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A Girl’s Guide to Brand Advocacy

by Jessica Wilkinson

There are lots of buzz words and phrases being thrown around these days within the inbound marketing industry, but the one that makes my heart skip a beat is (drumroll, please) …
brand advocacy! You might think that an advocate is someone who RTs a brand or consistently uses a company’s coupons or loyalty cards, or even supports a sponsored giveaway on a brand’s blog.

But let’s break it down, folks: These factors alone do not a brand advocate make. If a year ago you asked me, “Hey girl, who are you a brand advocate for?” I would have responded, “Aldo, Qdoba, and Beyonce. Always Beyonce.” But after further R&D, does that statement still hold true? Let’s explore.

1.  Aldo

Why I love you: Aldo is my go-to when it comes to the flyest kicks, heels and sandals. They also carry bomb handbags and accessories. But products alone aren’t enough—their customer service is out of this world! If the store is out of my size, I can have a pair of shoes in my size shipped to my doorstep within days at no additional cost.

Is this advocacy? Survey says, “No.” While I do appreciate a studded wedge ankle boot waiting on my doorstep as much as the next girl, I don’t shout Aldo from the rooftops. Do I “Like” them on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter? Yes. Do I seek out Aldo’s updates and tweets to engage with the brand or share their message? No.

2.  Qdoba

Why I love you: Two words – queso and coupons.

Is this advocacy? Nope. I have to admit that I do frequent my local Qdoba maybe a little too often, but this is solely because I receive email or text coupons. I wouldn’t go nearly as often if I didn’t earn 85 points per entrée on my Qdoba Card or receive BOGO offers on my smartphone.

3. Beyonce

Why I love you: Where do I begin?! Beyonce is a Survivor, an Independent Woman, and a Run the World Girl. (See what I did there?) She is everything I strive to be. I believe in the message she delivers through catchy hooks, the most entertaining concerts the world has ever seen, and philanthropic efforts such as her involvement in World Humanitarian Day. The main thing here: I believe in why she does what she does.

Is this advocacy? Absolutely, it is. Because I believe in Beyonce’s message, I don’t need coupons or incentives. I’ll gladly drive 3.5+ hours to sit in nose bleed seats at United Center in Chicago to catch even the tiniest glimpse of her live performance, and then tell the world how amazing it is via every social channel I can think of.

While Internet and social marketing are becoming essential to a brand’s success in developing and motivating advocates, the buck doesn’t stop there. It’s not enough to talk the talk—brands must walk the walk in real life. For example, I had a terrible experience with a specific company (that shall not be named) regarding a warranty on a router. Via emails, live chats and many a phone convo, my issue was dragged on for days, all while I was sans wireless Internet –a first-world problem, but a problem nonetheless.

Fed up with all of the frustration, I marched into the Best Buy location where I purchased the router (six months ago – clearly outside of the store’s return time frame) and explained my issue. Within minutes I was walking to my car, new router in hand and tweeting about my experience. I took every store survey they gave me and told everyone I know about my awesome experience. Best Buy accepted the challenge and made me a brand advocate for life.

To quote Simon Sinek, “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” When you look at brand advocates this way, it makes sense—but the process is not easy. How do you get potential advocates to identify with your brand and believe in your message online and IRL? On the flip side, who are you a brand advocate for? Why? Tell me in the comments.

Jessica Wilkinson

Search Media Networker at Slingshot SEO, Jessica Wilkinson is a Search Media Networker at Slingshot SEO.


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