Brands are just as excited about connecting with their Advocates

 Andrea Syrtash is a relationship expert and author of the book “He’s Just Not Your Type and That’s a Good Thing” and the upcoming “Cheat on Your Husband with Your Husband.”

At the Zuberance event “How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales” I asked Syrtash how her Brand Advocates have gone out of their way to help her sell her book.

Syrtash said getting Brand Advocates to promote her book was never done intentionally. She was simply looking for like-minded people that wanted to connect with her. But since doing that, her fans are fully responsible for getting their friends to come out to see her during her book tour.

One great moment came when someone tweeted a nice comment about Syrtash’s book. Syrtash was so touched that she followed the fan back and thanked her. Syrtash’s fan was so excited that the author reached out and started following her on Twitter. The feeling was mutual. Syrtash was equally excited.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

Paul Dunay: Give Brand Advocates special access [VIDEO] #NYBAS

Paul Dunay of Networked Insights can’t imagine a world in which Brand Advocates read about a company’s new product in a press release. If you’ve connected with your Advocates in the social spaces, that’s where they should hear about it.

It’s counter intuitive to not give them special access to information. It’s important to foster that special relationship.

Most companies don’t think to do this, but you need to, and you should fight internally to get the right to do this. Dunay remembers at one past company he did have to fight with corporate communications, but ultimately got the right to invite the company’s Advocates to a webinar that announced the new product before the press release came out.

He likens his story to the famous Universal Theme Park case (Dunay accidentally mentioned Disney) in which the theme park invited a handful of select Harry Potter bloggers to get a sneak webinar preview of the new attraction “Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” This exclusive blogger preview was their first step. They could have gone with any type of expensive advertising push which they inevitably did. But they chose first to reach out to Harry Potter Advocates who were also influencers. The smart move translated into an eventual reach of 350 million people.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

Build a relationship with an Advocate like you would with a friend #NYBAS

For so long brands have operated on this model of selling and showing product, explained Avi Savar, Founder of Big Fuel at the New York Brand Advocacy Series event he co-sponsored with Zuberance at his offices.

Brand Advocates can’t be bullied into liking your product. You need to create a relationship with them. That can often come from just having a great product, great customer service, or both.

If you want Brand Advocates, you need to shift your communications from a “Show me/Sell me” model to a “Help me/Entertain me” model, said Savar. Building a relationship with a customer to turn them into a Brand Advocate is no different than building a relationship with a friend.

The best way to create engagement with customers is through social and digital platforms, Savar suggested. Content drives conversation and advocacy. It is a commodity which can be leveraged on behalf of a brand. Audiences are engaged by content especially when delivered in the right context.

If you do it right, you can build a relationship with the customer for life, said Savar.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

How JetBlue built long lasting relationships on their 10th birthday #NYBAS

If you want to make an impact on someone, and be memorable, do something unexpected and delightful. For example, what if you were to give away gifts on your birthday?

That’s exactly what JetBlue did on its 10th anniversary, as JetBlue's Corporate Communications Manager, Morgan Johnston, explains in this video. With a dash of social media ingenuity and P.T. Barnum showmanship, they created a series of spontaneous flash mobs around Manhattan with their birthday card/air ticket give away. Just through Twitter, they announced that they would hand anyone a free ticket on JetBlue to anyone who walked up to them with a birthday card (while supplies lasted of course). Within 15 minutes, JetBlue had 400 people with birthday cards lined up to receive free tickets.

Over the day they gave away 1000 tickets. People were so touched by this delightful and generous offer that they tweeted out their experience as well. JetBlue in turn tracked these users from their tweets to the flights they ended up taking. This allowed them to engage with users on a very deep level, following up with them to see how their trip went.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

How do you convert a passive fan of your brand into an Advocate? #NYBAS

After moderating a fantastic event "How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales" in NYC, I asked Abbey Klaassen, editor of AdAge, what she thinks the trick is to convert a passive fan into an active brand advocate. Someone who goes out of their way to tell everyone how wonderful your product is.

Klaassen said a great way to convert fans to advocates is to simply delight them in completely unexpected ways.

As an example, she told a great story of receiving a free burrito at a Chipolte restaurant. Klaassen had always been a customer and a passive fan of the chain of Mexican restaurants, but one day, out of the blue, she received this special unexpected treat. A free burrito!

It was an element of surprise and delight that took Klaassen off guard in a positive way. The net result is she came back to her office and told everyone about it. "I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I like it," said Klaassen.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

Microsoft knows that their customers sell their product better than they do #NYBAS

After a couple of admitted missteps in social media, Microsoft is shifting its strategy to focus on communications with influencers and Advocates, admitted Umang Shah, Social Media Strategist for Microsoft.

With more than 20 million customers in the SMB space, it’s impossible for Microsoft to reach everyone. Just a year ago, they had channels of activity that were all semi-active and not integrated at all. Now they’ve stepped back and built an overarching strategy for their SMB customers and their partners, said Shah.

It’s important that Microsoft be very strategic about going after the right people in their community. So that’s why they asked Zuberance to help them identify their Advocates among their customers and partners. In addition, they’re identifying influencers as well, which are not the same audience as Advocates. Since shifting focus to a more narrow and integrated strategy, Microsoft is seeing a lot more influencers and Advocates participating in their community. That’s critical for their success.

As Shah admits, it’s far better to have an Advocate or influencer say Microsoft has a great product, than if Microsoft says it.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

How Do You Energize Brand Advocates? #NYBAS

Zuberance was built on the belief (and hard data to back it up) that your Advocates are your best sales force. While companies often wisely incentivize their sales staff, that’s not a good idea for your Advocates. An Advocate is someone who has already raised their hand and said they’re willing to recommend your product. You don’t need to, nor should you, provide any incentive.

