our platform. But because most of our clients’ resources are limited, there is always a question about the full range of support: from strategy definition, to content creation and management, to real-time customer support.
We are here to tell you: Our team is an extension of yours!
It is 6pm on the West Coast and an influencer’s sample didn’t arrive on time due to a move. What to do? Easy! Tweet @askarbs (Amy Skarbnik) at BRANDERATI. Whatever concerns, whatever requests, whatever worries you have, our dedicated account executives are responding to influencers’ and clients’ needs 24/7. Even though we are extremely proud of the leading platform we created to identify, recruit, and engage members of your VIP network, BRANDERATI offers so much more than a technical wonder for managing and delivering content to brand advocates. (click to tweet)
Last week, a client came to us and asked how they could take their traditional influencer gifting program to the next level. Their plan was to gift 20 pairs of designer shoes to influencers, but they really wanted to put a fresh twist on this concept. Our client services team got together to brainstorm and leverage best practices learned through their experiences with all of our clients. They decided that simply gifting the shoes to the top 20 influencers in the program wasn’t enough. So they invited the influencers who received the shoes to have as much fun with them as possible, to take the pictures of themselves wearing the shoes and show off their creative side. The ladies loved the idea (so did our client!) and they uploaded picture to the network’s mood board (one of the modules within the network), personalized the mood boards to give them their own flavor and character, and shared them with their friends and followers. Everyone had a ton of fun with this simple, but creative idea! What’s more, it got everyone talking about the shoes.
BRANDERATI’s Account Services Teams go above and beyond their traditional job functions because they are passionate about what they do. Our weekly strategy calls with our clients uncover new approaches to reaching influencers and equipping them with sharable content. Our Client Services team is constantly developing new and innovative ideas on how to take advocate influencer programs to the next level and creative ways to sustainably engage members of the networks in the new and exciting ways. They are enthusiastic about handling all facets of our clients’ advocate influencer programs, since few of our clients have the internal resources to manage all aspects of it. This turnkey program management became an extremely valuable part of our services suite.
Besides strategic and creative services, additional support includes (but not limited to):
- Writing and distribution of email alerts to participants
- QA testing of all modules before they are uploaded
- Handling all advocate influencers’ questions
- Uploading of content/campaigns/challenges
- Reporting on campaigns’ success
Our Client Services team makes implementing and managing an advocate/influencer program simple and effortless! WE are an extension of YOUR team and we love it! We hope you will as well.
BRANDERATI content creation customer support management our team resources strategy support turn-key services
Build A Movement, Not A Campaign, And You'll Ignite Passion In Your Brand's True BelieversThere’s an ongoing debate as to whether it is better to use influencers or advocates in your brand’s marketing campaigns. Before we join the discussion, we had better be clear what the differences are between these two groups of people, and the benefits of using each one.
Both advocacy and influence are about using a third party to reach new audiences, but using entirely different techniques. Influencers are people who have a large following. They may be a celebrity, but might also be a blogger, CEO of a company, columnist, or internet personality. So long as many people listen to what they have to say, brands pay them (or give them goods) to convey their message to their followers. Advocates, on the other hand, are people who are already brand converts – maybe satisfied customers or people who will always buy the latest product – who spread the brand’s message willingly, maybe by recommending them to their friends or sharing their marketing on social media. Brands can encourage advocates, or potential advocates, by reaching out to them to help share their message.
When it comes to reach, generally an influencer will have a much greater reach than a brand advocate. Coca Cola’s latest marketing campaign features Taylor Swift writing her latest hit whilst drinking Diet Coke. Taylor Swift has a large, loyal following, particularly amongst young women, which is exactly the target audience Coca Cola are hoping to attract. When choosing an influencer or celebrity for a campaign, it is critical to line up influencer’s following with company’s target audience; a large following means nothing if they are not the right fit for your brand. But even with the large awareness numbers, companies are not always seeing the spike in sales when they engage influencers or celebrities.
A brand advocate is unlikely to have the reach of someone you would choose as an influencer, but, according to McKinsey, a recommendation from a trusted friend conveying a relevant message is up to 50 times more likely to trigger a purchase than is a low-impact recommendation. McKinsey also found that marketing-induced consumer-to-consumer word of mouth generates more than 2X the sales of paid advertising. Furthermore, it is worth considering what the collective reach might be of all your brand advocates, and the fact that their audience, no matter how small, might not only be exactly the demographic you are trying to connect with, but also is more likely to be influenced by the passion of your brand advocate towards your brand/products and their deep knowledge of such. Your army of advocates is your volunteer marketing army. (click to tweet)
It’s hard to measure commitment, but it’s likely that an existing fan of your brand, or a satisfied customer, has a more genuine commitment to your brand than someone you would chose as an influencer. The challenge for marketers is to find an influencer who is already loyal to your brand: actor Stephen Fry has been a long-term fan of Apple computers (he claims to have bought the third Macintosh computer ever sold in the UK)… and he has a Twitter following of 5.5 million.
