A new infographic from Dachis Group explains exactly how brand advocates deliver value and defines the six most common types of brand advocates marketers will encounter.

Exponential Influence

Although brand advocates (private individuals who promote your brand on socialmedia without compensation) make up a tiny fraction of everyone who participates in a brand’s online activities, their influence is felt exponentially. According to Dachis Group figures, brand advocates only represent .001% of active brand participants. However, they produce 5.3% of online activity relating to a brand, in turn driving 8.3% of online conversations about a brand and 8.4% of all social media activity around a brand.

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Brand Advocates: The Big 6

Here is a brief look at the six most common types of brand ambassadors as identified by Dachis Group:

  1. Brand Ambassador -- These “elite customers” advocate for a brand through their daily routine. Dachis Group advises getting actively involved with brand ambassadors by creating specific roles for them and providing them with social media tools.
  2. Brand Activist -- This type of social advocate takes their brand promotion offline to the “real world.” Dachis Group recommends motivating them to participate in real-life brand-building events.
  3. Marketing Partner -- These advocates want to actively participate in generating marketing ideas. Dachis Group says brands should let them.
  4. Licensed Informants -- Licensed informants have specific knowledge they use in conjunction with their advocacy. Brands should officially partner with them to promote specific behaviors among their non-expert peers.
  5. Reputation Managers -- These passionate individuals will go online to defend a brand when its reputation is publicly damaged or questioned. Dachis Group suggests alerting reputation managers ahead of public relations crises and providing them with data to use.
  6. Customer Service Rep -- Brands recruit these advocates to fill actual business roles. They should be incentivized to offer customer service assistance. 

Employees Can Also Be Advocates

In May 2012, Dachis Group released a solution called Employee Insights that includes a software tool and consulting services to help businesses speed adoption and improve monitoring of their employee advocacy programs. As explained by CMSWire, employee advocacy is a marketing concept that encourages businesses to leverage employees as brand advocates. Employees have deeper, more authentic connections to their networks than most companies are able to create. Companies can engage employees and use them as a resource to extend the reach of their marketing messages.

Learning Opportunities

The members of the employees network are likely to view the information as more reliable when it comes from a friend they view as a network. Experts in the strategy caution that companies should not make employee advocate programs mandatory, ensure that it’s a right fit for their organization and leverage gamification to improve participation. It should be fairly obvious to marketers that if both employees and customers are actively advocating a brand, that creates a powerful personal message that no precrafted promotional effort can match. 

Making the Case for a Formalized Social Advocate Program

In July 2012, social media expert Jeremiah Owyang helped Altimeter Group present a webinar on the pros and cons of creating a formalized social advocate program. While these programs can greatly improve brand awareness and reputation, Owyang also warns that “to gain scale and trust, companies must give up significant control and management to allow these advocates a platform to speak,” as well as that social advocacy programs “often put the advocates front and center, often before the brand.”

In conclusion, Owyang said social advocacy programs are not recommended for companies in their formative years, as “these programs impact all customer relationships spanning product teams, sales, marketing, corp comm, media and executives.” Companies with more advanced social media strategies that can “properly invest, sustain, and use advocate feedback to actually change products and services” are advised to pursue these programs.