Advocacy marketing has become a bit of a buzzword in 2017, as more brands and businesses start to realize its revenue-driving magic. At its core, advocacy marketing isn’t anything new. Brand advocates have been supporting their favorite companies with word-of-mouth marketing for decades. However, as the marketing landscape continues to pull away from digital paid advertising, brands need to formulate new strategies and programs for driving brand awareness and revenue.
Crossing your fingers and hoping that someone talks about your brand isn’t a marketing strategy. You can’t just wish for advocates to share your latest content or recommend your brand to their friends and followers. Brands need to create a system that organizes, empowers, and rewards advocates for their actions. This is what we mean when we talk about an advocacy marketing program.
An advocate by itself is great at driving the occasional sale. But 1,000 advocates all working in tandem? That is a true formula for success.
We wrote this blog back in 2017, and over the pass four years, advocacy marketing has become an integral tactic to any successful omnichannel marketing initiative. Much of what we wrote in 2017 rings true today, but we’ve added a few additional sections to help guide brands with their 2021 and 2022 advocacy marketing efforts. These updates are in bold below.
Why Do Brands Use Advocacy Marketing Programs
At SocialToaster, we work with brands of all shapes and sizes; from B2B to universities to Ecommerce, we’ve seen thousands of brand advocacy programs. Most of the time, these brands use advocacy marketing to:
1) Earn More Branded Engagement
It’s no secret that Facebook is constantly tweaking their publishing algorithm. The result is almost always a decrease in organic brand reach. By having advocates share branded content on their personal Facebook feeds, they’re able to show their messaging to the advocates’ social network without having to pay cash money for promoted postings.
On top of that, advocacy marketing messages are less likely to fall into a consumer’s ad blindness. Consumers have been exposed to so many ads, their brains have adapted and are literally filtering the ads out of their digital journey.
2) Garner More Trust
Consumers are simply more likely to trust a peer or third-party recommendation than anything a brand says. In fact, only 24% of consumers trust online ads, whereas up to 92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations.
3) Drive More Sales
Conversion rates from earned media (third-party media, including advocate marketing) average at 5% or higher. Compare that to the paid media conversion benchmark of 1%-2%. Additionally, 67% of consumers surveyed say they are likely to purchase an item or service they see on their social feeds. On top of that, recommendations from a trusted friend or family are 50-times more likely to trigger a purchase when compared to other sources.
The Two Main Types of Advocacy Marketing Programs
Most Advocacy Marketing programs come in two different flavors:
Advocacy marketing programs that are made up primarily of a brand’s employees. Typically found in B2B companies (though that’s not a rule), these programs empower their workforce to share case studies, blog posts, and job openings with their employee’s social networks.
Advocacy Marketing Programs that focus on a brand’s end consumer or the customer. These programs use a brand’s biggest fans to share blog posts, information about upcoming sales, product reviews, or video views.
A Variety of Uses for an Advocacy Marketing Program
Brands use advocacy marketing to support all kinds of marketing missions. Common goals are:
1) Distribute Branded Content
We talked about this a bit earlier in the blog post, but we’re going to mention it again as it’s doubly important. Stop letting your content production dollars go to waste! If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? If no one sees your content, what good is it?
An advocacy marketing program allows a brand to immediately distribute their content to their advocates for easy sharing across their social media feeds. Imagine having your content seen by hundreds (or thousands) of social media feeds. That’s the power of an advocacy marketing program.
Pro Tip: Use an Advocacy Marketing Platform that makes it insanely easy for your advocates to publish your branded content to their social media feed. SocialToaster’s proprietary one-click sharing functionality lets advocates share your post straight from their email inbox!
2) Build Brand Awareness Through Social Amplification
On top of sharing your content, an advocacy marketing program helps amplify your brand’s presence on social media. Advocates are putting your brand name and content on their feeds, helping to introduce or reinforce your brand with their friends and followers. We all know it takes more than one touch to make a sale. Social amplification helps to ensure your brand stays top-of-mind with potential consumers.
3) Social Contest Execution
While not all advocacy marketing campaigns can handle social contest or sweepstakes support (Point of fact, ours can!), many brands use their advocates to help drive awareness of, and entries into, contests and sweepstakes. A well-executed contest can support a number of marketing goals, including:
- Increasing email list membership
- Driving brand awareness
- Earning more social media followers
Build social excitement by awarding your advocates with more entries when they promote the contest or get their friends to enter.
4) Share Job Openings and Other Company News
On average, companies spend $4,000 to fill a single, open position. Advocacy marketing programs (both employee and consumer) give brands a platform to help spread the word of new job openings and opportunities without having to hire a recruiter or drop a dime on Indeed ads.
5) Foster Brand Loyalty and Community Engagement Through Two-Way Communication
An advocacy marketing program (especially one built on the SocialToaster and SocialToaster Lite platform) provides tools and functionality that allows you to have more direct two-way conversations with your advocacy – quizzes, surveys, etc. . Sure, your community may already receive your weekly newsletter and promotional messages, but there’s one major drawback to this type of communication. It’s one-sided. It’s rare for your community to have an opportunity to directly respond to your newsletter, for instance.
The more your audience feels that you are listening to their feedback and taking into account their needs, the more likely your brand is to foster long-term loyalty in your platform and drive more engagement in your advocacy program.
6) Showcase Your User-Generated Content
Are you keeping tabs on your Instagram tags? What about your Twitter mentions and TikTok nods?
User-generated content can be a powerful addition to your advocacy marketing content strategy. According to a 2020 study by Stackla:
- Consumers find UGC 9.8x more impactful than influencer content.
- 79% of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
If your audience is actively creating content on behalf of your brand (user-generated content), you can dovetail those efforts into your advocacy marketing program. In other words, share those UGC Instagram stories!
Advocates are vital to the success of any brand. Brands need to have customers that cheer and shout their endorsement to their friends and family. Give your advocates the tools they need to promote your company: an advocate marketing program allows a brand to scale, organize, empower, and reward its advocates.