Generally, though, an influencer will need incentives to work as a brand ambassador, whether it is through advance copies of products or through payment. Think of the number of not-yet-released products that get sent to prominent bloggers every day: there might not always be a contract involved, but leveraging their following comes at a price.
Brand advocates, on the other hand, will likely talk about your product to their friends and followers despite there being no direct reward in it for them: they are passionate about their brand experience and want to share it with others.
It is far easier to employ an influencer than it is to activate your existing customers, as long as you are willing to trade something in return for their endorsement. But what is less clear is the return on investment for this spend: employing someone with a wide reach can backfire if their followers disagree with their involvement with the brand. There is a risk of alienating the very audience you are trying to engage.
Your brand almost certainly has a large number of loyal fans already, so your role in activating them is essentially bridge-building: it is worth investing the energy in creating the links between your satisfied, motivated customers and your brand. That’s the great thing about potential brand advocates: they already exist, so it’s more a question of how to connect with them and give them the opportunity to extend their passion to their own audience. The investment with fans of your brand will be one of time and effort rather than money, and this is what puts off many marketers. It may be easier in the short-term to sign a contract with an influencer than activate a large number of customers to speak for your brand.
Short-term versus long-term
The strategies and tactics you will use will depend on your whether your goal is short-term or long-term, and whether you want to reach the largest number of people in the shortest time, or invest in a strategy that may only pay back your efforts over a longer period of time, but with much higher impact. An influencer will be able to convey your message to their large following very quickly, whereas it may take far longer to reach the same number of people using your brand advocates. But if you want an investment that will continue to pay off over a long time, your brand advocates are likely to remain loyal to your brand long after the contract with an influencer has expired: think of all those loyal Apple fans lining up outside stores for the latest release of a product, before even knowing what the features will be. Apple as a brand may appeal to a specific kind of customer, but their love for the brand will last a long time. You can’t buy that kind of loyalty.
Knowing the value of advocates versus influencers is key to making the right decisions when it comes to your marketing strategy. But most importantly, you need to be honest with yourself about the true purpose behind your marketing efforts. “Do I invest my limited budget into a one-time burst and get a lot of short-term buzz? Or do I build a bespoke network of advocates and engage, direct, and activate them long-term, which may require commitment beyond a 3-month campaign?” We see our customers struggle with this question every day. You need to be clear from the outset what your goals are before deciding whether to harness the passion of your existing fans or to turn to the broader – but arguably less committed – reach of an influencer. Both can be a hugely important part of a marketing campaign, but only if their capacities are used effectively.
My advice? Build movements, not campaigns! (click to tweet) Don’t just stimulate buzz, ignite passions through engaging the true believers who “get” who you are and are fanatical about your brand. Identify them, listen to them, engage them. It is worth the effort.
Originally posted on Fast Company
Quote of the Week
We at BRANDERATI have been inspired by those who have a thing or two to say about influence and advocacy. Because of that, we would like to share some of their quotes with you, so that you too can be inspired and maybe get an inside look to the world of influencers and advocates.
Stat of the Week: Canadian Retailer Out-Engages International Competitor by 130%
This quarter was a milestone for one of our clients. Home Outfitters, a Canadian retail chain that sells kitchen, bed and bath products, reached an unprecedented level in terms of Facebook engagement. Home Outfitters’ Edge Rank Actions (ERA) has increased 516% in the past 90 days!
A large contributor to this spike in engagement was the increase in shares of Home Outfitter’s Facebook posts. Shares increased by 1,072%, Comments by 387%, and Likes by 209%. This exceptional increase in ERA has allowed Home Outfitters to surpass one of its biggest competitors, Crate & Barrel, in terms of total ERA! Crate & Barrel has 8 times as many fans as Home Outfitters, so this was a huge accomplishment.
Home Outfitters out-engaged all of their competitors in ERA per fan and Post Effectiveness as well. Even though the brand has a fairly small Facebook community, their fans are extremely passionate about the brand and enjoy interacting with Home Outfitter’s Facebook content.
