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Taco Tuesday: Neighborhood Advocacy in Action

I was part of Word of Mouth (WOM) and Brand Advocacy (more like Taco Advocacy) long before I truly understood what these terms meant. When I was in high school, my friend, Nate Kristoff’s family had everyone and their mothers over for tacos every Tuesday afternoon. Believe me when I say everyone and their mothers.

What started out as a small, weekly tradition for families and friends, grew into something larger as unknown members of the Marin Catholic High School community were encouraged to go to the Kristoff’s for swimming and tacos once a week.

I remember my first Taco Tuesday. My friend John always talked about it and insisted I go. He was constantly spreading his taco excitement by recruiting newcomers. Hardly anyone knew me my first time, but the genuine hospitality the Kristoff’s displayed not only made me feel welcome, it made me come back multiple times—often with a guest of my own. Five years later, Taco Tuesday still thrives.

The Advocacy wiz might already see the relevant marketing mechanisms at work in my story. But for the rest of you, let’s break down my experience.

  • Taco Tuesday and the hospitality of the Kristoff family created highly satisfied guests and enthusiastic Advocates.
  • Taco Tuesday grew quickly because Taco Tuesday Advocates (like John) recommended Taco Tuesday to others in the community.
  • John and other Taco Tuesday Advocates were trusted sources as they weren’t incentivized by the Kristoff’s in any way—it was genuine advocacy at work.

Now, in this case, Taco Tuesday and community bonding at the Kristoff’s wasn’t about dollar signs; but imagine if it was. Kristoff Tacos could have been commoditized and sold for a profit, and with all the other elements of my story in place, you can guess what would have happened. If you’re thinking soaring sales, you are on the right track.

The WOM for Taco Tuesday occurred offline. But what if Taco Tuesday Advocates like John were given the means to spread their excitement via Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, or email?

These ideas and their value are seemingly obvious, but marketers and business owners should go beyond simply hanging a “write us a review on Yelp” sign in their store windows. Instead, marketers should be systematically identifying Brand Advocates, giving them the tools to spread the word quickly and conveniently, and tracking the boost in sales that are surely to come.

-Beau Cowan, Marketing Coordinator, Zuberance

Making the Case for a Formalized Social Advocacy Program: Altimeter Webinar Takeaways

If you are thinking about running a Social Advocacy Program for your business, I’m sure you have some questions. Is such a program right for my business? What goes into building and maintaining a Social Advocacy Program? What are the risks? Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang recently hosted a webinar on Social Advocacy Programs. View the recording on Slideshare.

1. Why should we consider Social Advocacy Programs?

  • Social Networking is the most popular online activity. This is where your customers are spending their time, but companies can’t keep up with customer dialogue. 41% of social business programs are merely reactive.
  • Companies know that they aren’t always trusted. Trust is among peers. Customers trust people like themselves—other customers. Customers are often skeptical of business executives and marketers.
  • The most advanced companies are the ones that leverage customers. Forward-thinking marketers are energizing their Brand Advocates to drive positive Word of Mouth, leads, and sales across industries including hospitality, health and fitness, software, and more.

2. What do Social Advocacy Programs look like? What are their characteristics?

  • They consist of trusted members of the community. Advocates are enthusiastic customers who are not incentivized nor employed by the businesses they promote.
  • Advocates represent brands' products and lifestyles. Advocates often embody the essence behind a brand.
  • Advocates are invited into companies as key stakeholders. TurboTax’s InnerCircle program gave Advocates the opportunity to submit and vote on software ideas.
  • Advocates are rewarded through recognition, access, and community. Microsoft’s MVP Program recognized Advocates by giving them the title, "MVP." The MVP Global summit, an annual conference made up of Microsoft’s most enthusiastic customers, shows how advanced these advocacy programs can get.
  • Advocates may defend brands during times of crisis. The Walmart Moms Program is made up of mom (and dad) bloggers who frequently defend Walmart when the mega corp. is under heavy scrutiny.

3. What is the Social Advocacy Program tradeoff?

4. What are the best practices for my Social Advocacy Program?

  • Get ready internally. Articulate a program charter and take care of the legal side of things. For example, Advocates might need to consent to terms of agreement to show they know they won’t share revenue with the business they advocate for.
  • Identify Advocates. Jeremiah suggests to create a portfolio mix aligned with program goals that might have to do with certain brands, demographics, customer lifecycles, products, lifestyles, or work styles. Another more direct way to identify Advocates is to simply ask your customers how likely they are to recommend your brand.
  • Build Relationships. So many advocacy programs start with real face-to-face interactions. Fiskar’s Fiskateers lead the “United States of Fiskateers” which consisted of local craft meet-ups nationwide.
  • Amplify Voices. Give your Advocates the tools to share their excitement about your brand and make it easy for them to do so. Provide them with opportunities to write reviews, create testimonials, share content, answer prospects' questions, and more.
  • Foster Growth. Your Advocates crave engagement.  Involve them across all your marketing initiatives as they are eager and willing to help you amplify your message.

6. What is the most important thing I need to know about Social Advocacy Programs?

  • These Programs aren’t about your brand. They are about your Advocates and putting your Advocates in front of your brand is necessary to establish trust amongst your customers. Trust is the underlying mechanism at work with Social Advocacy Programs that cause sales to skyrocket.

-Beau Cowan, Marketing Coordinator, Zuberance