What Is Social Media Advocacy & How To Use It

Mar 1, 2024 11 min read

Have you ever had an amazing experience with a company that you couldn't wait to share with everyone you know? So great, that you take to your socials to be vocal about it? Yes, that's what the essence of advocacy marketing is.

We all know that there’s nothing more convincing than a friend’s endorsement — especially on social media. And when satisfied customers become brand advocates, spreading positive word-of-mouth about your business, over 92% of consumers trust their recommendations. That’s the best way to show the benefits of your products instead of telling your customers why they should care.

Keep reading to learn more about what social media advocacy is and how you can turn your customers into your biggest advocates in social media.

What Is Social Media Advocacy?

Simply put, social media advocacy refers to building a relationship with supporters who willingly want to share their love and loyalty for your brand on their social networks, either to promote or support a cause. These supporters can be in the form of:

  • Satisfied Customers
  • Employees
  • Industry Influencers
  • Business Partners
  • Stakeholders

In turn, these individuals (brand advocates) willingly endorse your products or services and share their positive experiences, recommendations, opinions, or content related to the brand within their own networks. Unlike influencers who are compensated for sponsored content, brand advocates are driven by genuine affection for your brand.

Research by Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising shows that a whopping 89% of people are more likely to trust recommendations from individuals they know personally. This means that through social media advocacy, you can make your organization recognized as trustworthy and authentic, establish yourself as an industry thought leader, and increase reach without paying a dime.

Why Does Your Brand Need Social Media Advocacy?

Social media advocacy is a strategic approach that can significantly impact your brand's success. Here's why your brand needs to prioritize social media advocacy:

1. Humanizes The Brand And Builds Trust

People trust recommendations from "normal people" over brand-led content. Studies show that 76% of individuals are more likely to trust content shared by ordinary people, such as employees or satisfied customers. In fact, peer-to-peer marketing, driven by brand superfans and advocates, influences 20-50% of all purchasing decisions, humanizing your brand through advocacy marketing.

2. High ROI With Minimal Effort

Implementing a brand advocacy program on social media can yield substantial long-term returns. On average, for every dollar invested, brands see a return on investment of 650%. This is as effective as influencer marketing but with considerably less effort. In most cases, empowered employees and satisfied customers are more likely to share and promote brand content willingly, requiring minimal effort on the brand's part to maintain an active advocacy program.

3. Generates Trust, Brand Awareness, And Revenue

Social media advocates, being employees or customers with a deeper connection to your business, are inherently more credible in the eyes of consumers. Studies show that 88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. This, in turn, not only improves brand awareness but also drives revenue, where a 12% increase in advocacy generates a 2x increase in revenue growth rate.

4. Employee Advocacy Drives Greater Reach And Engagement

Marketing through employee advocacy channels is far more effective and can yield remarkable results. Recent statistics reveal that promotional messages shared through employees’ social channels reach 561% further, gaining 800% more engagement and 700% greater conversion compared to official brand channels. Moreover, 90% of B2B potential customers are likely to engage with salespeople perceived as thought leaders in their industry who not only attract top talent but also reduce attrition rates and boost overall employee engagement.

5. Builds Customer Loyalty And Drives The Purchase Funnel

Word-of-mouth marketing, facilitated by social media advocacy, is instrumental in building customer loyalty and retaining existing customers. Loyal customers not only make repeat purchases but also become advocates, referring more business to your brand. This is true as customers referred by advocates have a 37% higher retention rate, highlighting the importance of advocacy in nurturing customer relationships and driving long-term success.

6 Best Ways To Use Social Media Advocacy

The best way of using social media advocacy is all about thinking of ways you can help your community or create one gradually. Take baby steps to ensure that before you reach out to potential advocates, make sure you’ve got a plan in place.

Here’s how you can use social media advocacy to the best use:

1. Identify Potential Brand Advocates

One of the best ways to put social media advocacy to use would be to identify your brand advocates who will vouch for your brand in the long run and establish its presence more strongly than ever. More than sales, most brands aspire to have a group of strong brand advocates who will remain loyal to the cause of the brand no matter what. It's very hard to create one and requires a lot of dedication. But once you have it, there’s no going back. It's the very backup that will be one of the reasons for your booming revenue and will help you stay strong among your competitors.

