What Is a Brand Advocate? Plus How To Use Brand Advocacy

Updated February 3, 2023

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Brand advocacy is a tool you can use to authentically engage with an audience and draw interest to your brand. If you're a marketing professional, understanding what brand advocates are and how they're useful may help you increase visibility and establish meaningful connections with potential customers.

In this article, we discuss what a brand advocate is, the benefits of working with a brand advocate and how to use brand advocacy in marketing, and we share strategies to measure and improve brand advocacy.

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What is a brand advocate?

A brand advocate is a person who uses various methods and types of content to promote a brand to its ideal consumer market. Anyone with a positive view of a business or product can be a brand advocate, including a company's employees, business partners, influencers or customers. For example, it's common for a company's clients to promote and advocate for a brand they believe in based on the brand's high-quality products and customer care. Similarly, if employees of a corporation continually post on social media about how much they enjoy working there, it may build trust with potential customers.

Many companies grow exponentially because of brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing. Brand advocacy is important because it allows a company to grow naturally and with minimal cost, especially if consumers or employees act as brand advocates on their own, unprompted. Advocacy can build trust and long-lasting bonds with customers, which is one of the most credible forms of advertising.

Related: Company Reputation: What It Is and How To Improve It

Benefits of brand advocacy

Successful brand advocacy has many benefits, including:

  • Visibility: Brand advocates can make publications and media outlets more aware of a brand and could gain the attention of social media influencers who can further spread the brand to a wider audience. Brand advocacy also creates a public record of how efficient your goods and services are through positive reviews and testimonies.

  • Efficiency: Brand advocates can be a simple and affordable way to grow a brand, so they save you time and help you manage your marketing budget. This may allow you to focus on paid advertisements and enable small or new teams to reach their goals more easily.

  • Growth: These individuals may help you grow a consumer base that increases revenue, allowing you to invest in more sophisticated brand advocacy initiatives. They may also help you find new audiences that may not be in the target market.

  • Customer relationships: Brand advocacy helps you learn what marketing strategies work and craft processes to maximize your growing consumer base. It may also encourage customer loyalty, which in turn influences how and what others buy.

Related: 26 Ways To Increase Brand Awareness

How to use brand advocacy in marketing

You can follow these steps to build brand advocacy in marketing:

1. Define your target market

Before developing a team of brand advocates, it's beneficial to define your target market. Understanding what types of customers you want to attract may help you select the right individuals as brand advocates. Various markets, such as young professionals or older adults, have different expectations for what they want and what kind of advocacy they prefer. It's important to align your product or service with the consumer market that primarily wants it. You can identify your target market by looking at consumer demographic data to determine which groups buy products that most align with the brand's products and services.

Read more: How Do I Find My Target Market?

2. Hire a brand ambassador

A brand ambassador is an employee whom a company hires to represent its brand positively and increase brand awareness and sales. Companies usually hire these individuals because of their proven track record of brand advocacy and marketing abilities. The brand ambassador engages in a long-term relationship to become intricately knowledgeable about the brand's products and offerings.

Brand ambassadors can help you spread awareness about a company and build a positive reputation with the public, which may lead to organic brand advocacy. Professional networking sites are good resources to look for brand ambassadors. If your team has internal recruiters, you can consult with them to scout for employees qualified for the position.

Related: 5 Characteristics of a Successful Brand Ambassador

3. Define your goals using the SMART method

Defining your goals streamlines your process to maximize the effectiveness of brand advocacy in marketing. It's important to understand what you want your brand advocates to accomplish. For example, you may want to grow the organization's following on a social media site or register more customers for the loyalty program. The SMART goal-setting program is a common method that organizations use to set realistic and actionable goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Be particular about the goals you want to achieve.

  • Measurable: Track the progress of your goals.

  • Attainable: Set goals that are achievable and realistic.

  • Relevant: Focus on goals that serve a purpose related to your overall endeavors.

  • Timely: Complete your goals in a timely fashion.

4. Cultivate a positive company culture

Employees can be powerful brand advocates, so it's important to establish a positive environment for your fellow team members. The company culture may also dictate how the brand interacts with customers, making it especially influential in establishing brand advocates. Developing an inclusive and forward-thinking culture creates a foundation where employees want to represent their company and consumers want to support them. This form of marketing can be effective because it's organic and self-cultivating. 

