Your customers and residents are more trusted than any other source when it comes to making purchasing decisions. This even includes your community website. Advocates are 50% more influential than the average customer. They are those happy customers that are willing to promote your brand for free simply because they are passionate about your customer experience and your community.
Each community and every (good) brand has their own unique set of advocates, and if you are smart about it, you can partner with them to create successful marketing strategies and customer experience without busting your budget.
“The web isn’t really made up of algorithms. It’s made of people in all their frustrating, imperfect, and complicated glory.” – Sonia Simone
We always want to get the maximum exposure without spending a painful amount of money on traditional paid and print media. Cultivating brand advocates who are excited to share their experience is a cost effective solution to achieve that goal. To foster a dedicated group of advocates, you have to recognize what it is that they love about your community and what drives their loyalty. Use these advocates as a source for customer feedback and work towards implementing their suggestions while letting them be involved in the process.
Harnessing your advocates is a “give first” relationship. Most marketers focus on how to get the most out of their advocates, but you first have to focus on what you can give to them. Advocates crave opportunities to be a resource. They also want to be considered a trusted thought leader for their personal following. Make sure you reward them when they are helpful and insightful. A cost effective way to do so is to give them access to your private amenities or offer them any neighborhood discounts that are exclusive to your community. This will create greater affinity and exclusivity.
Here are additional tips to cultivate your tribe of advocates:
Send a handwritten note. No matter how much of our time is spent online, people still love to receive a personal note in the mail. Dust off your branded stationery and send your advocates a personalized thank you note for what they have done for you personally and your community.
Send an email. If you aren’t able to send a handwritten note, send a personal email to show your gratitude. Even if you find that the people who are regularly interacting with your brand are doing so on social media, take the conversation offline. This will allow you to continue to build your relationship with the advocate while also showing how much you value them.
Feature them on your blog or social media. Advocates are great at sharing their experiences via social check-in, tweet, vibrant Instagram pictures, Facebook post, and even Snapchat. They are busy crafting content for you and encouraging their friends and followers to take interest in your brand. Rather than liking, sharing, or retweeting their posts, feature them on your brand’s social channels, blog, or website. Just make sure to get approval first!
Treat them. The best way to cultivate your advocates is to build genuine relationships with them and get to know them beyond their social mentions. Treat them to coffee, send personal invitations to your community events, or send lunch to their office.
Encouraging and fostering a community of people who are passionate about your brand and are willing to share their living experiences should be the main focus of your social media strategy. Your advocates are boosting your SEO with their positive reviews, improving your online reputation by sharing their stories, and extending your word of mouth reach and social engagement by way of social media comments and tweets. You can’t buy for these results with paid advertising. Identify and cultivate your advocates, make the process easy, and your advocacy marketing strategy will be wildly successful!