Although, having someone say they’re willing to recommend you, and actually do it are two very different things. Once they say they’re an Advocate, how do you energize them to actually engage with you and make a recommendation? At the Zuberance event “How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales” in NYC on May 17, 2011, I asked the attendees and panelists, “How do you energize word of mouth?” Here are their answers.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

Recap: New York Brand Advocacy Series- How to Turn Social Media into Sales #NYBAS

Last week, we teamed up with Big Fuel and brought the Brand Advocacy Series to New York where top marketers discussed “How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales.” The panel provided attendees with insights on the value of brand advocacy and what companies like JetBlue, Microsoft, and Kotex are doing to energize Word of Mouth.

Watch live streaming video from zuberance at livestream.com

Featured Panel:

  • Moderated by: Abbey Klaassen, Digital Editor, Advertising Age (@amklaassen)
  • Rob Fuggetta, Founder/CEO, Zuberance (@robfuggetta)
  • Avi Savar, Founder, Big Fuel (@avisavar)
  • Umang Shah, Social Strategiest, Microsoft (@umang_shah)
  • Morgan Johnston, Corporate Communication Manager, JetBlue (@MHJohnston)

View photos from the event on the Zuberance Facebook Page.

Watch on-site interviews with panelists and attendees (you can find more videos on our YouTube channel, ZubeTV):

Key Takeaways

  • An Advocate is someone who recommends brands or products without being paid to do so. Use the"Ultimate Question" to identify Advocates: "How likely are you to recommend our brand to your friends and colleagues?" Someone who scores 9 or 10 on a scale from 1 to 10 is an Advocate.
  • JetBlue conducts surveys, looks at email, and discussions in social media. They all add up to create the “Voice of the Customer.”
  • Influencers and Advocates are not the same. Advocates are consumers that don’t necessarily have to be bloggers, but within their own social circles they’re very influential. But having an influencer be an Advocate for your brand is the ideal situation because they recommend in a genuine way and have significant reach.
  • 92% trust WOM from their peers, but only 18% trust bloggers. Nothing is more influential than people you know.
  • JetBlue: We want everyone to be a promoter of our company regardless of how many people are following you.
  • JetBlue: We saw 13 million of media dollars generated from doing the “All you can fly in a month” campaign. The community that formed through this campaign organized a party in Vegas (on their own) where over 200 people attended. Jetblue thanked the community by showing up to the Vegas party with boxes of sweatshirts. JetBlue didn’t do anything more than set up and host the community. They didn’t do anything necessarily to “juice” it.
  • Zuberance is dead set against giving incentives to get people to recommend. While it’s NOT OK to incentivize advocates, it IS OK to thank them after recommending your brand.
  • The key to energizing Advocates is to make it easy for them to recommend.
  • Content drives conversation and the right content can drive the conversation you want.
  • Microsoft: Advocates are invaluable to us. We don’t have the influence that an advocate has. We simply can’t have the same impact as an advocate. Coming from Microsoft will never be as impactful.
  • How do you get people to talk about sensitive subjects? Answer is the engagement point, where the brand and the consumer meet. Connect with them on something that’s important to them. Example: Kotex fits, period. It’s about “what fits you.” So it was about taking the issue personal. What was important to the young woman.
  • "The 6am Test” – What’s important to consumers when they wake up? Be relevant to your audience on their agenda? Leverage the interests and behaviors of the people you’re talking to. Understand the person you’re talking to before you engage.
  • You have to earn the right to monetize. You do that through engagement.

Listen (or download the audio) of the podcast discussion here.

The ongoing confusion between Advocates and influencers #NYBAS

An Advocate is not necessarily an influencer, and vice versa.

Bob Knorpp is frustrated with how Advocates and influencers are being dialed up and quantified by so many rating systems. The host of the marketing podcast The BeanCast and AdAge Outlook doesn’t think we can reduce advocates and influencers to a set of metrics.

Between Advocates and influencers we’re suffering a bad case of terms being mixed. To avoid the desire to hang onto a Klout score to mean anything about influence and advocacy is misdirected. The goal is to see how the person is connecting with your brand and community. Is their influence and/or advocacy real?

While I was in complete agreement with Knorpp, we have sadly seen people put too much stock in influencer scores and also try to equate that influence to advocacy for your product or brand solely because you happen to be in the same category for which that influencer has influence.

-David Spark, Social Media Journalist, Spark Media Solutions

Watch Online Today at 6:30 EST: How to Turn Social Media into Sales #NYBAS

Today Zuberance and Big Fuel are hosting a social media panel in New York at the Big Fuel HQ on "How to Turn Word of Mouth and Social Media into Sales." We will be streaming the panel live online here on the Zuber Rants blog, so make sure to come back TODAY at 3:30pm PT/6:30pm ET! Join the conversation on Twitter now using #NYBAS!

To attend the event in person, register here.

Featured Panel:

It's the $64,000 question: "Can social media and Word of Mouth marketing make me money?" We see examples of it happening all the time, but no one seems to be offering up any prescriptive solutions. Is there a formula for employing social media to drive measurable increases in qualified leads, traffic, and sales? The good news is that there are answers!

Join us and learn about:

  • Energizing Brand Advocates: How to harness your brand's fans into a powerful marketing channel
  • Real-World Case Studies: How leading brands are leveraging WOM and social media to drive customer acquisition
  • Measuring ROI: How to measure the ROI of WOM and social media
  • Best Practices: The do's and don'ts of effective WOM and social media marketing

Remember to come back and visit us at 3:30 PT/6:30 ET!

-Cara Fuggetta, Marketing Manager, Zuberance