Are you looking for ways to build customer advocacy for your business? If so, you’re in the right place! In this blog post, we will discuss some of the best ways to create customer advocates using social listening. Customer advocacy can be a powerful tool for growing your business, so it’s essential to ensure that you do everything possible to foster community and pay attention to your most valuable asset.
Before we jump into how social listening can increase customer advocacy, let’s define a few terms. I have always found that getting on the same page with definitions and semantics at the beginning is critical to having a conversation and point of view.
Social media listening can be defined as listening to conversations on social channels to manage brand reputation, solve customer issues, and engage with customers online. You can do a lot more, but these are the basics. This practice involves using the right technology, having a team to support, and operational workflows to ensure problems are handled.
Now that we’ve got a definition out of the way, let’s move on and talk about customer advocacy and how it can benefit your business and brand.
What is Customer Advocacy?
Customer advocacy is when customers speak positively about your brand to their friends, family, and followers. This is word-of-mouth marketing, which is essential because it helps build trust and credibility. When potential customers see that your current customers are happy and satisfied, they are more likely to do business with you.
There are many ways to encourage customer advocacy, but one of the best is social listening. By monitoring social conversations, you can quickly identify unhappy customers and resolve their issues before they speak negatively about your brand. You can also use social listening to identify customer advocates and reward them for loyalty.
Many definitions of customer advocacy mention that it’s an advanced form of social customer service. While I agree on the surface, it’s much more. Superior customer service is the byproduct of a business culture that prioritizes the wants and desires of its customers.
These companies build products, structure and organize teams, and mirror the same values as their customer. They live and breathe customer obsession and every decision the organization makes concerns customer needs.
It’s a simple concept if you think about it, and it’s similar to “reciprocal altruism” for brand advocacy. I define customer advocacy like this: Give, without any expectation of receiving anything in return. When you love your customers, they will love you back and tell others.
These are words to live by. These are words I live by. The integration of customer advocacy is a necessary pillar of a B2B social media strategy because it’s built off the premise of trust and relationships.
3 Ways Social Listening Can Fuel Customer Advocacy Programs
Here are a few ways to create customer advocacy using social listening. Not all of these might be relevant to your business, but some will be important to implement at some point in the future.
Identify Influential Customers: With social listening, you can identify individuals that have purchased your product or service and segment them based on their level of influence. This means you can target customers with a large social following and are more likely to generate word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. Most customers are created equal, but paying special attention to your customers with large communities wouldn’t hurt. In this scenario, you are just documenting and tracking those customer advocates already talking about your business online.
Surprise & Delight: This is very tactical, but it works. It’s an approach where community managers listen to online conversations on external social channels and “surprise and delight” loyal customers with a gift. It could be tickets to a concert, a gift certificate, or six months of free service. It’s a fun way to put a smile on your customer’s face just for being your customer. It’s the small things that create a memorable customer experience.
Product Innovation: This is where you collect real-time feedback about your product or service from your customers on social channels. More importantly, you implement that feedback into your product roadmap. Of course, it should align with your business and product vision. But customer feedback will not just help you build a better product, but when they know you are “taking action” based on their wants. These strategies will help you create customers for life.
These tactical ways to use social listening for customer advocacy are table stakes for brands today. However, it’s even more critical to think long-term about customer advocacy and making it a part of your business, especially as word of mouth continues to be a critical influence factor for buying decisions, according to an eMarketer report on Gen Z shopping habits.
While social listening is a great way to engage in real-time with your customer advocates, there are additional things you can do to build a customer advocacy program and provide a customer experience that creates buzz in the market.
Formalize Your Customer Advocacy Program
When I worked for Yahoo! years ago, we built a private customer community for Yahoo! Groups Moderators. We met weekly and asked for their feedback on improving the product and overall customer experience. We even flew them to the Yahoo! Headquarters and wined and dined them once per quarter. Maybe not the greatest example of a customer advocacy program since Groups is no longer with us, but you get it. Essentially, it’s operationalizing a customer advocacy program and making it a part of the annual planning process.
