As any smart business owner today will tell you, Facebook isn’t just a means of viewing pictures of your former classmate. It’s a powerful tool that can not only help establish your brand’s identity, but also expand and grow your business exponentially. The beauty of Facebook as a marketing tool is its duality. While providing the opportunity to reach a large audience, it also possesses the ability to speak to each customer individually. In doing so, you connect with your customers in a way that not only makes them feel they are appreciated, but transforms them into a virtual marketing partner for your brand. However, simply getting a customer to “like” your business on Facebook is only the first step in the process. “Likes” are nice, but you need to find a way to entertain and attract each customer so that he or she will shout your praises from the mountaintops. In doing so, you have created a brand advocate.
What is a brand advocate?
Simply stated, a brand advocate (BA) is a customer or person who proactively talks about your brand/product in a favorable way, and passes on positive word of mouth messages to his or her network about your brand. However, the most valuable part to a business owner is it doesn’t cost a dime. Can you imagine an entire sales force and/or advertisers that are willing to work for free? They are out there! And while they have a wide reach, they are also incredibly influential. They are Brand Advocates.
Brand advocates will write testimonials, discuss your brand online and off, and share your content, ultimately increasing your reach. Let’s assume you truly have a great business or product. The challenge is, creating brand content that engages your potential BAs and motivating them to either share it, or better yet, translate it into their own voice. This can open you to potentially thousands of new fans, but more importantly, new customers.
How do I find and engage a brand advocate?
- Figure out who your customer is, and what motivates them. It may be different for every business, but it’s critical to remember, they are human. And as such, each possesses the basic desire to be loved, and a longing to feel connected. Facebook provides you the opportunity and ability to accomplish both. Recognize the touch points of your business and use this as a chance to encourage your patrons to visit and like your Facebook page. It may be as simple as sign on your door, or a sticker on your packaging. But once they have “liked” your business and you have them engaged, the real work begins.
- Look at your customer as someone you have just begun dating. The “like” indicates they already have a positive impression, and are willing to continue going out with you. At this point, it is pivotal to find a way to stay on top of their mind, and engender a desire to continue interacting. You must find a way to provide content that both encourages and provides them the opportunity to share. Make it easy to do so. Have links on your website that make for easy sharing. “Pin it”, “Tweet” and “Share” buttons are easy to use and provide the chance for them to become an active participant in creating the buzz for your brand.
- Ask them questions. This increases their desire to share and connect. Now, listen to what they say and use this information to make future decisions. For example, if you ask your fans which dish on the menu they enjoy most, and there is an overwhelming response for tuna tartare, perhaps you should make this a discounted or featureditem on the menu for a month. But most of all let your fans know you made this decision because of them! Or if you ask which of your product line is their favorite, offer a discount on the most popular response for a week. Announce it, and thank them for their input. Simple positive words and phrases go a long way. “You asked, and we listened!” “Thank you,” “You are awesome,” “We <3 that you are an amazing fan, Laura!” “You rock, Greg!” You always want to use a tone and voice appropriate for your brand/business, but acknowledge their interaction, let them know you appreciate their input, and continue the engagement. Ask, listen, validate! In addition, show appreciation by offering rewards and “compensate” fans for referring new customers. This will only encourage them to do more.
- Create branded content that will entice people to share it. If your content is funny, relevant, insightful, or engaging, not only will your fans continue to check in to see what you have to say and offer, but they will share this information with family and friends. This can be powerful for a few key reasons. Some of my clients wonder why their posts to fans that are one to two lines of text do not receive many comments. Often times what they are saying fails to spark any interest in their fans to interact. This is a missed opportunity. If you look closely, you’ll notice when viewing friend’s daily status updates, you see only one or two of the brands they like continue showing up in your newsfeed. The reason is Facebook uses an algorithm that determines what content will show up in someone’s newsfeed. The more likes, comments, and sharesthe post receives, the more likely it is to show up on the news-feeds of your fans.
But what if someone posts something negative about my brand or business?
- Don’t panic! It is not too late to turn a “hater” into a like, and ultimately a BA. Negative posts, comments, or poor shared experiences shared on Facebook are a valuable opportunity. In years past, a business owner may not even be aware of a customer’s poor experience, and their negative messages could become widespread. A negative image of your brand could be festering without your knowledge. But with Facebook, this brand detractor is identified, and their issue is clearly stated. Best part is, it is typically something that can be addressed and corrected. The beauty of this is that it is done in plain sight for everyone else to see. Some of my clients have told me they think it’s best to delete these comments. This is a wasted opportunity! Even when the review disappears, the sentiment remains and lingers in the mind and mouth of the detractor.
- If you can find a way to turn this negative experience into a positive, you can now “wow” someone who once thought your brand was worthless. If they took the time and energy to voice their displeasure, odds are they are more likely to vocalize how you righted their wrong, and facilitated a better client experience. This positive share is now spread to their entire network of friends and family, and this goodwill is infectious and can spread to their network.
Here is an example of one of my client’s (restaurant owner) embracing this notion:
“…Not only was the service slow, but also my favorite chicken dish was very disappointing. I doubt I will be back.”
” I am so sorry to hear about your experience. Please allow us to make it up to you. We would love for you to come back and we will treat you to your favorite dish and dessert!”
” I didn’t think I would hear back from anyone at the restaurant. I will take you up on your offer. Thanks!”
One week later
“I just got home from dinner and I must say the food was absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for inviting me back. I know I will be back again.”
-Your new Brand Advocate
Facebook: The birthplace of Brand Advocates
As you embark on the endeavor of leveraging
· Learn about your customer and find out what motivates them
· Entice them to interact with you; stay top of mind
· Share engaging, entertaining, and relevant content
· Show love to your loyal “likes,” but even more importantly, address and embrace the “dislikes,” they are brand advocates in the making.
Ultimately, even the greatest Facebook content can’t help a weak brand, service, or product. Your Facebook presence alone won’t make your business successful. However, if done right it can enrich and underscore what already is a great brand. Furthermore, once you have established an operation that truly is superior, Facebook can only help by dispatch thousands of individuals that are determined to tell such to the world. By paying attention to the ideas above, you will find that what once started as a simple business/client relationship can blossom into a full blown, long-lasting love-fest that can grow your bottom line.