Read more: Guide to Company Culture

How to measure brand advocacy

Measuring the success of your brand advocacy program is important. When you carefully review the outcome of brand advocacy, you can learn more about what's working and how you can improve your brand advocacy strategies. Here are some steps you can follow to help you evaluate your progress:

1. Review your goals

Consider your goals in detail to remind yourself of what you hoped to achieve with your brand advocates. You can measure your results against your goals to learn if you met your expectations. This may also reveal whether your goals were achievable and realistic. Understanding how your goals and outcomes compare might help you refine your goal-setting process in the future.

2. Track and collect data

The ability to monitor website views and article or social media engagement is essential to measure your brand advocacy. Reviewing data may help you understand your reach, especially if your brand advocacy strategy includes social media or influencer marketing. These figures may reveal:

  • What reach you're achieving

  • Who's liking or sharing your posts

  • What hashtags are popular

  • Which social media campaigns work best

Consider analytics or metrics that show awareness, engagement, conversion and bounce rates. The results show whether the brand advocates engage with the brand and identify those who are most likely to be interested in it. This can help you refine your approach and inform feedback you may give to internal advocates and partners.

Related: 13 User Engagement Metrics To Measure and Track in 2022

3. Revise your approach as needed

Tracking brand advocacy is a long-term action to include in your marketing strategy. Your goals and metrics may change over time, so it's helpful to revisit your strategies and adjust accordingly as needed. It's also important to review your advocates and if they continue to suit your market. As your organization develops, your brand advocates may also change. 

For example, if you're the marketing coordinator for a small skincare brand, your brand advocates may be local shoppers who buy your products at nearby boutiques and markets. If a popular blogger mentions your products in a viral post and you see a sudden increase in popularity, your brand advocates may now include anyone sharing and engaging with the post.

Related: Understanding Advocacy Marketing: Definition, Benefits and Tips

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Tips to improve brand advocacy

Here are some tips to help you enhance brand advocacy:

Leverage social media

Social media is one of the primary ways people make connections and communicate with people across the world, including brand advocates. You can capitalize on social media outreach initiatives to maintain a consistent consumer base. It may help to partner with influencers or public figures who enjoy the brand you're marketing or encourage team members to make their own posts on social media.

Related: 25 Do's and Dont's of Social Media for Business

Create an advocacy program

An advocacy program is an initiative companies use to encourage people to promote their brand, essentially creating brand advocates in large numbers. These programs are typically large-scale campaigns that require many employee and consumer contributors and use sophisticated marketing tools. Because of their scale, this approach may be most suitable for large teams with resources to dedicate to a program, but small teams may be able to launch successful brand advocacy programs within their communities.

Read more: What Is an Advocacy Program? (With Steps To Create Your Own)

Use the Triangle of Trust

The Triangle of Trust is a method that presents the cyclical nature of trust in a beneficial business relationship. Trust is a core element of effective and self-sustaining brand advocacy. Consumers who trust a brand are more likely to advocate for it. Brand advocates who gain consumers' trust may be more effective marketers. Here are the three fundamental ideas in the Triangle of Trust:

  • Brand advocates make recommendations to potential customers because they trust and support the company.

  • Brand advocates gain the trust of prospective customers, and the new customers bring in revenue to the brand.

  • The brand rewards its advocates for their hard work, loyalty and dedication, solidifying their trust.

Related: 7 Ways To Gain Customer Trust (And Why It's Important)

Form business partnerships

Business partners function as an extension of a company for brand advocacy and consumer retention. Affiliate programs and partnerships can extend your consumer base and align you with popular individuals or businesses, which can be mutually beneficial to both parties. Partnering with larger companies means wider outreach potential, while small companies provide a more personalized consumer branding experience.

Operate with a customer-centric mindset

Consumer-based brand advocacy is one of the most effective ways to promote a brand. To gain a large consumer base of brand advocates, it's essential that companies make business decisions focused on the needs and desires of their customers.

Businesses that value their consumers can establish long-lasting customer loyalty, which may drive these customers to promote the business organically. A customer-centric mindset means providing quality customer service and actively engaging with the community, prioritizing customers' needs first.

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