To find them, you can utilize audience intelligence tools and social listening techniques to:

  • Pinpoint individuals who align with your brand values and objectives.
  • Conduct market research to create detailed buyer personas.
  • Engage with your social media followers and newsletter subscribers to identify engaged fans.
  • Segment your audience based on shared characteristics or interests.
  • Leverage sentiment analysis tools when searching for those brand advocates who are spreading the love.

Identifying and recruiting enthusiastic brand advocates will help you amplify your message and build trust along with a strong brand community.

2. Leverage UGC And Craft Captivating Content

User-generated content (UGC) is a valuable asset for social media advocacy. You can use the same to encourage your audience to create and share content related to your brand, products, or services. Sharing user-generated content (UGC) and customer testimonials includes advocates in your content and highlights that you value them.

A survey from Wyzowl found that 95% of people say that reviews – whether positive or negative – influence their purchasing decisions. In addition, you can also your brand advocate a discount coupon or freebie as a token of thanks.

For instance, Glossier is a great example of using social media advocacy that incorporates UGC as a part of its social media strategy. The beauty brand shares a mixture of photos and videos from regular people, influencers, and celebrities who share content of themselves using Glossier products on Instagram.

3. Spread The Word About Your Campaign

Spreading the word about your campaign is essential for maximizing its impact through social media advocacy. While you can always develop a personalized marketing plan that includes targeted promotion across various social media channels like:

  • Paid advertising
  • Influencer partnerships
  • Email marketing
  • Social media advertising

It's better to encourage your brand advocates to share and promote your campaign within their networks to amplify its reach and visibility. By spreading the word about your campaign, you can generate buzz, increase participation, and achieve your campaign goals.

For instance, Coca-Cola’s most inspiring campaign – “Share a Coke,” leveraged social media advocacy to replace the traditional logo with “Share a Coke with” followed by a person’s name or a generic name (mom, dad, mate, bestie, etc.) The campaign’s popularity grew as loyal customers participated in the same, increasing share by 4% and young adults’ consumption by 7% after a steady decline in sales for years.

4. Reward Your Brand Advocates

Rewarding your brand advocates is essential for maintaining their enthusiasm and engagement in your advocacy campaign. While monetary compensation may diminish the authenticity of their advocacy, you can offer creative rewards that resonate with them. This can be providing free or heavily discounted products, exclusive access to training or industry conferences, or branded merchandise as tokens of appreciation.

This is true as 73% of advocates say they’ll review a product or service when they receive an incentive, and referred customers stay longer. This can further motivate customers to advocate for your brand, leading to increased customer retention, higher profit margins, and amplified brand advocacy.

For instance, MailChimp attracted a lot of attention by gifting crocheted "Freddy" cat hats to 500 loyal customers, sparking conversation and social media sharing.

5. Help Your Audience To Tell A Story

You can do a lot with the help of social media advocacy if you want to say a lot about your brand. To do that, you just need to find ways that let them engage with your content and make it story-worthy.

You can:

  • Craft campaigns that evoke humor, usefulness, or emotional resonance, prompting your audience to engage and share with others.

  • Identify the remarkable aspects of your story that would compel someone to share it with others.

  • Incorporate your customers into your narrative, casting them as the heroes of your brand story.

  • Make it easy for your audience to share your story by providing clear instructions and incentives for participation.

  • Collaborate with employees, superfans, or influencers, and outline when and where to share your content.

Take inspiration from Reebok’s employee advocacy program that encourages influencers and employees to share their passion for fitness, incorporating a provocative hashtag through networks such as Facebook and Instagram.

6. Provide Prompt Customer Service

Delivering prompt customer service is essential for maintaining positive relationships with your audience and fostering social media advocacy. 97% of consumers say customer service is crucial for brand loyalty, as 16% will pay a premium price for a great customer experience.

If it's good, they will spread the word about your service with their networks and increase brand awareness and the reputation of your business to attract new customers. To achieve this, you can leverage customer experience management tools like Statusbrew to monitor social media channels for customer inquiries, feedback, and complaints and respond promptly and professionally.

Provide personalized responses, solutions, and assistance to address customer concerns and resolve issues effectively or utilize chatbots and automated responses to streamline customer service processes and ensure timely responses.

For instance, Warby Parker engages with its customers in real-time through direct messages, comments, and mentions to demonstrate its commitment to customer satisfaction.

Examples Of Brands Using Social Media Advocacy Successfully

Let's look at some of the best examples of social media advocacy that will give you an idea of how brands are leveraging it and how effective it can be if used to its full potential.