So, you might be wondering what caused engagement to increase so drastically. Working with the Home Outfitters Team, we created a very specific engagement strategy that we applied most of their Facebook posts. Each post had an interesting visual, as well as a call to action. For example, posts said “SHARE this with your friends” or “choose your favorite by COMMENTING below!” We found that fans responded well to call-to-action phrase, because it told them exactly how to engage with the post. We also used a thematic posting strategy to continuously engage consumers. Every week, we posted several A/B posts, which showed fans two products and asked them which one they liked better. We also posted “Caption This” posts, which showed funny, engaging pictures, and asked fans to write a caption for it. In addition, we helped launch and promote several contests hosted on Facebook. All of these posts became conversations, rather than statements.
Quote of the WeekWe at BRANDERATI have been inspired by those who have a thing or two to say about influence and advocacy. Because of that, we would like to share some of their quotes with you, so that you too can be inspired and maybe get an inside look to the world of influencers and advocates.
Going Pro: Best Practices For B2B Advocacy ProgramsWe often think of brand advocacy in terms of activating mainstream consumers who love your brand. But how do things change when the relationships you are targeting are in a more professional context? Do the same rules and best practices apply? “It’s easy to find advocates for a B2C brand such as Coke, Burberry, or Nike,” we exclaim. “But how do we approach building an advocate network of say, building contractors or nutritionists, different than growing a community of passionate fashionistas?”
We are glad you asked.
Personal vs. Professional Influence
One of the more obvious differences here is that personal social cred doesn't necessarily correlate to professional influence. There are many people who are extremely influential in their professional networks, but are completely inactive in their personal social accounts. This means that not only do we need to adjust how we recruit and screen these professionals, but often, we also need to modify the way we facilitate the sharing of content. For instance, the BRANDERATI platform allows advocates to not only share content on their personal profile, but also on any professional Facebook page that these users manage. For many B2B programs, this can be a small but hugely important detail.
Value of Time and Relevant Content
Unlike engaging passionate consumers who volunteer their free time, asking professionals to participate in an advocacy program can have a high opportunity cost. For them, time literally is money. So, it becomes vital to make it as easy as possible to participate, with as little stress as possible. Our platform delivers an elegant user interface; it is easy to understand, navigate, and engage with. We use detailed segmentation to deliver just the right content to the right professionals and we use appropriate gamification elements to recognize key advocates and even add an element of fun. In addition, we are having great success using the contact tools built into the BRANDERATI dashboard to facilitate one-on-one communication with advocates, thanking them for their participation.
Leverage Their Expertise
More often than not, professional advocates have as much value and expertise to add to the conversation as does the brand; if not more. This is why we build programs that are focused on providing professionals a platform to share their knowledge and best-known practices as a value-added part of the process. In this way, we are not just marketing through these advocates, but we are marketing with them as we enable them to add their expertise to branded content.
Build Their Brand
In many fields, the value of a personal brand in a professional context can offer a number of advantages - from peer recognition, to new job offers, to connections with new customers. By promoting advocate content on your site, social hub, newsletters, etc, brands can extend the reach of this content while building the advocate's own personal brand. This type of syndication of program content can create a great win-win value proposition.
Professionals Are People Too
It's important to remember that although professional advocacy programs do have some unique facets, at the end of the day, we are all human beings. Intuitive, engaging experiences will still be better than complex, boring ones. (click to tweet) Passion for a brand and/or subject matter will always trump paid participation. And people will still actively engage with brands they love for comparatively little reward. This explains why DeWalt’s construction contractors spend their valuable time participating in social programs in order to earn a branded hard hat sticker (disclosure: DeWalt is a client).
Who says B2B marketing can't be fun?
B2B Advocacy Programs B2B Marketing B2C brand brand advocacy DeWalt
Who Should Brands Focus On? Advocates or Influencers?There has been a large amount of hype about the importance of Influencers recently. With books being published and companies rising with platforms that assist brands find their Influencers, it is a spreading phenomenon. But why are they so popular? And why would brands want to work with them? Is it because they have a huge following? Or is it because they can influence and direct conversations within specific communities?
In the digital world, an Influencer is someone who has a large following, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, an RSS feed, or in the word-of-mouth world. They have an enormous amount of social capital. They might be celebrities, authors, or just an average Joe who built their social capital high enough to have a following. Influencers are treasured for their amount of reach, especially among social media sites. This is why brands often go after Influencers; they know that they are able to hit the largest amount of possible consumers by targeting only one “Influencer.”
