Brand advocacy is the pinnacle of SOCIAL CURRENCY. You cannot buy it, but you can certainly build it.

There is certainly no denying that businesses, entrepreneurs and marketers are now beginning to take advantage of brand advocates in order to tell their brand’s story in social channels,  such as Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. But it seems that many businesses are overlooking one incredibly important group of individuals in order to boost their brand; their employees.

Why are brand advocates so important to your business?

Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-cola says “awareness is fine, but advocacy will take your business to the next level. “

There has been an abundance of several studies that have been able to highlight statistical proof that brand advocates most certainly work.

Studies conducted by the Wharton School of Business , R&G Technologies  as well as McKinsey  have all revealed the outstanding benefits of brand advocates:

●    A referred customer has up to 16% higher lifetime value to your business.
●    Brand advocacy can help reduce the overall cost of acquiring new customers.
●    Word of mouth is responsible for 20% to 50% of all purchasing decisions.
●    Referral leads take less time to convert (less decision time is needed).
●    People trust the word of family and friends more than any other source and will pay less attention to advertising, promotions and company marketing sources.
●    83% of satisfied customers are more than willing to refer products or services.
●    29% of satisfied customers will actually refer products or services to a friend or family member.

Brands do not require an over-sized or unrealistic budget in order to get noticed. The solution? Companies need to utilise their employees social capital.

Consumers trust information from their own social media networks.

With social media, real reviews and opinions from real customers are available at a push of a button. This is why consumers primarily trust online information. Did you join a particular website or forum, or perhaps buy a specific product because you saw an advertisement or did you do it because a family member, friend or work colleague told you about it?  Consumers don’t often ask search engines if a particular company or brand is legitimate. When you empower your employees to become brand advocates, they are leaving a lasting impression with individuals that understand their motivations.

As we’ve seen, consumers typically believe online reviews, even if those reviews are submitted from people they don’t know, over company promotions, messaging and advertising.

Honesty speaks positively and loudly about your business.

Involving your employees in the social media conversation allows many of your company’s departments to interact with one another, potentially creating a valuable inbternal feedback loop.

Involving employees also provides a world of opportunity to humanise the way your brand appears and functions, both internally and online in the public domain. The information that your employees can provide will most certainly be a valuable tool in order for your business and brand to connect with potential buyers.

Empowering your employees

Empowering employees in order for them to become brand advocates is most certainly one way in order to engage an active market through social media with low risk and high return.  Companies who are capable of recognising the potential of their very own employees, will no doubt have a market advantage by connecting with a larger number of potential customers, more quickly with minimal outlay.

But how do you empower them to become fundamental brand advocates who will use your brand as an additional extension of themselves? And what incentives do you offer them in order for them to perform, in what some may believe to be, above and beyond their contracted roles?

Provide RewardsProvide your chosen employees with incentives and rewards so that they’re eager to promote the company on social media. This can be anything from special bonuses, gift cares, casual dress day or even a day off. Be sure to make it something worthwhile so that employees don’t think of it as a job and are excited to be a part of.  Fast Company also recommends using social media as a way for employees to prove themselves for leadership positions and advancement in the company. 

Create A Social Media Policy For Your Company, including marketing collateral and an approved management plan in the case of negative feedback.

Measure The ResultsTo make sure the employee brand advocate program is working, you’ll have to measure its results. You can do this by monitoring key words, surveys of ambassadors on how their experience is going and make corrections where needed, tracking business relationships that have been established and creating a system that collects information on complaints or praise from customers.

Employee brand advocates will improve your bottom line. Smart companies are empowering their employees to become an extension of your brand, and as a result, an additional marketing asset.

Start empowering your employees today !