Nowadays many people feel empowered and tend to share their buying experience online or with peers. This dramatically influenced the way customers make purchasing decisions, as they no longer rely only on what the brands say. That’s when companies realized the importance of growing their brands through the voice of their customers or highly influential people. It has become an ultimate goal for many to develop effective tactics for spreading positive word of mouth. Sure thing! Who doesn’t want to generate more than twice the sales of paid advertising or gain 37% higher customer retention rate? (McKinsey Study)
Having read that, some of you are now probably temped to shut down this article and rush to look for some social media star with thousands of followers to promote own brand. Well…If I were you, I would better finish reading it till the end! The point is that traditional word of mouth is now divided into two main categories. On the one side there are social influencers represented by bloggers, celebrities or experts with a huge number of Twitter or Instagram followers. On the other side are so-called brand advocates who are loyal “everyday” customers with true passion for your brand. In this blog post we will dive into the main differences between those two categories in order to help you decide what approach is more appropriate for promoting your brand.
In the past brands used to focus mainly on bloggers or celebrities who succeeded in building social media empires. In our previous blog we have already discussed how bloggers managed to change the direction of fashion industry and present products in a new light. The use of celebrities, on the other hand, was always associated with giving a brand a glamorous and luxury image! Can this type of promotion be effective?Definitely! If your social influencer has around 40 million followers it enables you to create wide reach by delivering the message to many people in short time. What marketers tend to underestimate though is that having a large social audience does not necessary mean that influencers actually have the power to drive actions! Yes, 40 million followers sound tempting but what it worth if your celebrity or blogger cannot influence them? Also don’t forget that these social influencers are usually paid for promoting your product! Who said they have a genuine passion for your brand? As an example, David Beckham, known as a spokesperson for Samsung, once failed badly when his IPhone started ringing during a press conference. Or take Jessica Alba, the face of the Windows Phone, who even couldn’t get her to actually use one! So how isn’t it just another type of paid advertising? It works much like an ad – you pay, they post. And this relationship lasts as long as the contract states. These pitfalls made brands carefully consider the other group of word of mouth promoters, namely brand advocates.
These are highly satisfied everyday customers who do not need to be paid for promoting your products. They are truly passionate and loyal to your brand, which encourages them to share their positive experience online or recommend your products to others. While their social network is smaller, the enthusiasm and passion are much bigger, which obviously has higher impact on people within their own social circles. The research showed that 92% of people trust their peers’ opinion when making purchase decisions. Just to show you how it works, here is a personal life example. Last week I met with my friend for a coffee. As always we had this 3 hours-long girls talk and at some point I said I needed to buy a new scarf! It is getting colder so I wanted something really warm. It happened that a couple of days ago my friend just bought this cute red and super warm scarf! Without thinking too long she said: “Look, that’s exactly what you need! I bought it from the shop X, the price is pretty affordable and the quality is really good!” She was so excited telling me how happy she was about her new purchase that it made me want to go to the same store and buy exact same scarf but different colour of course. (Come on, we are girls….we can’t wear the same things together!) In this case my friend acted like a brand advocate. “What’s in it for her?”- you may ask. Absolutely nothing! As a real true friend she is, she simply was worried about me getting sick during cold times and just wanted to help with finding the right scarf to keep me warm! As can be seen from my example, the true intention of advocates is to promote a product in order to assist and help! Obviously these people are harder to get, but once you find them they stay with your brand for longer time and can really drive your business!
So who is better – social influencers of brand advocates? There is no clear answer. Everything depends on your individual business objectives. If you aim to expose your products to new audience for awareness – social influencers is your solution. But if you don’t mind reaching smaller, but “more likely to buy” audience – make some efforts to turn your loyal customers into brand advocates. Colourcake can support with developing an effective strategy or finding the right influencers for your business. Contact us for more questions.