Thanks to social media, word of mouth has been “massively amplified.” Where once talk about favorite restaurants or companies was limited to the few people around the water cooler, now millions of people can hear about an experience you had with a tour company.
That doesn’t mean companies have to sit by while this happens. Many are using this source to empower passionate customers to essentially market for them—turning passionate customers into advocates who spread positive word of mouth, says Rob Fuggetta, author of the bestselling book Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force.
How do you turn customers into brand advocates?
- Provide excellent customer service: Ensure that every customer interaction is positive and meets their expectations.
- Offer high-quality products or services: Offer products or services that solve problems or meet customer needs and exceed expectations.
- Engage with customers regularly: Stay in touch with your customers through email, social media, or in-person events.
- Encourage customer feedback: Ask for feedback and use it to improve your products, services, and customer experience.
- Show appreciation: Recognize and reward your customers for their loyalty and advocacy.
- Leverage social proof: Highlight the positive experiences and opinions of other customers to encourage new ones to join the advocacy community.
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If you can find people who are highly willing to recommend you, you have found your brand advocates, says Fuggetta. “When you have people raising their hands [who are] highly likely to recommend, you ought to reach out to those people and say, ‘Michelle, thanks for being a recommender. How would you like to …’ And then you give them an opportunity to review a product or tell their story or do any number of different things that turns an advocate into almost a virtual marketer for your brand,” he says.
Two ways you can put advocates to work for you are creating content and sharing content or offers, Fuggetta says.
“Advocates will gladly create content for you. And by content, I mean things like testimonials, or as we call them, stories. What’s their Kodak moment? They’ll also create reviews. They’ll rate and review your products and services. And if you make it easy for them, they’ll publish those reviews on Amazon, TripAdvisor and Yelp,” he says.
Advocates are also very willing to share content—the content they’ve created, content you give to them to share, and offers such as an invitation to a webinar or to download a white paper, Fuggetta says.
“These are big opportunities for companies to … empower their advocates as content creators and then also make it easy for them to share that content with their social and business networks,” he says.