Influencer marketing strategies and tactics definitely have their place in a marketer’s arsenal. And sure, it seems like reaching a large audience delivers the best bang for your buck. After all, you will raise awareness and create buzz. But isn’t that what television and other paid media are for? Influencers are connected to brands primarily through incentives. Most of the time there is no deep relationship built between them other than revenue. So when a competing brand comes along and offers the influencer a better deal, the original brand might be left in the dust.
Advocates are very different from Influencers. They have a much smaller following and may not even blog at all. Individually, they may have small reach in comparison to an Influencer. Collectively, however, it is arguable that Advocates have a larger and deeper impact than Influencers do. After all, offers shared by trusted Advocates convert at a 4-10 times higher rate than offers sent by brands, and they are 70% more likely to be seen as a good source of information by people around them. Advocates have deeper and more meaningful relationships with their followers than Influencers do. Influencers might seldom care about the brand they are endorsing, but an Advocate will talk about the brand they are passionate for until the topic is driven into the ground. They give praise both on and offline, and continue to do so even if the brand ignores them. Their reach is meaningful because the brand means something to them.
Brands have an incredible opportunity to build relationships with their Advocates because they are not hard to find, and they require no incentive. What is better than free, enthusiastic advertising for a brand? Not much. What would happen if a brand paid more attention to its Advocates? Not only will the audience grow, but a deep emotional connection will brew between a brand and its Advocates. When a brand focuses energies on its passionate, loyal clients who without a doubt love the brand, the reach grows exponentially. Just like in a relationship where there is a strong emotional connection, the bond is hard to break and is worth the investment.
Ultimately, Influencers are good for awareness, but what brands really want is a sale and loyal customers. Buzz only goes so far. At some point, a brand will need to dig deeper and focus on true, sustainable advocacy. That is what drives impact beyond buzz. There is great opportunity with Influencers in that if you engage with them in a sustainable, long-term way, you may be able to turn them into Advocate Influencers – those advocates that happen to have high reach and true influence within their niche communities. A brand should focus on these Advocate Influencers as they have the reach needed, but are also have deeper intrinsic desire to work with you, beyond payment or reward.
Developing meaningful relationships with these Advocate Influencers is much more valuable for a brand long-term. It opens up the opportunity for brands to create lifelong customers they never dreamed of who also serve as a volunteer marketing army for the company. That is why at BRANDERATI we focus on the intersection of both influencer marketing and advocacy marketing as the most impactful approach to igniting brand love.
advocate influencers advocates brand brand focus engagement influencers reach social capital
NBA Creates Excitement Among Its Community
You may know us as a software company. But did you know we provide analytics, creative and content services that power both influencer and broad social media strategies?
Word is out that the NBA has released mock photos of what their rings and banners would look like for both the Spurs and Heat in the event that they should capture the Larry O’Brien trophy (Bleacher Report, Fox Sports, NESN). The NBA Finals are just getting underway, with the San Antonio Spurs taking Game 1 with a score of 92-88 against the defending champion Miami Heat on Thursday evening. (The finals will definitely be a nail-biter if this first contest was any indication.) We are still a ways from knowing who will win the championship, but we now know what their swag will look like.
The ring designs are currently simplistic, and are only what they might look like. Any time a banner hangs from a team’s rafters or a design is announced that could possibly make it into the NBA record books, it’s a wonderful achievement regardless of the aesthetic look.
Throughout the playoffs, new content has been developed and created that congratulated teams for advancing in the playoffs, asked fans to share a piece of content that includes their prediction for a particular series of games, and broadcasted tune-in posts featuring compelling stats. These NBA Finals posts were designed by BRANDERATI and are a part of that series.
BRANDERATI is proud to have been involved in designing these posts. We are very excited to see that they have been picked up as an exciting way for a sports league to engage fans around their championship. We are proud that our client was recognized for the amazing work we are doing together.
banners Bleacher Report BRANDERATI Championship design Fox Sports Heat Larry O'Brient trophy Mock photos NBA playoffs Ring designs San Antonio Spurs
A Focus on the Advocate InfluencersI often get asked: “what makes BRANDERATI different from others in the influencer marketing space?”
While our technology, analytics, best practices and turnkey services all offer distinct advantages, today I’d like to dig deeper on not just WHAT we do or HOW we do it, but WHO we focus on.
Whereas so many others look to connect brands with external influencers, we target the influencers brands already have within their existing communities. BRANDERATI is the first influencer marketing platform to focus exclusively on helping brands create and leverage powerful VIP networks of fans known as Advocate Influencers.
