One of the most valuable returns of the social media proliferation is the renewed fervor around Brand Advocacy. The truly remarkable thing about Brand Advocates is that they proactively recommend brands and products without getting paid…but if they are not getting paid, then what is their motivator for advocacy? The #1 reason Brand Advocates recommend brands and products is that they want to help others (source: “Engaging Advocates Through Search and Social Media,” comScore, Yahoo!, Dec. 2006). In other words, there is an emotional component to their advocacy. The emotional component is not just important for Brand Advocates and their social graph, it is also key to the marketer and brand relationship with their Brand Advocates. If you can make an emotional connection with your consumer, that will go far in building long-term advocacy.
Empathize with your consumers’ frustrations, celebrate their successes, and give them memorable experiences when they interact with or around your brand. Show you’re human by sharing, caring, and interacting. Ask your Advocates questions, then respond to their answers and respond every time and listen, then ask them more questions and respond again. If you want to see what that looks like in action, follow me on twitter (@TedRubin).
There is a catch. You actually need to CARE about your consumers, or all of the actions I just listed will yield very little, if any, emotional connection. Even though you don’t actually know or interact with many of your consumers as individuals, you still need to treat them as though you already have an emotional connection with them. That perspective is what will encourage you, as a brand/marketer, to be even more attentive and responsive… and your consumers WILL notice and WILL love you for it.
Add the emotional connection… it will enhance your relationship and insure long-term advocacy.
-Ted Rubin, Social Media Strategist