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Truth talk time. The days of big brands “buying” their audiences are coming to an end. The era of advocacy marketing is officially here as more brands opt to create and build their own audiences instead of relying on a publisher or other platform to create the audience for them. Bully for them we say! However, for every brand that takes the leap into advocacy marketing, there’s another dozen waiting on the sidelines for reasons that are often misguided.

Don’t let inaccurate observations and preconceived notions stop you from building your own audience of loyal fans and start reaping the benefits of an advocacy marketing program. Here are 4 of the most common misconceptions we see around advocacy marketing.

 

Misconception #1:
Advocacy Marketing Doesn’t Have the Same Reach as Other Marketing Channels

Sure, an advocacy program of 1 isn’t going to reach as many people as an ad shown during the big game, but what about an advocacy program with 500 or even 5,000 members? Many brands often incorrectly assume that their advocates only have a dozen or so social connections. The truth is that the average Superfan that joins a SocialToaster advocacy marketing program has around 500 – 600 connections.

This means that every individual your brand recruits into its advocacy marketing program adds another 500 individuals to the program’s potential reach. Even if only 100 people join your advocacy marketing efforts, that would still give the program an estimated reach of 50,000 friends and family.

Keep in mind that messages shared by your advocates aren’t throttled by the same organic reach-killing algorithm that handcuffs your official brand channel. Posts shared by your advocates are published to your advocates’ channels, meaning their organic reach is governed by a different set of rules.

 

Misconception #2:
You Can’t Measure the ROI of Your Advocacy Efforts

Many marketers may remember a similar myth from the opening days of social media marketing. The idea that you can’t measure the ROI of your efforts from your advocacy marketing efforts was wrong then and it’s flat-out wrong now.

Many brands choose to utilize Earned Media Value (EMV) as their ROI performance indicator of choice. EMV measures the total value (in dollars) of all the actions generated by your advocacy marketing efforts. Every tweet, share, and comment gets assigned a monetary value whose sum is calculated as your program’s EMV. The difference between the full cost of the program and the program’s earned media value is your advocacy marketing ROI.

Pro Tip: When selecting a platform to support your advocacy marketing efforts, be sure to choose a solution that makes it easy for you to calculate and view your EMV. The SocialToaster platform put your program’s EMV to date on the first page of your program dashboard so that it is one of the first metrics you see (alongside impressions and reach) when you log into your advocacy marketing program.

 

Misconception #3:
Advocacy Marketing Doesn’t Drive Sales

What’s that you say? Earned Media Value is great, but what your brand wants to see are more sales? Well buddy, you’re in luck because advocacy marketing is a sales-driving machine! Your advocates are a virtual sales army, helping to drive sales two different ways:

Direct Sales

Whether you’re an Ecommerce legend or a brick-and-mortar king, you can use your advocates to share content (product announcements, discount codes, etc.) that drive direct sales. A study by Accenture found that your Superfans generate between 12-18% more revenue for you then your non-advocates. Make it easy for your advocates to drive sales directly to your site by sharing content that gives your advocates’ friends and family a reason to buy from you the moment the message gets shared.

Indirect Sales

Not only can your advocates help push revenue into your pockets with direct sales, they can also assist in driving sales indirectly. That is, they can help your brand increase its awareness, consumer engagement, and trust over the long haul. While this might not have an immediate impact on your revenue, it does lead to mammoth lifts in revenue and sales over time.

Advocacy marketing is one of the most trusted forms of marketing. A study by Nielson found that 83% of global respondents say they somewhat or completely trust the recommendations of friends and family. In the B2B space, word-of-mouth recommendations carry even more weight with 91% of buyers saying they are influenced by WOM.

 

Misconception #4:
You Can’t Control What Your Advocates Say about Your Brand

Yet another rumor founded in falsehood. Sure, if your idea of advocacy marketing is to create a “Wild Wild West” scenario where you only give a little guidance and encourage your biggest fans to, “Do whatever man. It’s like totally your thing!”, you’re going to lose control of the message.

But this scenario isn’t a product of advocacy marketing. It’s a product of an inexperienced campaign manager. Bottom line, most advocacy marketing platforms (including SocialToaster) allow brands to rigidly set both the content that is being shared AND the post that is being published alongside that content.

We all know that word-of-mouth and advocacy marketing is effective; however, a recent study from Forbes and the American Marketing Association found that only 6% of marketing executives have mastered it. Don’t let these common misconceptions keep you from launching and refining your own advocacy marketing efforts.

Want to learn more about how advocacy marketing can help your brand? Start by scheduling a call with one of our advocacy marketing strategists today!