1. You have to be worth it. The bottom line here is that if you want your customers to advocate for your brand, it has to be worth their time to do it. This comes from a combination of having an excellent product or service, and having a system in place to acknowledge and reward these advocates for their efforts. This does NOT mean financially compensating your advocates. What you can do is provide them with exclusive benefits, content, or access.
2. Quality over quantity. More isn’t always better, especially when it comes to brand advocates. Be selective when deciding whom to involve in your program. An advocate speaks to current or potential customers on behalf of your brand. Make sure you have the right voices out there spreading the word, or it will come off as inauthentic, coerced or fake. Or worse, they could be spreading the entirely wrong message to the wrong audience. So, start with a small group that you know you can rely on and build from there.
3. Have the right setup. Do not start a brand advocacy program without a completed strategy or your setting yourself up for an utter disaster. At best, you’ll look disorganized. At worst, you’ll seriously tick off your best customers. Either way, not a good look on anyone. Make sure you know exactly what you want to get out of this program, what you want your advocates to get, how that’s going to happen, and how you’re going to sustain it. An advocacy program for one campaign is a gross underuse of the benefits you could be reaping through a full time program.
4. Believe in your advocates as much as they believe in you. I know this sounds awfully Peter Pan of me, but it’s true. The hardest part of an advocacy program is letting go of total control of your brand. If your customers are out there spreading the word about your brand, let them. And let them do it in their own way and on their terms. You can have suggested messaging, of course, but you can’t control what others say any more than you can control when and where they say it. Have the same faith in them as they do in your brand, and you’ll both be very happy for it.
The most important thing to note is that whether or not you’re a part of it, there are conversations happening about your brand and industry throughout various media. You’d be silly not to take advantage of that momentum and use it to build something permanent and truly meaningful for your brand and your customers.