Okay, so it sounds a bit contradictory to social media but everyone thinks about this whether they admit it or not; even the purists wonder if it’s possible. This is actually a panel discussion next week in San Francisco where myself, Tony Lee (VP of Marketing, TiVo), Becky Brown (Director of Social Media Strategy, Intel and Rob Fuggetta (Founder/CEO, Zuberance) will be discussing brand advocacy. Anthony Ha, Assistant Editor for VentureBeat will be moderating.
Here are the details if you are interested in attending. It’s free and it should be a lot of fun.
If you follow my blog or know me personally, you know that I talk/write quite often about advocacy and its importance to marketing. And just to clarify, when I talk about advocates, I am not referring to influencers. Some people use them synonymously but there is a huge difference. Take for example the tech industry. Some very influential blogs would include Engadget and Gizmodo. In the startup world, a few influencers that come to mind are Michael Arrington from TechCrunch and Robert Scoble. Influencer outreach is an excellent tactic to consider when pitching a new story, product leaks, launches and upgrades; events, etc. In other words, it’s good for short term promotional opportunities. It doesn’t really drive long term business value, unless you can turn the infuencers into advocates.
Advocates, on the other hand, may not have as much influence as influencers but they love your brand/product/services nonetheless. Shoot, even if you pay them no attention at all, they still tell others about your brand. Imagine if you showed them a little love, just a little. They don’t need to be incentivized or pitched either. Now, take the aggregate reach of your target influencers and compare it to the aggregate reach of ALL of your brand advocates; and I would argue that the advocate reach blows the other out of the water.
Now let’s talk about trust for a moment. Every year, Edelman releases the Edelman Trust Barometer which measures the level of trust people have in various channels. People trust people. They don’t trust marketing, PR and advertising. The trust employees (another form of advocacy) and people like themselves. It’s actually common sense if you think about it.
Bottom line is this. Customer advocacy should not be ignored; its one reason why President Obama was elected. Think back to the 2008 Presidential Election. It wasn’t about how many Facebook Fans or Twitter followers Obama had within his social circle. It was his ability (or staff’s ability rather) to empower and mobilize his fans to take action … volunteer, donate and ultimately vote. Same principles apply here with brands.
Come check out the panel next week. It should be a lot of fun!