Brand advocacy is an effect means of spreading even the minutest aspects of a business. People who admire and respect a particular brand will try and introduce new customers to it.
Brand advocates are basically individuals who promote a brand’s product. While a company can promote its own product, having another person wax eloquent about its benefits comes across as more authentic.
5 Common Challenges for Brand Advocacy
Brand advocacy is not as easy as it sounds and a company – as well as the advocates – encounters several challenges, which they need to surmount, along the way. Below are the five common challenges brand advocacy encounters.
1. Converting Customers to Ambassadors
The primary challenge of brand advocates is finding, convincing and converting fans or customers to a brand ambassador. One must not confuse between a social media fan, and a social media advocate.
A social media fan essentially follows the brand, listens to what the brand has to say, as well as engages with the content shared. However, a social media advocate supports the brand, promotes it, broadcast’s the brand and even takes a stand whenever necessary.
According to a Nielsen study, most of the avid social media users are not the Millennials, but Gen X – which is the 35 years to 49 years age bracket. This group reportedly spends nearly 7 hours each week on social media. By comparison, Millennials spend a little over 6 hours. Therefore, it is important for a brand to identify its target audience or customer, before they convert them into an advocate.
2. Keeping the Personal Element Intact
The second challenge faced by brand advocacy is retention of the personal element. Generally, the first group of advocates who were a part of the brand’s journey when the operations started tends to hold a special place. These people were there behind the company, supporting the brand through thick and thin. So, it is but obvious that the relationship the brand shares with them is a strong one.
However, as the organization grows, there is a tendency to lose the personal element, which was present at the outset. This is also because as the brand grows, the number of advocates also increases.
Therefore, with more advocates, the job of maintaining a healthy connection with all becomes quite a challenge.
3. Constant Departure of Brand Advocates
The third challenge which is faced by brand advocacy is the constant departure of brand advocates. Yes, it is a fact that people who may have once been loyal to the brand shift gears or loyalties.
The departure of brand advocates is a constant phenomenon and one which companies need to grapple with frequently.
Moreover, people have a short attention span, which is constantly decreasing, as evidenced by studies. Therefore, a brand advocate may possibly get bored with the company and gravitate toward another product.
4. How to Offer Localized Experience to Global Customers
The fourth challenge for a brand is while the company attempts to establish a global foothold or identity. The challenge for the brand lies in offering a local experience to the global consumers.
As soon as one creates a company page on any of the social media sites, one is placing their brand as a platform which is open for all to like and follow.
And this is where the challenge comes in. With both local and international ambassadors on board, it can become difficult for the advocates to communicate with each other. The communication gap could be owing to time difference, language barriers and even ideological differences.
5. Brand Advocacy Program – Validating Its Value
The fifth challenge faced by brand advocacy is the validation of the value of the program being run. While often the success can be measured by the rewards the advocacy program is reaping, it is difficult to translate the effort being put in, the struggles encountered to the boss.
A brand advocate may be putting in plenty of hard work to properly broadcast a brand, but are unable to prove its value to the stakeholder or the boss.
The value of the advocates gets undermined as it is not possible to prove their worth in monetary terms since it is intangible and unquantifiable.
Brand Advocacy Challenges – The Solutions
1. How To Transform A Customer Into An Ambassador
Many businesses find it hard to seek out the right brand advocate or ambassador who can promote their business effectively. So, what is the best way to overcome this obstacle of finding the right ambassador for the brand?
By organizing, recognizing, and encouraging a fan to become the brand ambassador.
It is important that a company focuses more on the quality, rather than the quantity. A brand has to look for people who are:
- Are regular on social media websites
- Spontaneous and sporadic
Make sure you don’t forget to recognize, as well as encourage advocates for their support. One such way is to send them a hand-written letter as a token of appreciation – a small gesture, which will go a long way.
2. How to Keep the Personal Element Intact
The solution to this challenge is really easy – a systematic one-on-one communication with the brand advocates
Always listen to what your advocate has to say about the business, or any other factors. This will allow the brand advocacy program to have a clear notion about what the ambassador is thinking, which will aid in solving any problem.
It is also important to conduct interactions in a systematic manner. Since the company is now being manned by more than one advocate, one has to create systems that help the company connect with the advocates.
3. How to Tackle Constant Departure of Brand Advocates
The solution is really easy and right under your nose! Look for staff or employees from within the company as a replacement. It will be easy and safe to discuss things with those working with the company for a long period.
It is also important for a company to reinvent itself so that the brand advocate’s attention can be captured constantly.
Motivate the internal brand advocates and groom them properly. Give them some tasks to solve and check out who does it properly. Implement the idea of internal incentives as well to retain a brand advocate.
4. How to Offer Localized Experience To Global Customers
The key for a successful international, as well as cost-productive, business expansion is by developing the brand according to the region and its cultural sensibilities
You don’t want your brand to be confined to the boundaries of a particular region. For companies, hiring advocates who are accustomed with the region and the natives will ensure a wider reach.
Brainstorming for ideas and promoting them through blogs, vlogs, and asking local advocates for further feedback is an effective way of extending the brand to locals.
5. How to Validate Value Of Brand Advocacy Programs
Many a times, a brand advocate fails to get the right kind of credit or praise for their work. This makes the brand advocate feel dejected and demotivated.
It is important to establish the expectation from the brand advocate to measure their achievement.
- Getting the advocate to share their latest achievement
- Their feedback on a new product
- How they tackle social media questions: both positive as well as negative feedbacks
- The advocate hosting a local event in the area in the head’s absence
These will help the stakeholder evaluate the credentials of their advocates systematically. Once you have laid down the objectives, you can measure them easily!
Sawaram Suthar is head of marketing at Acquire, and also a founder of Jagat Media, a digital marketing agency. A digital marketing consultant, he has experience in things including branding, promotions and page optimization, along with research and strategy. He has an MBA from the University of Pune. Anyone can find him on @sawarams.