1. Starbucks Advocacy Marketing

Starbucks is one of the most successful brands to master social media advocacy through various innovative strategies. The first one starts by creating a sense of belonging among employees by referring to them as "partners. "

This is what their social media guidelines address: “We’re called partners because this isn’t just a job; it’s our passion. So, go ahead and share it!” To boost employee advocacy, they also encouraged dedicated social media accounts for their partners, which now continue to grow by the thousands every week.

Additionally, Starbucks launched the “Tweet-A-Coffee” campaign, allowing customers to buy $5 gift cards for friends via Twitter. All they had to do was tweet the @tweetacoffee handle alongside the recipient’s own Twitter handle. This initiative not only drove sales (generating around $180,000 in sales for Starbucks) but also identified loyal advocates and potential customers for future engagement.

2. Tesla’s Advocacy Marketing

Tesla has outdone itself through its innovative referral program, which leverages the enthusiasm of its loyal customers to attract new clients. The strategy was quite simple yet effective. By offering both the referrer and the referred person a $1,000 discount on a new order, Tesla ensured that positive word-of-mouth recommendations were backed by tangible benefits. Moreover, Tesla incentivized existing customers further by introducing exclusive rewards, such as the opportunity to purchase a limited Founder Series Model X SUV or even receive it for free after referring a certain number of individuals.

Over time, Tesla's referral program evolved to offer a range of enticing rewards, including free new Roadsters, an invite to a Tesla event, tours of SpaceX headquarters, and even a photo launched into deep space orbit.

While the current iteration of the program focuses on solar roofs and panels, with customers earning rewards for referrals, Tesla continues to rely on its loyal customer base to promote the brand over traditional advertising methods.

3. Apple’s Advocacy Marketing

When it comes to ads, they don't always need to be grandiose, flashy, or expensive. Instead, you can let your loyal customers handle that for you just like Apple did. Apple ingeniously leveraged user-generated content in its advocacy marketing strategy, notably through its "Shot on iPhone" campaign, where they used the content in their ads, making it more natural and free of any editing costs.

What is genius about this program is that people became crazy and lined up at the opportunity to become an Apple “star.” They shot images through their iPhones and posted the same under a designated hashtag. Apple consequently settled on shots from 77 people from 24 countries to be featured in public transit and billboard advertisements, with barely any editing required on their part. Through its “Shot on iPhone” campaign, Apple proved that effective marketing doesn't always require elaborate designs or large budgets but simply a cost-efficient strategy of brand advocacy.

4. Gap’s Advocacy Marketing

Sometimes, risks are worth taking, and Gap proved that in a long shot. With its bold approach to advocacy marketing, GAP partnered with Groupon to offer customers an irresistible deal – a 50% discount on $50 purchases for a single day. Despite the inherent risks, the strategy proved highly successful, with 534 Gap offers sold per minute by midday, resulting in approximately $11 million in revenue.

Beyond the immediate financial gains, Gap's collaboration with Groupon sparked widespread social media buzz as customers shared the offer with friends, family, and colleagues and kept up the attention after it as well. This proves that there was a chance of the brand incurring a huge loss; they tried out a new approach to advocacy marketing that was worth the risk.

Get Started With Your Social Media Advocacy Today!

As you go on with implementing the different strategies to leverage social media advocacy, don't forget to review the same every few months to see how your progress is tracking against the goals you established at the start. Remember, this isn't a one-time process. The results will take time, and you must be patient.

We understand that this might be an overwhelming task with so many social profiles to handle. That's why you can pivot to Statusbrew and let us handle the above. With the help of our varied automations, you can share your content, engage with different audiences, and easily track the performance of your initiative to get things back on track.

To understand how we can help you better manage your advocacy program to the next level, try our 14-day FREE trial today!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Which social platforms are best for social media advocacy?

Best social platforms for advocacy: Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are popular choices, depending on your target audience and objectives.

Who can be a brand advocate?

Anyone passionate about your brand can be an advocate, including customers, employees, partners, and influencers. Since they are the ones evaluating your product on a day-to-day basis, it's fitting that they spread the word around.

What are the 7 pillars of social media advocacy?

The 7 pillars of advocacy include authenticity, credibility, trustworthiness, passion, influence, engagement, and consistency. Any brand incorporating these pillars are a part of these advocacy programs is sure to reap the benefits in the long run.

Ahana Basu

Ahana Basu, a content writer at Statusbrew, transforms ideas into captivating narratives. Besides writing, she loves exploring cuisines, powerlifting, drawing, and jamming to classical music.

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