Empowering Brand Advocates

Empowering Brand Advocates and Encouraging Brand Advocacy

You don’t have to be one of the mega-brands to have brand advocates and even the smallest blogs can build and encourage brand advocacy. In this post we’ll take a look at recognizing brand advocates, nurturing those relationships and empowering your biggest fans. Well start with defining a Brand Advocate, give a couple of examples, clarify the overall meaning of Brand Advocacy and, finally, take a look at how you, as a blogger, can benefit from a team of advocates looking out for you and your blog.

What Is A Brand Advocate?

A Brand Advocate is a fan that takes a personal interest in sharing and promoting your brand simply because they like your brand and what you’re doing with it.

The best way to build brand advocates is to become an authority within your niche, put your customers/readers/fans above everything and empower those that take being a fan to new levels and, finally, reward them.

image - Think Like a Rock StarBack in July I announced the winner of a book contest that we had here on Hot Blog Tips and the book I purchased and read from that experience was Think Like a Rock Star($) by Mack Collier. Mack did an awesome job on that book and I learned a lot from it. He used real life big brand examples for every lesson and it all focuses on brand advocates. Mack also reached out to me when he learned of the contest and actually sent me a signed copy of his book. Do you think that considerate and generous act made me that much more a fan? I already knew the book was awesome but I’d say it’s pretty safe to say now I’m a fan for life. It has nothing to do with the value of the book, it’s the value of the gesture that is priceless.

Encourage   ✓ Recognize   ✓ Empower   ✓ Reward  

 

Rewarding Your Brand Advocates

Blink-182 Understands Their Fans – I’ve read several books since then but in chapter four of Think Like a Rock Star, “Rock Stars Embrace and Empower Their Fans“, Mack highlighted a Blink-182 video that went the other direction of common reaction when it comes to illegal use of copyrighted material. Blink-182 recognized their fans were using the band’s music in their own videos because they were fans, not to harm the group. So rather than reporting their fan’s use of copyrighted music or getting lawyers involved, Blink-182 decided to reward their fans for appreciating and sharing the music. Blink-182 empowered their fans! The band made a video and dedicated it to their biggest fans and used clips from those videos “illegally” using their content. This is opposite the norm but a very powerful step in creating and empowering brand advocates. Check out the video and let me know your thoughts.


AT&T and blink-182’s Up All Night Fan Montage
Reward or recognize – not pay: One thing worth noting here; when I say reward brand advocates, I do not mean monetarily. Never pay advocates with money or gifts. We’re looking for true advocates, not hired help. Never risk your reputation with phony shares or testimonials. You can’t buy love. 🙂

Empowering Brand Advocacy – The Lesson of Blink-182

Think Like a Rock Star($) has many more examples but the idea is to recognize true fans, understand their intent and give them the room to express their loyalty for your brand. Rewarding brand advocates makes all the sense in the world but it’s such a new concept and goes against traditional old-school thinking, very few brands embrace it and benefit from fans to the levels possible. Traditional business thinking generally focuses on things like ROI and rarely thinks beyond the transaction. That’s unfortunate because they’re missing the big picture of social media and being surpassed by the competition.

So how does a band’s music video relate to blogging? Hopefully you can already see the relation but the idea is universal. Let’s take social media, for example, since it’s probably the most powerful median available to us as brands. The day of clicking the like button or sharing a tweet is so 2010.  We’ve reached a level that requires true interaction and influence. Not just your influence but the influence of your fans. Those customers/subscribers/fans that love your brand and message so much they speak on your behalf is absolutely priceless! Everyone has influence and our fans are no exception. Embracing and empowering those fans are crucial when it comes to online success.

The Breakdown of The Fan

Everyone is different but, as rude as it might seem, it can be easier to break our fans into a few categories, just for a better understanding.

Jeffrey Rohrs, author of AUDIENCE: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans and Followers($) breaks it into three different levels and does an excellent job of explaining it in detail but basically we have Seekers, Amplifiers, and Joiners. To add my own take and to bring the two thought processes together, I’d have to say a Brand Advocate would be a combination of all three levels, perhaps even on a higher level.

  • Seekers: Looking for information or entertainment.
  • Amplifiers: An audience with an audience. Consumers become the best source of marketing.
  • Joiners: Seekers or amplifiers that become subscribers.

Know Your Brand Advocates and Think Of Them

Okay, so I’m into blogging, right? Does that mean I should limit my reach to blogging and related online business? That would be foolish yet we not only see this tactic everywhere, we actually see it being taught. I’m all about examples so here you go.

We have a brand advocate that, I’m sure, doesn’t even realize he is one. He shares almost everything we do across all of the major social media networks and participates in our events, both recorded and live. He’s Scott Craighead and he’s not a blogger, not really. He tried it and decided it wasn’t for him but still follows Hot Blog Tips and has become a true friend of the brand, and me. Scott has gone so far as to review our blog without being asked or charging us, created images to help the brands and even went as far as creating supportive (and funny) videos for us. You can’t buy that kind of influence!

Learn From Your Advocates

I’ve learned from so many fans, I feel like I’ve taken a course in proper social behavior 2.0. When a fan shares your product or content, they are giving without expecting anything in return. They do so, in many cases, for their friends, not so much to help you. That is true social sharing at it’s best and that is exactly what business, and personal brands, should strive for. Share to truly help others, not to benefit from it on the back end.

The second thing to learn here is that the best way to encourage brand advocacy is to create product and content that truly helps others. Remember? Put your fan above all else, and that includes future fans. If I see something that will help a friend, follower or family member, I’m going to share it with them. It’s a great product and it will help them – period. Again, that’s exactly what we should strive to do, help others and the brand advocacy will follow.

I’ve taken very small steps to empower the voices that help our brand, Hot Blog Tips, and still work to think outside or the stale old traditional business way of thinking. One thing we’ve started doing, to give you an idea, is to feature great blog comments on our Pinterest board. That’s a very small gesture but can go a long way. It’s human nature to appreciate recognition and we shouldn’t limit that recognition to family and close friends, our fans deserve it as well.