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Brand advocates are among your most powerful promoters, so it makes sense that you’d want to make them feel nurtured and special. But your best customers and brand loyalists are also often the most informed about your products and services, including where they fall short and where there’s room for improvement and growth. If you’ve considered the benefits of a brand advocacy community and are ready to build one, follow these steps to help ensure everyone — your brand, its community members, and consumers who have yet to discover your offerings — can benefit.

Identify your goals for the community

Brands have a lot to gain from building their advocacy community, but your team will need to specify what the program is intended to achieve, both for members and your company. By starting with business objectives, you can then determine your advocacy goals.

Here are a few examples:

Objective 1: To increase brand awareness

Advocacy goal: Get community members to share more branded content on Facebook and Instagram

Objective 2: To increase sales

Advocacy goal: Obtain more high-quality referrals

Objective 3: To increase UGC assets

Advocacy goal: Increase testimonials, UGC content and reviews within the community

Your goals may evolve better to reflect the strategy and trajectory of your brand, so be sure to regularly measure and analyze the results of your advocacy community to ensure they’re still aligned with your updated goals and objectives.

Create a plan for engagement

“If you build it, they will come” might be true for first-time visits to your brand advocacy community, but to truly keep your members returning, you’ll need a solid plan to keep them engaged.

Engagement starts with understanding what your community members find beneficial or enjoyable.

Potential benefits might include:

  • Free products
  • Discounts
  • VIP/early access to events, deals, or new products
  • Free shipping
  • VIP newsletters

Enjoyment/fun might include:

  • Being involved in new product/service development
  • Quizzes
  • Games
  • Behind-the-scenes tours
  • Leaderboards displaying updated points as they accrue

Consider developing a point system through which brand advocates can earn rewards, like taking surveys, participating in focus groups, or serving as secret shoppers, to put toward products, discounts, free shipping, or gift cards.

Invite members to join your community

Simply announcing that you’ve launched a brand advocacy community isn’t enough. Take the time to personally invite your “best” customers, using their first names and identifying why they’ve been chosen to join the community.

Remember, your brand’s “best” customers don’t necessarily spend the most money on each transaction or even throughout the quarter. They may also be the most vocal promoters, most engaged followers on social media, or long-time customers who have been with your brand since its inception.

Don’t rule out inviting thought leaders, industry bloggers, writers, and other media personalities.

Get other teams involved

Your marketing team might be running the community, but advocacy efforts can affect (and benefit) other departments. Invite people from different company departments to provide input, such as customer service, sales, and product development.

Take the time to educate these teams about the plan for the brand advocacy community, including ways they may benefit from direct access to customers, surveys, or other feedback.

Share what you learn and how you’ll use it

If you’ve ever taken an interesting poll only to discover that the results weren’t available to participants, you understand how frustrating it can be to feel as though you’ve given away your time only to receive nothing in return.

Once you think of your brand advocacy community as a value-added extension of your company, you’ll understand the benefits of sharing insights with its members. Need some examples?

“Our survey about the color you’d most like to see in our spring line is lilac. We’re currently sourcing fabrics and will invite everyone who participated in the survey to get an exclusive look by January.”
“Thank you for the feedback from our community members. We heard your suggestions and are happy to report that free gift wrapping will be available to all members of this community for Mother’s Day orders.”
“Thank you to everyone who participated in the focus group regarding our new line of sauces. We learned that the community wants a vegan version, larger print on the label, and jars that are easier to open.”

When in doubt, focus on transparency, authenticity, and publicly appreciating your community members in a way that makes them feel valued, cherished and nourished.

Promote your community

Like your business, your advocacy community needs to grow to succeed. Too often, brands rely on “core” members, stagnating innovation without input from fresh voices.

Promote membership in your community on social media, through your website, or via email, inviting new customers and vocal loyalists to play a role in your brand’s development and growth by focusing on the benefits they’ll receive. You may even want to share a testimonial from one of your group’s members highlighting why they enjoy community involvement.

Follow these steps to plan, build, and grow your brand advocacy community. With the right engagement, you’ll create a win-win for your business and your customers.

Searching for an all-in-one advocate marketing platform? Check out Zuberance’s advocate software, designed to align seamlessly with your unique business model, customer journey, and technological infrastructure.

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Businesses leverage Zuberance to fuel their advocacy programs, integrating them into their overall marketing programs. The outcome? Lowered marketing expenses, enhanced customer engagement, improved retention rates, and most importantly, positive ROI.