jeremiah owyang

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


Mapping the Dynamic Customer Journey to Seafood Heaven

Altimeter's Jeremiah Owyang recently blogged about the complicated path that consumers now take to reach a purchase decision which he calls the “Dynamic Customer Journey.” He describes this phenomenon as a “…disruptive theme as consumers being able to use many sources, devices, and mediums at any given time, giving them more options and choices. The result? Consumers are enabled to have a unique path each time, making it harder to predict. This means the experience becomes increasingly fragmented for the brand, as they struggle to reach consumers across all these choices of sources, mediums, and channels.” Let me explain how our CEO, Rob Fuggetta, and I decided where to get dinner on a business trip to Chicago and you’ll see what I mean.

On our way from the airport to the hotel, Rob said he was in the mood for some good seafood, specifically oysters, so I whipped out my iPhone to do some research. I googled "Best Oysters Chicago" and clicked on a list of restaurants on Yelp which I looked over briefly based on the their star ratings. Once we checked into Hotel Palomar, we consulted the concierge who narrowed it down to three different restaurants for us. Then we headed to the hotel bar where we had a drink and ran these suggestions by the bartender who enthusiastically recommended we go to GT Fish and Oyster. (He also made sure to mention the "aggressively douchey" bars we should avoid. Thanks, man!)

We looked up GT Fish and Oyster’s menu on my phone, decided we’d found the winner, and we were off to a delicious meal. Once we arrived, I checked in on Foursquare and read through tips that other diners had left. One said “Dynamite fish tacos!” so of course I had to try them. We had some amazing oysters and fish tacos, accompanied with great service. We left full and happy and even got some free hot sauce made by the restaurant!

So looking back on our Dynamic Customer Journey, we had consulted:

1)    Google

2)    Yelp

3)    Hotel Concierge

4)    Hotel Bartender

5)    Restaurant’s website

6)    Foursquare

And this decision was just where to eat dinner! Think of how complicated the customer journey can be for high ticket items like TV's, cars, or computer software purchases.

What this means for brands:

Brands should map out each and every route of the potential customer journey and not only be present at all these touch points, but take it a step further by energizing your best customers (AKA Brand Advocates) to share their opinions where prospects are lurking. Brand Advocates’ recommendations are authentic, trusted, and highly influential in the era of the empowered consumer.

Panel Discussion: The Future of Social Media in 2010

Rob Fuggetta, Founder & CEO of Zuberance, will join a distinguished panel of social media experts including Jeremiah Owyang to discuss the future of social media at an event hosted by the Silicon Valley American Marketing Association (SVAMA) on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010. The event is open to the public and will be held at Adobe, East Tower, Park Room, 345 Park Avenue in San Jose. Please visit us here for more information and to register for the event

Here is a quick taste for what's to come in the Future of Social Media Expert Panel:

Millions of consumers and businesses have integrated social media into their daily routines. Fuggetta and panelists at the SVAMA event will discuss how social media will change in 2010, what’s working in social media (and what isn’t); and where the latest social media trends are headed.

“We’re delighted that Rob Fuggetta of Zuberance is among the distinguished panelists who will be participating in our event,” said Alex Littlewood, president of the SVAMA. “Zuberance is on the cutting edge of social media, enabling leading brands to identify and mobilize their Advocates to drive measurable business results. Rob’s unique understanding of how to leverage social technologies to drive business results will provide both an insightful and practical perspective,” Littlewood added.