Brand Advocacy: Why Your Fans Are Important to Your Brand.
How can you turn your biggest fans into your word of mouth marketing army and how will it result in driving sales to your front door? Recently I just presented at I-Strategy in San Francisco on this topic. Which to my surprise “Brand Advocacy” was the buzz in many presentations from Brian Solis to Sandy Carter from IBM. More and more companies are realizing that cultivating the relationship between consumers and their brands is important for not only driving sales but creating a online community powerhouse.
As some of you might know my whole journey into social media began accidentally with becoming a online brand advocate for Bruce’s Yams in 2008, which then turned into a community manager position. Then recently with my twitter chatter for the international car brand Audi, turned into a great brand/consumer relationship and the Audi Roadtrip and a recent VIP invite to The Rolex 24 in Daytona, not to mention the marketing agency for Audi M80 actually stopping by my presentation to answer some further questions… how freakin cool is that?
In my presentation at I-Strategy, I taught about the importance of participating in conversations, interacting with consumers and how to empower your brand’s audience. If you missed the presentation here is a few key points I touched upon….
How to participate in conversations online.
“It’s a learning process for everyone in this industry. Nobody is an expert. We started with one goal: listen, listen, listen”. -@Audi484848
I overhear in many different planning sessions with clients, “How do we as a company talk to our fans online?” Well, it’s not as hard as you think first read, “The Brand Is Just Not Into You” and second you want to remember the three E’s….
Social Media Connection vs Engagement (Photo credit: Intersection Consulting)
- Entertain – Provide entertaining and sharable content.
- Educate- Informational content. Make it fun and interactive.
- Engage- Talk to your consumers, not at them. Listen and address concerns.
Why you should interact with consumers.
For some brands and their marketing agencies, stepping out from behind the curtain may be tough. But it can come with some great benefits for both the brand and the consumer.
- Increasing sale opportunities
- Improving company reputation
- Gaining lifelong customers.
Why Empower Your Fans?
Empowering your fans and provide them with resources and they will happily tell others. As the case goes with the Audi Roadtrip, the brand plus the fan equaled results. With 130 tweets over a week and more than 2,000,000 impressions and a reach of over 288 thousand people through Twitter and the #AudiRoadtrip hashtag. Not to mention the buzz at Blogworld on “How’s the Audi?” or “Can we ride in your Audi A7?” when we arrived at the event, due to the following of the Audi Roadtrip. Also with the addition of Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas supporting our roadtrip with a few free nights, they gained a great buzz, a couple of now planned bachelor parties, a few marriages at the hotel and a cancelled reservation from someone on my twitter stream that had reservations elsewhere in Vegas. Again, the Cosmopolitan relationship was another one where I had previously supported them and they supported me back as a fan.
So you basically just have a huge twitter following and you’ll get free stuff?
Social media is about building relationships between brand and consumer. Not just about getting perks. There’s got to be a real relationship first. Whenever I do get an awesome opportunity, it’s because I’ve spent months building a strong relationship with a brand, I never once go into it thinking “Oh, maybe if I support this brand I’ll get free stuff”, it’s about supporting brands I love and sometimes really amazing things happen because they support me back.
I see so many companies just latching onto anyone online with a large following that have no idea about their product or just try it once and run. You’ve got to find the people out there with passion about your product, not shout “Please love me, i’ll give you free stuff!” and vice versa, I see so many people hitting up brands online like crazy cat ladies.
Again… it should depend on your passion and not how popular you are. Someone at I-Strategy had a great example on where Justin Bieber who has millions of followers tweeted about Egypt with almost NO impact at all on the movement. Now, someone else in Egypt who tweeted and had about 138 followers had a great impact on the movement. Why is this? It’s relevancy of your audience, trust and reach. That person in Egypt probably had much more of a passionate message and larger audience reach towards the cause.
Why it works for me?
I have a bit of a secret sauce that even I don’t understand completely, I guess it’s divine intervention or charisma or what I have learned from my student loan. Sometimes I am shocked when things happen. Mostly, it’s just using the golden rule.
“Be freaking nice. Don’t be a jackass and cool things might happen.”
But for the most part it’s because my audience trusts me, usually looking towards me and my experiences for “What’s cool…” and usually the brands that I do end up pairing up with not only fit well with my personality and lifestyle but are companies and products that I personally support and would blabber about anyways. Most of my demographics believe it or not are males over 30 and 50-100k+, well traveled and looking for a luxury car like Audi or entertaining clients at The Cosmopolitian.
Now that’s all great and fluffy but where’s the ROI?
The Audi Roadtrip had over $210,000 known sales of an A7. They probably spent less than $500 in gas and getting the car to us in Vegas. Not to mention the unknown numbers of people in my audience that have since test driven and purchased Audi’s due to my brand mentions, and yes, I will also probably be buying an Audi soon. Also Audi’s sales went up 3.6% in November of 2011, of course I have no idea if this relates to our roadtrip, but it would be awesome if that was true.
Now that’s just the tip of the iceberg of course but I would love to hear some more stories on how Brand Advocacy has shown great results? If you have any please post a comment.