Five steps to find, engage and maintain brand advocates

By Posted in - Grassroots Marketing & Public Relations on September 18th, 2012 2 Comments

This month’s issue of PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics magazine features a story on “8 ways to harness the power of grassroots advocacy.” The article offers suggestions on how to engage advocates to help shape policy, promote ideas and expand the influence of a candidate or organization.

Taking the ideas that author Bill Buff offered a step further, advocates can easily be a PR professional’s best marketing tool when spreading the word about a brand. They are on the ground level talking to their family, friends and acquaintances about their experiences with your products and services. When fans enjoy working with you, there is an endless opportunity for the spread of positive word of mouth communication.

Below are five steps I have found to be most effective when finding and empowering brand advocates, specifically using online tools:

  1. Identify your ideal advocate. What are the key characteristics of the person you see loving your company, product or service? Having an idea of the gender, age, lifestyle and interests of your target audience will help you develop messages that resonate with these individuals.
  2. Connect with other groups. Many industry associations maintain an online presence. Tap into Facebook groups and Twitter chats whose members are similar to your ideal advocate, and join the conversation. This is a great way to position your brand as an industry expert and inform potential advocates about your products or services.
  3. Prepare your messages. Choose to only share information that is valuable to your fans and followers. Planning your posts in advance is a great tactic to stay organized and consistent, but leave room for spur-of-the-moment news and conversations.
  4. Offer a variety of options for interaction. Allow your advocates to connect with your brand through several outlets, giving them the freedom to choose how they engage with you. Examples can include: following on social media; downloading your company’s app; participating in a promotion or product giveaway; or signing up for your newsletter.
  5. Earn (and keep) their trust. Advocates will stop supporting your company if you don’t continue to be an active, beneficially resource. Address their questions and issues quickly and with sincerity. The best way to keep a fan is to care about each one as an individual and express concern about their experience with your brand.

Let’s continue the conversation about brand advocates and grassroots efforts. What steps do you follow to find, engage and maintain your brand’s loyal following?


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  • Dennis O’Malley -

    September 20, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    Hi Caitlin – great article. We have seen that natural advocacy is expressed in many different ways, privately, publicly, visually, using any channel the customer chooses, mobile, social, live. What I think is key here is that advocacy is not discovered in a survey, but but understanding consumer behavior and expression. The best performing brands allow their advocates to express their brand enthusiasm in a natural manner in the channel of their choosing versus a rating scale. The challenge for brands is how to identify, curate, and leverage that advocacy, and smart brands would be wise to work with pros like you 🙂

  • Caitlin -

    September 21, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Hi, Dennis – Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You’re right, the best way for brands to identify and empower their advocates is to reach them where they already are, offering them tools to express their passion in their own way. Thanks again for the interaction!

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