We define a brand’s “Advocate Influencers” as those that are:
1) Passionate About the Brand
2) Actively Willing To Participate
3) Aligned with the Brand’s Image, and…
4) Socially Influential
We strongly believe in the importance of these criteria and work hard to screen potential candidates to match this profile. In order to understand why, let’s take a closer look at each specific criteria of an Advocate Influencer.
Passionate about The Brand: Digital publicists spend so much time and resources working to convince third-party influencers to tell their story because editors and bloggers are most often brand-neutral. This is not apparent and not so with Advocate Influencers. They already love your brand. A lot. They simply need to be recognized and treated in a special way.
Actively Willing To Participate: While it’s easy to identify, those that love a particular brand don’t have the time or inclination to go out of their way to actively participate in brand promotions. This is why we look for Advocate Influencers to opt-in to our programs. We know these fans want to play an active role.
Aligned with the Brand’s Image: Every brand has a range of passionate fans. And some are more “on-brand” than others. When we are building a bespoke network of digital brand ambassadors, great care must be taken to ensure these influencers match the brand image.
Socially Influential: While this is the first and only requirement for many “influencer programs”, social influence is only relevant if the other three criteria are met. If you combine powerful social reach/influence with brand passion, a readiness to actively participate and an alignment with a brand’s image, you will have an incredibly powerful brand asset. When you amass hundreds and even thousands of these Advocate Influencers into a program aligned with your brand’s top promotional priorities, you have created an entirely new marketing channel.
That’s what BRANDERATI is all about.
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5 Tips to Building a More Engaged Blogger NetworkHere are BRANDERATI, we create networks of advocate influencers who are passionate about your products to help build loyalty and brand love. These customized networks are full of socially influential beauty lovers, fashion stylists and tech heads who will become your most loyal mouthpieces and marketers.
We find both brand advocates and influencers, such as top bloggers, to help amplify your reach. We employ an amazing team of publicists who bond, spend time with and speak with bloggers about our BRANDERATI networks. But how do you build those relationships?
Here are some tips from our team as well as some influencers in the industry:
1. Make sure the content platform is user-friendly and the sharing of content is easy. Don't make it difficult for your influencers by asking them to take multiple steps to share your brand's story.
2. Create fun, engaging content that will help bloggers/influencers write stories and posts.
3. Allow Influencers to create their own content by providing tools to curate lookbooks, inspiration boards and other user-generated content.
4. Treat them special and build lasting relationships with them. You must connect with the influencers on a personal level, so get to know them.
5. Speak their language. Better yet, throw blogger parties!
6. Sampling and gifting top influencers is always a great way to get them to interact and review your products. But as a blogger Beth Jones tells us: “gifting isn't the only way to go.”
"Reaching out personally makes all the difference. Involve the blogger in the campaign or story you are trying to tell. Give them information on your goals and have the blogger contribute some thoughts and see how you can collaborate on a more successful level than just gifting and wearing. Work with the blogger to create content on your other social media platforms so that your followers feel a personal connection to your Instagram, Twitter or Facebook pages." - Beth Jones, a blogger, B Jones Style
And finally, advocates come in all shapes and sizes. Don't ignore the smaller advocates/blogs as they also have a passionate, niche following.
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Social Advocacy beyond Social Networks: The Marriage of Content and ContextInfluencer marketing is less about marketing to influencers and more about marketing "through" influencers. As influential fans create and share branded content, you are able to reach their extensive networks of friends and followers. Better yet, you are able to communicate key brand messages through the medium of trusted social relationships that have already been established. This is why influencer marketing and brand advocacy is so exponential in terms of its ROI. For every influential fan you engage, you are able to more effectively reach hundreds, sometimes thousands of others through their network. (click to tweet)
But can we go even further? What can we do in order to extend the reach and impact of these influencers beyond the realm of their own social circles?
Imagine walking into a product launch event and seeing a real time display of reviews from your key advocates who all had advanced access. Imagine browsing an in-store iPad filled with reviews of the latest shoe arrivals by top fans - just as you're deciding which shoe to try on next. Imagine visiting a corporate website to learn more about the company and getting the opportunity to explore a social hub of fan-generated content clearly communicating the voice of happy customers.
Context matters! (click to tweet) And as powerful as it is to see a tweet from my friend about a positive brand experience in Twitter, it can be equally as powerful to see that content around other key experiences and decision points.
