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76 percent people find content or recommendations by actual consumers to be more honest and believable than advertising by brands

Consider two scenarios when you are about to make a purchase – first, you see an ad about a product or service that does seem interesting, but the question of quality and authenticity deters you from making a purchase. Second, the same product is recommended to you by a friend or family member who has used it and can vouch for the quality. More often than not, the second scenario is likely to convert into a purchase. Darshit Shah, Digital Marketing Executive, Germin8 shares why brand advocacy is important for anyone who is selling something.

Who is a brand advocate?

Shah: Brand advocates can be your existing customers, employees, influencers, or business partners. What sets this community apart from other promotional activities is that these people recommend a business to others voluntarily, without being paid to do so by the brand. These advocates are not only loyal to your brand, but help boost revenue by promoting your products/services to new audiences via online reviews, customer referrals, user-generated content (UGC), word-of-mouth recommendations, and social media posts.

Brand advocacy Brand advocates can be your existing customers, employees, influencers, or business partners. Photo by Leon on Unsplash


Why should you focus on engaging brand advocates?

Shah: Chances are that your brand advocates are already existing around you. The first step is to identify them and create a community. Next, focus on nurturing this set of loyal, vocal customers. Ensure that you give back to your brand advocates by acknowledging them and giving them exposure. Celebrate their achievements and showcase them in your brand's content like newsletters, blogs, etc. to build a long-term relationship. 76 percent people find content or recommendations by actual consumers to be more honest and believable than advertising by brands -- while this is reason enough for brands to nurture an active brand advocate community, here are five more reasons to do so:

It is an organic, free, or almost-free form of marketing:
Authenticity is the key factor in brand advocacy since the promotion from your brand advocates is purely organic in nature. Your community of advocates offers dual benefits as not only it is a completely natural form of marketing that leads to long-term loyalty, but it costs you almost nothing compared to other marketing activities.

Brand advocacy Real people with whom consumers can relate helps build trust in a product or service. Photo by Headway on Unsplash

Brand advocacy humanizes your brand: No matter how much technology makes things faster and easier, nothing can beat human interaction -- and that is exactly what brand advocates do for a business. Real people with whom consumers can relate helps build trust in a product or service. This goes a long way in both gaining and retaining consumers rather than chatbots, paid to advertise, or scripted corporate content on the brand's social media accounts.

The community has a wider reach and can gain newer audiences: Brand advocates help grow your brand's visibility both online and offline by recommending your products to other people, which stems from a genuine belief in your brand. Moreover, given that most advocates have a loyal following across social media platforms, this community has the power to influence the buying habits of a larger audience – a feat that is often difficult to achieve even with traditional paid advertising.

Brand advocates create UGC: 2020 witnessed UGC become an effective marketing tool and brand advocates are excellent resources for a company to provide videos, guest blog posts, reviews, testimonials, and other such content to audiences. Encourage creativity among your active customers and incentivize UGC to gain the attention of potential customers who trust your brand advocates, thereby driving sales.

ALSO READ: should brands surrender to cyberbullying

Protects your online reputation and builds credibility: According to a study by the World Economic Forum, 25 percent of the market value of a business is directly associated with its reputation. Brand advocates can play a key role in building a brand's reputation by making people aware of a company's values, sharing positive reviews about products, and helping mitigate any negative content on social media posting about the brand. Since brand advocacy works on trust and transparency rather than paid promotion, it can be immensely beneficial in improving the credibility of a business among new audiences.

Harnessing the true power of your advocate community can increase brand presence both in-person and online. So rather than leaving brand advocacy to chance, start working on a well-designed customer advocacy strategy and reap the benefits that come along with having active brand advocates. (IANS/JC)


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