Advertising is no longer just about billboards or even pricey PPC ads. With social media and the rising importance of company culture in the mix, advertising has become much more about people. This is where “authentic advocacy” comes in.
Authentic advocacy is integral to any form of stakeholder engagement strategy – which, in turn, is just a fancy term for “achieving brand buy-in from your employees and customers and getting them involved in advocacy work.” You can see why most people prefer the catchier term – authentic advocacy.
You can’t build without a foundation, and the foundation of building a strong brand through authentic advocacy is people. So how can you go about it?
Start with Inspiration
While salary is certainly the main incentive for employment for many people, it is far from being the only incentive for working hard. People don’t want to be just a cog in a wheel of a machine in a factory – they want to be part of an organizational movement. Inspired employees will be involved employees. To get to this point, you can start small: recognize and reward the accomplishments of your team members. From there, you can give more responsibility by building leadership boards over certain projects. You can even introduce gamification, especially in the early stages of building up authentic advocacy.
Make it Social
In recent years, the line between personal and professional life (at least when it comes to social media) has become increasingly blurred. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, especially for leaders looking to connect with employees and bring them on as brand ambassadors. In building a strong brand through authentic advocacy, leaders should identify ways that they can share posts that simultaneously relate to the brand and their personal life. It’s not hard to imagine that personal, substantial and non-salesy posts are more likely to be shared by employees than by the latest marketing piece. Again, it’s all about connecting with people.
Keep it Personal
Related to the social media piece of authentic advocacy is personalization. In creating any kind of marketing or sales material, leaders should be looking for the personal whenever possible. This includes employee stories, personal thoughts, customer reviews, endorsements and more. All of this can be converted into blog posts, landing pages, videos – and then easily be shared by your employees and customers. This is crucial to gaining traction and more customers, since research shows that people are more likely to pay attention to personal recommendations than even the slickest sales page.
Move Outward, Leveraging Employee Advocacy for Customer Advocacy
Speaking of personal recommendations, let’s not forget to mention another set of valuable stakeholders: your customers. Authentic advocacy doesn’t have to stop with employee engagement – you can also get your best customers involved in brand advocacy! Monitor social media comments and reach out to those who are most active. Connect with relevant groups on LinkedIn. Ask customers for honest reviews. If you are doing things right, you are bound to have at least a handful of customers ready and willing to become brand ambassadors for your company. All you have to do is connect and ask!
Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.