16 August 2012 8 Comments

How to increase the value of online brand advocates

Author: yinkaolaito

Yinka Olaito is happy,excited and passionate Communications & Media specialist, Trainer and speaker. Yinka Olaito helps Profits and Non-profits with effective communication and positioning for premium service delivery and returns. Yinka Olaito also has special interest in Development Communication and has consulted for noted UN Agencies. Yinka Olaito is the CCO of Michael Sage Consulting(Communication/digital media), African Child Education Right Initiatives(NGO) and Content Director, Africa Development Talk( online Platform for discussion on Policy, Governance, development across Africa) and Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals

brand advocate, Online brand advocate, brand management, Social Media, Digital MediaBrand advocates are vital to any brand’s success. Without them, a brand’s efforts become a solo run. Social media efforts thrive on the old cliché ‘the more the merrier’. Personal effort may take ages before it can achieve what group efforts can. When a brand’s social media efforts enjoy  quality sharing from advocates, the result is that it soon catches fire and generate significant returns. It also builds stronger engagement with known and potential targets as they learn from trusted friends instead of the brand itself.

Brand’s effort that enjoy advocates’ support also increases its reach and impacts on fans’ growth exponentially. But before we discuss the need to increase value and benefits a brand should extend to its advocate, it will be appropriate to examine the process many of your brand advocates had gone through. This will help you appreciate them better.

Before the advocates moved to their present status, they have been joiners. A survey estimates this group (Joiners) to be in the region of 83% of the entire brand’s online crowd. These are people who participate in your online activities and campaigns without sharing anything at all. This set of people does not help the brand to enjoyed earned media. But they may be  good adds- on.  Then we have the ‘sharers’. This set takes a step further by participating and sharing the brand’s activities with people within their own network. The study showed about 15.4% of a brand’s social media efforts fall into this category. The fractional part left behind which is about 1.5% belongs to the brand advocate group. The advocates participate in your social media efforts, share with their networks but the most important factor is that they have influence over many that see them as reference point. Hence they can influence the minds of all their followers to support your brand’s initiatives.

 With this background knowledge of who your online brand advocates are, will it not be right if brand custodians work hard to increase the value of relationship between them and their brand advocates? Doing this is not just a wise decision but something that should be continuously cultivated.

Here below are some of the ways to increase the valued relationship.

Mention them: Occasional mention their names as most valuable people. Everyone likes to know they are important.

Appreciate them: Do not just mention their names, go ahead and appreciate them in whatever form you can. Give them a product, offer them a free service and let them acknowledge this on your page.

Call them for a physical caucus meeting: It will not be a bad idea if you can have a physical contact meeting with them. This is especially good if it can be organized as  a get together with top management as a form of appreciation. You may want to sponsor their trips, accommodation and associated costs. Do not forget also that their values may exceed whatever cost you may incur at the long run.

Give them enough information: A Nigerian adage says ‘there is no need to hide your nakedness to the person who will bathe for you when you are dead’. We are not saying you must necessarily divulge all the information but you should be able to trust them with a level of information they will require to work for you. Remember, they are offering free and not paid service and they can withdraw this service if frustrated.

What has worked for you? Please do share.

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