“Content marketing” must be one of the most over-used buzzwords by all digital marketers.
Brands are realising that content is one of the most effective ways of engaging with fans and achieving a true ROI. But there is one element of content marketing that is often overlooked and it is also one of your cheapest, yet most effective sources of sales – brand advocates.

For brands to keep generating quality content requires time and money. According to the Content Marketing Institute, brands spend more than 24% of their marketing budget on professional content development. We all know (being consumers ourselves) that consumers trust and engage more with people than with advertising. And when it comes to social engagement, we want to engage with real people rather than a banner or sponsored promotion.

Brand advocates are customers who sincerely talk in a positive way about your brand to others. By working with advocates to build an advocacy program, you can empower these individuals and intregrate them into your overall content marketing strategy. Brand advocates are highly influential as they 1:

  • Are 5x more valuable than average customers
  • Spend at least 2x as much as average customers
  • Reach 150 people in social media every time they advocate for a brand

There are numerous benefits of using your brand advocates (be it consumers, employees or bloggers) to help generate content that has longevity, is authentic and most importantly, helps to achieve those business KPIs and demonstrate a true return on investment.

Here are my top tips for turning your brand advocates into content creators:

  • Identify – monitor your social channels and identify those individuals that regularly post positive comments about your brand on their social channels. The size of their social audience is less important than their advocacy. These engaged users are your ‘low hanging fruit’ that will most likely be the most receptive to helping you with content creation.
  • Help them help you – your loyal users may be willing to create and share content about your brands but don’t necessarily think of it themselves. Provide your advocates with content ideas and as much brand information as possible – e.g. new product samples, upcoming events, previews and exclusive videos. With a ready supply of content, it will make it easy for them to talk about your brand and share it with their social circles.
  • Let them lead – if you are asking advocates to create content, be wary of being too prescriptive. It is their content and they need to feel comfortable with what they create and share. You can guide them but allow them to use their own voice to create their message.
  • Build the relationship – as with all relationships, people want to feel included and part of a team. Keep your advocates informed of brand developments and make it a two-way street by asking for feedback, especially before you ask them to talk about your brand. Not only will this help to keep your brand top of mind, but it will also provide real feedback to help you refine your marketing strategy.
  • Ask for permission – if advocates create a piece of content, it is theirs to own. Generally, being a brand advocate, they are probably going to be happy for you to share their content on your digital and social platforms, given it will help to promote their profile further. Just make sure you ask before posting.
  • Avoid remuneration – To maintain the authenticity of a brand advocate, avoid any formal remuneration. There is a big difference between content shared via a loyal advocate to that of a blogger who is being paid to talk about your brand. There is nothing wrong with working with influencers and bloggers who you pay for the opportunity to have them promote your brand, but don’t confuse this with content marketing by true advocates.

Using brand advocates can be a successful strategy to amplify your content marketing. If you are looking for additional tips and tools to engage with your audience and build your content strategy, I recommend your have a read of this book “The scoop on blogging secrets.”

This e-book was written by myself and three other dietitians and is a great resource for all nutrition, health and lifestyle digital assets be it a website, blog or other social channels.

Have you had experience working with brands as an advocate yourself? Or would you like to share any great case studies where brand advocacy has worked well? I would love to hear your comments so please drop me a line.

Reference 1: 10 Case Studies Prove the ROI of Brand Advocates