This is the power of partnership between BRANDERATI and Feedmagnet. As a leading influencer marketing platform, BRANDERATI directs and rewards influencer-created content shared natively in social media. As the top social content management platform, Feedmagnet is able to bring that social content into other, equally powerful contexts. This include event signage and retail displays, as well as ecommerce platforms and marketing microsites. This one-two combination of influencer marketing and social storytelling is opening up new possibilities to harness the power of your top fans. Imagine what this can mean to your brand... What will you do with us?
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Organic Love: Why Paying for Influencers Isn’t Just Expensive, It’s Counter-ProductiveIn 1949, Harry Harlow of the University of Wisconsin was interested in getting his rhesus monkeys to solve increasingly complex puzzles. He wanted to get them into the spirit of things, so he presented the first problem without the usual reward, just to signal to the animals how it would be during the course of the experiment. In a turn that might not seem terribly shocking, he noticed that the monkeys continued the puzzle with no motivation at all. This is shocking because back then Skinnerian psychology argued that there are only two real motivations - survival and reward. You eat to live, you work to buy a fancy phone so you can take Instagram pics of the food you eat to live - a clean cycle. But these monkeys didn’t need to solve these puzzles to live - or even for a snack - and they weren’t getting anything for them. What Harlow and his macaca friends had stumbled upon was a third kind of motivation - intrinsic motivation - the peculiar state where they did something for the sake of doing it.
Harlow was laughed out of the faculty lounge for what came next: he tried to assess whether the monkeys would perform the same tasks better with motivation. This makes sense - if motivation is a fan, then two motivations is two fans, and they should have gone twice as fast. Whatever motivated them to solve the puzzles would be added to the motivation of a tasty succulent fruit, and they’d be more interested in doing so. What he found, however, was quite the opposite. The monkeys solved their puzzles far more slowly, and became disinterested after their initial excitement over the tasty reward had waned.
It would become clear years and thousands of pages of research later was that the system of motivation is far more exclusive. Similar experiments with human motivation proved the same result. In fact, this is something you know if you think about it. Have you ever met someone who, in the service of work or a project make themselves sick for lack of food or sleep? It’s a pretty easy experiment to run. Interns? Where you guys? I just need you for a few days...
Motivational systems are actually pretty simple to understand. They are, as Harlow indicated, singular. They don’t mix. They’re also very focused. You can’t tell someone to solve a puzzle for fun and then two days later ask him to do it for money, and then bring it back for the fifth day just for fun.
We know that the best reason to advocate for a brand is simple - you love a brand. That’s all. If you don’t believe me, ask an Apple fan. You don’t even have to ask per-say - just walk into a room with an Apple brand advocate and say: “Hey, I was thinking of buying a PC.” Watch as their hair stands on end and they clench their fists as they try to muster the self-control to make their inevitable tirade as civil as possible. Then head over to a unnamed electronics store and see how much passion you can muster from the person who is literally paid to be interested in selling it to you.
When it comes to influencer marketing, organic love is better than paid love. (click to tweet) Actually, if you’re not sure, it’s a safe bet that paid love is never the best option. But while that may seem obvious, it’s not easy to find.
BRANDERATI offers a set of really cool tools that will help you sniff out that extreme brand advocate, and you won’t even have to walk around quietly mentioning that you might be interested in buying a competitor’s product.
We do this by looking at your owned social network space - everything from the people who like and talk about you on Facebook or Twitter or the people who pin you in Pinterest or comment on your blog to your own email lists. We already know those people are rooting for your team - we just need to get them up to the plate. We also look at the wider web for people who are blogging about you or making videos about you or taking pictures of your products and then adding sepia filters to make them look even more... old? Whatever the interaction, we will hunt it down and turn it into a potential advocate - an advocate who wants to share their love of your brand - and who will do it not because we pay them to, but because they want to.
We then take this big list and make it easy for you to manage it, sort it, sort it again, put a bow on it and send it to your CMO. Then, once you’ve built an advocate army of influencers, we build a set of tools that keep them wanting more. It’s not enough to just bring them in, you need to create ever more interesting and exciting puzzles for them to solve - new and exciting ways for them to share their brand love.
In a way, this is all pretty obvious. Plus, it feels weird paying people to say they like something, right? But Harlow was mocked for his discovery and he abandoned his research and never looked back. It was only years later that people really started to appreciate the value of intrinsic motivation. And, there are some influencer platforms out there that still work this way. Some people are just so 1949.
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Recruiting Your Brand Advocates, the Right WayOne of our clients is a leader in the fashion industry. Building their influencer network, I had the chance to see and read up on the latest in the industry. The experience made me realize two things. First, I should not admit to anyone in my office where I buy my clothes. Second, these fashionistas are a part of a club that not only wouldn’t let me in, but probably wouldn’t want me hanging around outside. You know you’re not part of a clique when you read something they’re into and you are convinced that they are making it up just to mess with you.