Customer Community: Building a customer community is a best practice for B2B tech and SaaS companies. It’s an excellent way to facilitate relationships between your customers and create a space for them to solve technology challenges and innovate how they use your product. Some customer communities are private and require login credentials; others are more open for everyone to participate. In any case, building online communities for your customers to participate and exchange value should be an initiative that all business and tech brands prioritize.
Customer Retention Rates: Customer advocacy can improve customer retention rates. Customers who advocate for your brand are likelier to continue doing business with you and are less likely to switch to a competitor. Loyal customers can also help you attract new customers through word-of-mouth marketing and referrals.
Word of Mouth Marketing: customer advocacy can increase your business’s word-of-mouth marketing. Customers who advocate for your brand are likelier to tell their friends and family about your products or services. A customer advocate is likelier to write positive reviews on sites like G2 and Capterra.
Customer Satisfaction Levels: Customer advocacy can lead to higher customer engagement. Customers who advocate for your brand feel more connected to your company and are more likely to be satisfied with your products or services. Additionally, customer advocates can provide valuable feedback to help you improve your products or services.
Survey Your Customers: A customer survey is one of the best ways to collect feedback about your product or service. It’s also an excellent opportunity to identify and include customer advocates in a program. When conducting a customer survey, have questions to help you segment your customer base and identify those most likely to recommend your brand to others.
Create Incentives: Everyone loves a good incentive. A smart customer advocacy program will incentivize customers to speak positively about your brand. For example, you could offer customers a discount or coupon code that writes a positive review or mentions your brand on social media.
Encourage Reviews and Testimonials: Customers who have had a positive experience with your brand are likelier to leave a review or testimonial. These act as social proof and can help increase customer advocacy. You can use social listening to identify customers who are happy with your product or service and reach out to them directly.
Software Tools for Customer Advocacy Programs
A few software platforms can help you with your customer advocacy program. Here are a few to consider:
- Zuberance: Zuberance was of the first advocacy platforms on the market. They help brands identify, engage, and activate their brand advocates. They provide features like social media management, influencer marketing, and gamification.
- Influitive: Influitive is a software platform that helps brands operationalize their brand advocacy programs. They provide customer segmentation, advocacy recruiting, and gamification to help brands engage their customers.
- GaggleAMP: GaggleAMP helps brands amplify their message through employee and customer advocate strategies. Their platform provides social media management, content curation, and reporting.
- Appreciation Engine: Appreciation Engine helps brands create loyalty programs that incentivize customers to write reviews and give referrals. They provide several features like review management, referral tracking, and customer insights
Customer advocacy should be a priority regardless of your business size. Doing so will help you build an army of brand advocates across the entire brand digital ecosystem.
Q: How does customer success fit into customer and brand advocacy?
A: Customer Success is all about ensuring that your customers successfully use your product or service. A vital part of this is ensuring they advocate for your brand by providing them with a stellar customer experience. Customer success managers are responsible for maintaining customer relationships and ensuring their success with software deployment. They are similar to account managers but focus on the product rather than the business.
Q: What are brand advocates?
A: Brand advocates are synonymous with customer advocates. They speak positively about your brand and recommend your products and services to others. They could be customers, prospects, fans, or even employees.
Q: How can I identify brand advocates?
A: You can identify brand advocates through surveys, social media listening, or customer reviews.
Q: How can customer advocates help my business?
A: A customer advocate can help your business by improving customer retention rates, increasing word-of-mouth marketing, and boosting customer satisfaction. Additionally, they can provide valuable feedback to help you improve your products and services.
Q: What is customer loyalty?
A: Customer loyalty is when customers continue to buy from you, despite having the option to go elsewhere. It results from a strong emotional connection between the customer and your brand. This is advocacy.