Having been identified, brand advocates must be nurtured. Accept that this is going to take time.
The most important thing to remember about advocates is that they are not employees; they are customers. Treat them accordingly. An advocate is someone who liked a product or service or company so much, they were prepared to be not only loyal customers but also to spread the word. Trust has already been mentioned on the “Importance Of Brand Advocates” page and it needs to be discussed again here. The advocate needs to trust the brand. To do that, the advocate must UNDERSTAND the brand. The brand must also take steps to understand the advocate.
Get to know them. Ask what they would suggest as ways to improve the brand. Doing that does more than just generate new ideas for product or service improvement; it makes the advocate feel respected, valued and included. Other ways to do that? Try these:
- Share what they say. Re-tweeting their tweets indicates approval and respect. Writing a case study about them does the same, and don’t miss the chance to reproduce it on Facebook.
- Respond to any private mail quickly and with respect; respond to public comments (on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tripadvisor or anywhere else) equally publicly. Thank them for their assistance.
- Give discounts or points (but make sure that points can be converted into something valuable, like a lower price or a free product) in return for introducing a new customer, publicizing a product or blogging in support of the brand.
Don’t be mean about the rewards for advocacy. Having a good brand advocate is like advertising, and advertising costs money and is a lot less certain in its outcome.
Most of all, though, make sure that the advocate feels valued and does not feel like merely a pawn in the marketing chess game. Advocates are customers, yes; they are also people. Treat them that way.