Brand advocates are customers, clients and other companies that don't just like your products or services — they love what your business does. These are the people you want in your corner. With enough advocates, word-of-mouth marketing takes off, and your brand advocates end up doing huge amounts of marketing for you.

But where are these special people who might, with one social media post or blog entry, generate traffic to your website, increase sales and improve customer loyalty? Look for them online, then work to increase their loyalty and help them market your products or services along with you.

Three Steps to Identify Brand Advocates

Brand advocates take a little detective work to find. Use these three steps to discover your best advocates, then follow up with the tips below to work effectively with them.

  1. Set up alerts: If you don't already have an alert set up for your company name and core products, do so today. An alert is an automatic email that messages you when a search term you have chosen is used on a website or blog. It's not foolproof, but it can help you watch what the market is saying about your products. Forbes offers several ideas for alert systems for businesses. A good tip is to set one up for your company name and additional alerts for major products and services.
  2. Examine social media: Who "likes" most of your posts? Shares them? Comments on them? These may be your advocates.
  3. Check your customer files: Customers who frequent your business must love what you're doing, and those who love what your business offers become good advocates. Add their names to your list of potential advocates.

Working With Advocates

The key to working with advocates is to provide them with the resources, tools and ideas they need to help market your products effectively. You need to keep a steady stream of information flowing to them.

Once you've identified your brand advocates, use the following steps to encourage them to share your company news:

  • Set up both an email list and a snail-mail list to reach advocates.
  • Ask them if they would like to be contacted with special offers, products or sneak peeks at upcoming events and products. If they say yes, keep them on your list.
  • Send them what you've promised. Press releases and product announcements, sample kits, coupons and photos (with appropriate permission for them to share and post) are all great ideas.
  • Thank them for their time.

Keep in mind that bloggers and journalists are required by the Federal Trade Commission to clearly disclose any associations with corporations, and to note that they have received free samples or products for review, so don't be surprised if you see such language appearing near an article on a blog.

Brand advocates and influencers can give your product a great boost on social media and beyond. Take time to identify and work with your advocates for maximum impact.

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