So far, I have covered the importance of brand advocates, the three types of brand advocates, and gone into detail about the first type - the Casual Recommender. Now, I will introduce the second type - the Brand Insider.
Brand Insiders require a higher level of understanding of what a company has to offer and also some degree of influence and exposure to its employees. At first, this understanding can be achieved via social media channels as they interact with community managers. As their level of involvement increases, the accompanying incentives and requirements can also increase.
Initially, this part of the advocacy program should be open to all participants, as a critical mass should be developed to enable community stability. Once that point is reached, the process can become more selective, using influence criteria and activity levels to determine eligibility.
Effective education is a key requirement of this program, as in many cases, these advocates will be the only face of the company that many potential customers see around the web. Advocacy managers should develop more detailed guides to the products and services as well as a channel for receiving feedback both from the advocates and the users they interact with.
The company should invite these advocates to join a private discussion group. This can be on Facebook, Google Groups, or on any platform that support private group communication. The advocacy manager will facilitate discussions and answer advocate questions. This will be the primary location for conversation.
The advocacy manager should hold regular online conferences that will contain advanced information about company products and services, issues, or simply be an opportunity to give feedback. Note that topics for these webinars can actually come from the Brand Insiders themselves. On some occasions, the advocacy manager will organize a discussion featuring company employees to provide exposure and additional information.
Advocacy events may also be held several times a year in centralized locations or at company offices. These events will give advocates a chance to meet each other and the company, and to serve as both a reward and an opportunity to further engage.
Community managers will be a primary source of new advocates, although some may also develop from Casual Recommenders. In each social media platform – Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn – the most active users should be collected on a monthly basis. Each user should then be evaluated based on the quality of their interactions.
If the company has physical locations, then they will also have a strong presence in the communities of its customers. Therefore, community managers should set up meetings with the branch employees to identify advocates there as well. Members with an interest should be brought into the program and continue to be active in the locations they feel most comfortable.
Brand Insiders will require some incentives to remain active after their initial involvement. These incentives will not have to be monetary - recognition such as titles, badges, access, and encouragement can often be more effective.
As the program and membership matures, additional incentives will need to be added. Part of the advocacy management process will be to learn the key motivators of the participants.
- Create a detailed educational program for brand insiders. This will need to be iterative, as the questions from the advocates will influence what needs to be in the program.
- Define the types of activities that the company wants to encourage
- Determine what incentives will most effectively resonate with the audience to encourage those activities within the available budget and resource constraints
- Create a system for capturing feedback from advocates within the company
- Start a private discussion group
- Build a monthly communication calendar for meetings
Next time, I will talk about Internal Advocates - the brand advocates that existing within the company itself. In the meantime, what is your favorite example of a Brand Insiders program?