Part 1: Introduction to Advocacy
I recently attended #HootConnect a Hootsuite virtual event, where industry experts provided their insights on the market. Here I am sharing what I have learned about advocacy and how brands can make use advocacy for their benefit.
Imagine this, you are sitting at home watching a game on TV and suddenly you get an update on Facebook that your friend just got engaged.
She didn’t have to go get her phone book dial each and every friend’s number small (yet so big) status update reached her friends in a matter of seconds. How cool is that?
This is where the strength of social lies – Connected. Fast. Efficient.
Social media has changed people’s relation with businesses as well. People today expect transparent, co-created and meaningful content from the brands and businesses. It is important to look at the digital revolution that has allowed social to flourish to such vivid possibilities.
Social is the most used (and mainly the first) interaction people have with the internet. This transformation has forced brands to move from traditional internet adverts to building deeper and meaningful relationships with people.
To explain this Matt Switzer – SVP Labs, Corporate & Business Development at Hootsuite gives a wonderful example of one the most iconic music videos ‘Gangnam Style’ by Psy. This is the first video on YouTube to ever receive 1 Billion+ views. This video became a turning point in defining virality on social media.
Social is Making the Economy more Collaborative. One of the biggest advantages is the real time availability (and the possibility of more realtime) of everything. Social can be about whatever, whenever and can reach people however. Take the example of Uber, you don’t have to go down the street and hail a cab. Those were the tiring old days. Now you just sit on your comfortable sofa and tap-tap-tap a cab is on its way to pick you up.
Everything and everyone is connected. Convenience is the driving power for the exponential growth of social. Businesses have no choice but to adapt to this and be available, as the collaborative economy is here to stay. This is the way forward.
Mobile. One of the most important factor that everyone uses but hardly ever take notice. Mobile is the defining trend of this age. It has entered peoples lives unlike any other technology ever could. A technology so ingrained that it is never put down and is always buzzing with updates.This is what makes the social and collaborative economy a reality.
Let’s now look at how Advocacy takes advantage of these strengths by understanding the workings of advocacy.
Advocacy as a whole covers a lot of ground across various verticals, here I state what I have understood about social advocacy and how can it be understood in simple terms.
“Getting customers, employees or partners to talk about your business willingly; with or without the expectation of mutual benefits”
Advocacy is vital if the business wants to build trust with new users and grow customer B2B relations as well. People believe more in a brand if they hear it from their friends (colleagues) compared to hearing from the brand. Advocacy is vital to growth. Everyone expects a transparency and ease of use. This is already having a strong impact on how businesses operate.
To be able to adapt to these trends and flourish, businesses need advocacy plans in place if they want to build a strong community and build their brand. Creating deeper, meaningful relationships drives people to talk about your business with friends. Letting consumers know you are present for them with a relevant solution any time they have an issue helps build their confidence in you which helps your business in becoming a part of their everyday conversations.
Businesses have taken on advocacy in two ways:
- Ambassador or External Advocacy: Utilizing your supporters to talk about you and for you and in turn take advantage of their networks.
- Employee or Internal Advocacy: To make promoting a collective business initiative and not just a job for the marketing team.
Both of these advocacies need an advocate network. An advocate network is a group of individuals who openly and willingly talk about your business without expecting anything in return. These can be both customers and employees alike. To build a strong advocate network businesses must:
Listen to your customers & employees alike on the type of content they share. Actively engage with them. Identify their key interests, what they tend to talk about and pick a small group of right people.
Build. Add value for these advocates. You cannot simply expect people to talk about your business without expecting anything in return. Get them to share their stories (relevant online and offline experiences), educate them, connect your advocates with each other, showcase your employees, etc.
Create Match business goals to advocate benefits. It can go from creating a closesness between your employees, or people outside the organization that talk about and benefit from your business. Your business outputs must be tied to the advocate experience. If executed correctly these will inspire your advocates further to talk about your business.
Share. Share personal brand stories about specific customers or employees (it’s a two way street), share their content to sustain the relationship
Next time we will dive deeper into the types of social advocacy and better understand how can brands take advantage of these using their advocate networks