Marketers know that brand advocacy is invaluable. But global social media strategist network [email protected] set out to discover how much a little brand love is actually worth in its first Global Brand Advocacy Study.
With the help of data partners CIC, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Visible Technologies, [email protected] analyzed seven million brand social mentions across four different countries (Brazil, China, the UK, and the U.S.) and 22 brands. The results? Consumers just aren’t feeling the love these days, or at least not sharing it. According to the study, advocacy, or positive mentions, only represents 15% of all brand mentions, with the remaining 85% consisting of negative or neutral comments. In fact, only two out of 22 brands had more than 50% of their mentions in the U.S. fall into the most enthusiastic advocacy category.
Not fully understanding the value advocacy can bring to a brand is one of the greatest challenges today’s marketers face, says Irfan Kamal, global head of data, analytics, and products at [email protected] He explains that advocacy provides two sources of value: extending the reach of existing campaigns through fan and customer base marketing and driving increased rates of conversion and action through recommendations. He also notes that advocacy is often generated around discussions and programs that tend to be long term, compared to a quick-and-easy campaign.
But customers can’t take all the blame for the lack of love. Kamal says brands must create a “surround sound” experience and provide multiple, yearlong advocacy touchpoints. And while Kamal encourages brands to provide their customers with advocacy incentives, such as coupons or frequent flier miles in exchange for positive mentions, he discourages brands from just outright paying their advocates.
“You can create programs that have some sort of incentives, but they have to be structured so they’re more about creating experiences where people are excited about advocating and not just getting compensated for doing it,” Kamal says.
In fact, marketers who don’t take advantage of customer advocacy find themselves getting “much less reach for the same amount of spend,” Kamal notes. To make sure that marketers are getting the most out of their marketing investments, Kamal advises marketers to identify key advocacy drivers, such as by tuning into discussions, and then develop programs that amplify those specific attributes.