But then I read the posts and the comments and saw some of the images and videos shared by their advocate army. I saw the passion with which they expressed their brand love and began to connect some of that lingo and those obscure references and in the end, I started to get it - if just a little. The ideal advocate influencer is a bridge between the idealized world of the brand and the rest of the world. That bridge is built out of brand-love. Knowing this, the first big question we had to tackle at BRANDERATI is “how do we find these advocate influencers?”
The recruiting philosophy at BRANDERATI is guided by three core beliefs about finding the ideal advocate influencer:
1. They want to be found.
2. Finding them isn’t enough.
3. The process of finding them is our first interaction.
1. They Want to Be Found
The thing that I find consistently fascinating is that brand love is seldom expressed in any literal or obvious way. For every post that says I love [this brand], there are about forty that mention the brand in ways that are actually far more convincing. “If you want to know who loves your power drill,” we once said to a client, “look at a support thread on power tools.” Some people answer a question on how to get something done with instructions or other advice, but advocate influencers remind their followers that their preferred brand of power tool would have simply made the job easier. Brand lovers are the ones standing in a store who take over for the clerk when an innocent bystander asks for advice. They are loud, they are proud, and they are loud. Seriously - it can be annoying. But that’s okay - because one thing a great influencer advocate will never do is hide their brand love.
This is where BRANDERATI’s social CRM comes in. Using a vast array of powerful tools and partnerships, BRANDERATI’s social spider crawls all of the major social networks and the blogosphere to listen in on that conversation. We don’t just look for brand names, we look for product names, promotional phrasing, even competitor product names, to find which influencers are going to be the most excited about advocating for your brand. And, because we actively seek influencers who have repeatedly expressed their brand-love, we find that they are far more interested in becoming an “advocate influencer” than they would be if we just scraped the internet for leaders in the field. We think of ourselves as the brand rep who walks into the store and, playing out every advocate’s dream scenario says: “Hey, I really like your pitch - you should come work for us.” When you ask the right people, you don’t have to ask twice.
2. Finding Them Isn’t Enough
There are many tools out there that will help you look through your social data to get to your influencers, and while none of them are as deeply obsessed with data as ours, having a list of brand advocates can be very exciting. The problem is, just knowing that people are interacting with your brand isn’t enough. The next step is to analyze those interactions. BRANDERATI uses a proprietary artificial intelligence (IA) toolkit to parse through millions of brand posts and make very decent guesses as to the level of brand advocacy and brand relevance in each one. But that’s not enough either - in fact, you’re just getting started.
The next step in the recruiting stage is to invite the potential advocate-influencer into the network. We don’t just let them in - we take this initial contact as an opportunity to really get to know them. This is accomplished through our “screener” - a dynamic survey our brands either create or collaborate with us to create - a set of data that is a powerful segmentation tool both in terms of understanding how influential and brand-aligned our potential advocate influencer is, and in signaling to that user what kind of experience they will have as part of our exclusive program. We also use our industry-leading gamification backend to (optionally) create initial game-inspired tasks for our users before they are admitted into the network. With these, we can accomplish brand-directed goals while raising the interaction bar for our users.
3. The Process of Finding Them is Our First Interaction
This brings us to our third core recruiting belief. While our tools are powerful and our logic is time and client-tested, none of this is meaningful to the objects of our affection. No fish cares about the fisherman’s shirt. Rather, everything we do in the recruiting phase, from the means by which we acquire data to the games we introduce, is part of the first impression we give to our influencers. If a data retrieval method doesn’t stand up to the average person’s sense of privacy, if a screener question doesn’t have the right tone - everything the user sees is not just a reflection on us, it’s a reflection on the brands we have the privilege to represent.
When you love something, you want to shout it from the rooftops. Or post it to Twitter. And when you do that, we’ll see it. We love brand love – and we have the tools to recognize it in you and then really get to know our advocate influencers in the process. We do this with the awareness that saying you’re special is not enough. And it’s not lip-service either – we truly believe in the power of our advocate army.
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Why I Joined BRANDERATIWhen I announced that I was leaving Intel, everyone’s reaction was one of surprise. Their first questions was “Why?” Indeed, why? I have been a part of the Intel family for eight years. Over the last five years I have had the privilege to be a part of an amazing team that transformed Intel into a truly social business. We painted the blank canvas, we designed and implemented global social strategies, we built extraordinary communities, and we ran innovative social programs. Intel has a special place in my heart; it led and will continue to lead in this space.
