Find Out How These E-Marketers Can Be Your Secret Weapon
Before newspapers were in print, word-of-mouth advertising was the only way to reach an outside market. For example: “Hey Jesse, you got the sturdiest, best-looking horse saddle I done seen. Where’d ya get it?” Jesse would politely say he bought the saddle a few towns back from a saddlemaker named Herschel. Next thing you know, Herschel has a new customer on the way he didn’t do a thing to earn – except make his first customer a very happy man and proud to promote Herschel’s business.
Brand advocates have been around since the beginning of commerce and have evolved quickly with the evolution of the internet. Social media has given these men and women a platform to influence hundreds if not thousands of potential customers/investors, because after all, brand advocates are Social Influencers.
Entrepreneur Magazine defined word-of-mouth advertising as: An unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product or service. Add in social media and you have a fast, far-reaching and free way to promote your business. And when it comes to raising capital, having one or two crowdfunding brand advocates on your roster will significantly widen your net.
Brand Advocates Love to Share and Talk about Things They Love
Have you ever met a salesman and thought, “He was definitely born to sell.” The same can be said about Brand Advocates. They have a certain “gift for gab”, which when used to glamorize your product or service, can grab people’s attention. A typical Brand Advocate already spends a lot of time on several social media platforms and truly enjoys the camaraderie shared amongst their online peers. They all trust one another’s opinion and heavily influence their “normal” friends, family and colleagues when they post about something. If a Brand Advocate finds something they love, everyone is going to hear about it. Make sure all of your blogs, emails and social media posts can be easily shared because all Brand Advocates have an itchy “Share” button finger.
Brand Advocates Want to be known as a Resource
Brand Advocates don’t want to be part of an online community – they want to be a contributing and respected member of the community. Recognition is a deeply motivating factor for them and they understand what it takes to be viewed as a valuable source of information. When a Brand Advocate posts or shares content about you, they want people to see the post and think, “Huh, Sharon is really into this company. I wonder what it’s all about?” Sharon’s post not only introduced the reader to your company, it also sets the stage for Sharon to answer questions and help the reader make a smart decision. Along with being recognized and respected, Brand Advocates love helping people, too. They get satisfaction in knowing their efforts are improving people’s lives.
Brand Advocates Have a Broader Reach
Market research definitely does matter so don’t think you can scrap your entire marketing strategy with one or two Brand Advocates. But when it comes to reaching potential customers or investors you would normally have no access to, Brand Advocates are your Ace in the hole. Throughout the years, Brand Advocates build friend and follower lists that dwarf the common user. Not to say they are all friends and have met in real life, but some people will friend or follow someone with an authoritative persona. One or two random new followers here, one of their friends sees a post and follows you them the next day, and the snowball continues to roll down the hill. And the great thing about it all – they are not one demographic or focus group. Brand Advocated appeal to anyone who wants a reliable source of information online, and a large number of followers is a pretty good indication.
Dmitri Williams, founder of Ninja Metrics and an associate professor at the University of Southern California, offered this quote about Brand Advocates in a Business News Daily article:
“It’s a ripple in a pond effect, and the pond is [an influencer’s] social network. Five to 10 percent of [social media users] are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of influence, [but] big influencers are almost never big spenders. The more ‘social’ the business category is, the more important [social value] is.
Think C2C, not B2C. Focus on relationships between consumers. [A coffee shop] can give the ‘cool kids’ a free coffee, but the real value is that they’re talking to their friends, so give them a better place to sit. [When you] promote and enforce the friendship, they’ll stay longer and buy more coffee. It’s a virtuous cycle.”
One very important aspect to Brand Advocate success is that they speak in their own voice. Their audience knows them well and will be able to sniff out content that is not genuine or authentic. When you consider choosing a Brand Advocate, be aware that you will have limited power in how they represent your company. There is a lot to discuss regarding the process of choosing a brand advocate, and we delve into this topic in an upcoming blog.
Whether you are still considering crowdfunding or you’re a regular pro, understanding the function and importance of Brand Advocates is important for every entrepreneur. The days of TV and radio ads with paid celebrity endorsers may not be gone forever, but the social media accounts of Brand Advocates can be more influential. Their followers will take the Brand Advocate’s opinion over some celebrity they’ve never met or communicated with, and what capital raising startup has the budget to hire a paid celebrity endorser? If you want passionate online endorsers working hard for your company behind the scenes, it’s time to start considering Brand Advocates.
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