Digital clutter has become a real problem, rendering traditional media and even digital advertising less effective. If you want to grow your brand's presence and increase trust online, you need to invest in brand advocates.
A brand advocate is an individual who organically promotes your product. They advocate on your behalf because they believe in the quality of your brand, not because they’re paid to promote you.
You can (and definitely should) leverage the power of brand advocates to grow your company without coming off as self-promotional. Advocates work for your brand 24/7, bringing you new customers, boosting your credibility and helping you edge out the competition.
Find your advocates
Why sell yourself when your devoted customers will sell for you? Use these smart strategies to create loyal brand advocates to grow your brand.
1. Build a community.
Our world might be digitized, but we still crave human connection. The best way to forge genuine relationships with potential advocates is through creating an online community.
Communities support your audience by giving them an online family. Over time, the emotion behind community-building converts your customers into loyal brand advocates.
Follow these guidelines before creating your community of loyal followers:
Identify the community you want: Advocate communities don't just appear out of thin air. You have to be intentional about how you set up the community. Decide what will bring your followers together, whether it's a charity, social movement, hobbies or support. Make sure this is in line with your brand and your offerings.
Do some recon: See what other online communities are doing and how they operate. Join the communities if you can, noting what aspects you want to use in your own community.
Participate: A community is nothing without a leader. That's why brands have to participate in their communities every single day. Answer questions, start conversations and always reply promptly.
Take it offline: You can have wonderful conversations online, but to truly build relationships, your community needs a little face time. Host offline events for your community to connect with each other. Host workshops, conferences or hip gatherings to give your members a space to chat.
2. Empower employees.
We focus so much on growing customers into brand advocates. But every business has an even better advocate hiding right under their noses: your employees! Every single employee in your organization should be a brand advocate.
And not because you tell them they should be an advocate. Your customer experience, mission and culture should be one that automatically encourages employees to advocate for your brand. Happy employees mean you have a willing force of individuals ready to sell your brand any time, day or night.
If you want employees to become brand advocates, empower them. When they feel like they have skin in the game, they can grow and find purpose in their work, leading to increased satisfaction and, ultimately, brand advocacy.
3. Connect with influencers.
If you want to reach thousands of people without a huge budget, look no further than influencer marketing. Influencers give you access to their readymade audience. When an influencer advocates for your brand, there's a higher likelihood you'll find more customers and even more excited brand advocates in a short amount of time.
Influencer marketing is more subtle than other forms of marketing, and that's why it works so well. They give their audiences content that both entertains and solves their problems – without the hard sales pitch. Use the influencer's credibility to connect with new audiences in your niche.
4. Maintain existing relationships.
Let's say you’ve put in some elbow grease and you have a tribe of dedicated brand advocates. Congratulations!
However, this isn’t the end of the road. Relationships are the backbone of advocacy. You have to continually support your advocate relationships to keep the spark alive. Use these tips to keep your brand advocates engaged for a long-term relationship:
Provide outstanding content: Regularly provide blogs, videos, podcasts and more that give your advocates value. Remember to involve your advocates in the content process, sharing their reviews and stories.
Acknowledge milestones: Just like any other relationship, it's important to remember significant dates. Check in with brand advocates on their birthday or send them an award for mentioning your brand on social media. A little acknowledgment goes a long way, boosting their emotional connection to your brand.
Inner circle access: Everybody wants to feel special! Give your advocates the insider access they crave. Use loyalty programs that give advocates early access to deals, contests, and freebies. These experiences make them feel valued and appreciated, which encourages even more brand advocacy down the line.
The bottom line
Stop fighting tooth and nail to get more exposure for your brand. Leverage the power of brand advocates through communities, empowering employees, working with influencers and keeping the spark alive with your existing advocates. The result will be a growing group of people who rave about your brand, and that's worth its weight in gold.
As a business owner or manager, you want your team to be productive. There are literally thousands of tools out there that claim to boost the productivity of individuals and teams, but very few deliver on the promise.
Below are seven tools that I use every day that have helped me and my team stay productive.
1. Slack: Slack is perfect for any team but more so for teams with remote workers or contractors. It centralizes all of your team's critical communication into one app and integrates with tools you already use. Setting up Slack is easy and using it is even easier. It's your virtual office, and using Slack is almost like being the same room with your co-workers.
2. Skype: Skype is a communication and collaboration tool that combines video, voice and text chat. Skype keeps you connected with your entire team for free. If your team size is small, Skype can be a great tool for communicating with team members. You can include up to nine people in a call. You can also buy Skype credits or a subscription to call others on their phone or forward calls to your phone. In any business, there are times when you need to call someone directly. A Skype credit can be handy for those situations. It can reduce your long distance and international calling costs significantly.
3. Asana: With Asana, you can organize to-do lists, projects and meeting information, conversations, and emails in an easy-to-read dashboard. Team members can stay on top of all information, allowing you to quickly identify issues that need attention. Asana is especially useful for distributed teams as team members are able to stay in touch with the rest of the team. Asana is free for teams up to 15 members. You can get access to all features like data export and additional dashboards by upgrading to a paid plan.
4. HiveDesk: Time is money, and every business needs to track employee time and productivity. HiveDesk is an automatic time-tracking software application. You can set up projects and assign employees (or yourself) to these projects. Employees or contract workers first download the app. Once the employee logs in, the software will start tracking their time. It can also record screenshots in case you need it to back up the time sheets. The best part is the productivity reports that help you understand how productive you and your team have been. HiveDesk can be especially useful in tracking the time of consultants (or those who work remotely) and cross-checking their invoices. If your business bills clients hours, HiveDesk can be very handy for both tracking the time spent on a project and backing up the invoice with screenshots.
5. Dropbox: Whether you want to keep your personal files in one place or share files with your global team, Dropbox is your solution. Files on Dropbox are backed up and synced, and can be accessed from a desktop computer, mobile device or laptop. Your important data and documents are always with you.
6. DocuSign: DocuSign is transaction management software. It provides a simple and secure way to electronically sign documents and collect signatures from others. It eliminates the cost and hassles of printing, signing, scanning and sending documents electronically. It saves a lot of time and is super easy to use. If you hire contractors or consultants, you can use DocuSign to streamline the process of signing the paperwork. No more hassles and costs of physically shipping documents for signature. You can also link DocuSign with your Gmail account to open documents in DocuSign.
7. Groove: Groove is a customer support collaboration application. With Groove, you can collaborate on all your customer emails, social media posts, chats and calls together in one place.