Naturally, the surprised “Why?” was followed by a curious “So what is this new opportunity? It has to be pretty darn cool!” Yes, it sure is.
As I look back at the rise of the Internet and the evolution of marketing, I cannot help but think how far we have come. From the mass media era, to the digital media era, to the rise of the digital citizen and social business. Brands have realized the value of listening and building global communities. They have worked hard on activating their presence on social networks and attracting their customers on a larger scale. But now that they have built large global communities and they continue to work hard on engaging these communities in daily conversations through a perpetual cycle of content creation and optimization, they also cannot help but wonder “what now?” Recently I have caught myself asking that question continuously as well.
Enter the Age of Advocacy. The era of collecting fans is over. Companies need to get smarter about activating their fans and current communities around the common interest, the common cause. As marketers, we need to start building movements, not campaigns! (click to tweet)
Every brand has 3-10% of the most loyal, most vocal advocates who are excited to spread the love of your brand far and wide. These advocates can be your customers, your vendors, your friends, industry influencers, and (here is a shocker!) your employees. All they crave in return is to have a more meaningful relationship with your brand beyond daily Facebook posts or regular tweets. And that is exactly what the BRANDERATI platform enables.
At BRANDERATI we put the power of influencers and brand advocates on the side of our clients. We enable brands to create advocate/influencer networks from their existing social communities, and provide the foundation for a complete program, from recruiting, through engagement, to learnings and optimization. Our platform gives brands the ability to invite selected individuals into a branded VIP community, create multiple member segments within that community, serve and target your content, give members the ability to create their own custom content and share across all social networks, evaluate the impact in real-time, and develop actionable social insights. Our turnkey strategic and creative services help ensure the best experience for you and your advocates.
I am excited to be a part of BRANDERATI and this movement because I firmly believe that, in the Age of Advocacy, those that cannot identify, engage, direct and reward an army of advocates will be at a clear disadvantage to the leaders in their space.
I invite you to reach out and connect with us. Let’s talk advocacy and influencer marketing! We would love to help you elevate your brand from Like to Love to Loyalty.
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enter:new media Launches "Branderati" PlatformNEW YORK, NY (January 17, 2013) — Social Media Agency enter:new media (ENM) has announced the official launch of its advocate influencer marketing platform, Branderati. The new software and service solution has been in development and live testing since 2010, and is the first to focus exclusively on helping brands create and leverage powerful VIP networks of fans known as Advocate Influencers. Branderati provides a turnkey solution to recruiting, activating and amplifying robust Advocate Influencer Networks from brands' existing social communities.
ENM founder and CEO Mark Curtis, says “Branderati represents a unique approach to influencer marketing. Social listening tools that simply identify digital influencers don't provide a viable answer to creating a scalable activation program. Conversely, networks of 3rd party influencers fail to take advantage of the substantial number of highly influential fans brands already have in their existing communities."
ENM defines a brand's "Advocate Influencers" as those that are passionate about the brand, actively willing to participate, aligned with the brands image and are socially influential. Branderati's unique process of building bespoke brand networks focuses on screening for all four of these critical criteria.
According to Curtis, creating members-only sub-communities of VIP social fans is a logical next step in brand social media management. "As brands continue to focus on growing the scale of their social/digital communities, they are also building connections to larger numbers of untapped Advocate Influencers. Branderati allows brands the opportunity to activate these digitally powerful brand allies in line with top promotional priorities on an ongoing basis."
Branderati has already been proven across multiple media clients in helping solve the need to monetize social media by providing a way for advertisers to reach their most influential audience members. The platform has also formed the foundation of influencer initiatives for more than 50 brands across different industries, from beauty and luxury to fashion and retail, to consumer packaged goods and technology.
For more information about Branderati (www.branderati.com) and enter:new media (www.enternewmedia.com), please contact Amy Skarbnik, firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-730-2033.
About enter: new media:
enter:new media (ENM) is a leading social media agency focused on growing, activating and optimizing social media communities for entertainment, fashion, and retail brands. Unlike other agencies offering social media services, ENM was designed from the ground up to deliver end-to-end social media capabilities encompassing Strategy, Outreach, Content, Analytics, Marketing, and Media. The agency has recently launched its advanced Advocate Influencer Marketing platform, Branderati. (for more visit: branderati.com) ENM is an independent agency based in New York City. For more information, please visit: http://enternewmedia.com.
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