Create a Brand Advocacy Program

Sections of this topic

    Thousands of Fans Can Broadcast Your Marketing Message

    “Brand Advocacy” refers to the army of UNPAID people who believe in your offerings and eagerly broadcast your marketing message to their network, both online and offline. Usually, their network is interested in the same things, so your Brand Advocates reach your specific target audience. This powerful word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to build credibility and referral trust, resulting in increased sales.

    How does this happen? You can build your army of Brand Advocates in one of three main ways:

    1. Organic – natural customer satisfaction and word-of-mouth (slow)

    2. Sharing – social media content spread by your network (faster)

    3. Seeding – send content, freebies, and samples to influential bloggers and Twitter Users (fastest)

    Brand Advocates are considered more authentic, carry more ‘marketing message’ weight, and cost less than traditional advertising, such as radio, print, and television. People take their trusted friends’ recommendations quite seriously, so please don’t overlook this important strategy in your marketing plan. Word-of-mouth marketing has never been so viral.

    Jeremiah Owyang, a nationally renown digital strategy expert and consultant to Fortune 100 companies, suggests that organizations today must develop advocacy programs in order to scale, increase credibility, and demonstrate commitment. In doing so, marketers will develop a low-cost trusted unpaid army of Brand Advocates.

    Owyang’s Five Phases of Mature Brand Advocacy Programs (summarized):

    1.) First, get ready internally. Dedicate an internal staff member on a part-time basis to manage this program. Look for folks who have a background in influencer relationships and are savvy about social media. Develop a plan and educate internal stakeholders.

    2.) Find the right advocates that will represent your brand. Look at top bloggers, the most helpful and knowledgeable community members in forums, and those who have dedicated their time to managing Facebook pages, and online forums or are active in the ecosystems.

    3.) Build a relationship for the long term. Invite your select group of advocates to your headquarters to meet with key executives. Be prepared to listen, and be attentive to their requests. Intel invites its ‘Insiders’ to key events like the Intel Developer Forum.

    4.) Give them a platform–but do not pay them. The crux of an advocacy program is giving fans a platform for communicating. You’ll want to support their efforts by giving them a publication platform such as a group blog or community, so they can tell their story. Enable them with graphical “badges” they can put on their blogs, email signatures, T-shirts, and business cards as they become extended ambassadors to your brand. Microsoft MVP program showcases their advocates and provides them with a variety of resources to evangelize.

    5.) Integrate them into your business and recognize them. Next, continue to integrate them into your existing events, launches and even planning meetings. Microsoft has “conference” funds for MVPs who are encouraged to speak at industry-related conferences about their passions – further spreading the brand.

    While it’s not important to do everything all at once, it IS important to embrace this marketing strategy and make initial steps to build your Brand Advocacy program. Let ‘Progress – Not Perfection’ be your guiding principle.

    Do you have a Brand Advocacy Program? What learnings can you share that will help others start and manage one?


    For more resources, see our Library topics on Marketing and Social Networking.

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    ABOUT Lisa M. Chapman:

    Ms. Chapman’s new book has a name change! The Net-Powered Entrepreneur – A Step-by-Step Guide will be available very soon. With offices in Nashville Tennessee, but working virtually with international clients, Lisa M. Chapman serves her clients as a business and marketing coach, business planning consultant, and social media consultant. As a Founder of iBrand Masters, a social media consulting firm, Lisa Chapman helps clients establish and enhance their online brand, attract their target market, engage them in meaningful social media conversations, and convert online traffic into revenues. Email: Lisa @