Today’s women are expanding the definition of “girl power” and letting brands know that they’re a voice to be reckoned with. According to the “Beyond Pink: Marketing to Women 2012” report by brand experience agency Jack Morton Worldwide, women control 65% of global spending and 80% of U.S. Spending. Women dominate the social space as well and spend 40% more time on social networks than men, according to the same report.
Kerry Lyons, SVP of marketing for House Party, a social marketing platform and product sampling party provider, believes that brands should take advantage of women’s connectivity through brand advocacy.
“We turn to each other for support, for suggestions, and for recommendations, and I think there’s something inherent about that,” Lyons says. “In the marketing world women have more purchasing power than ever…; advocacy marketing, influencer marketing, earned media, and those authentic recommendations are really what is more powerful today than a message another brand puts out.”
For brands that want to increase their number of brand advocates, Lyons recommends focusing on finding the right advocates, creating an authentic experience, and providing advocates with the right tools to share their experience on and offline. Here are three secrets to tapping into the XX evangelists:
Find the right advocates
House Party’s primary advocates are middle class white women between the ages of 30 to 39 who are married with kids, according to a survey the company’s conducted. By comparing 3,000 women from the House Party community to 1,000 women in the general U.S. population, House Party also discovered that its advocates are far more social. For example, 100% of the House Party women are on Facebook, and they’re three times more likely to be on Twitter and three times more likely to be on Pinterest than the control group. Lyons also notes that House Party’s advocates are far more likely to dabble with other social channels, including Instagram, Tumblr, and Google+. In addition, approximately half of the House Party community members surveyed spend three hours or more on Facebook each day, and one third of them are spending an hour or more on Pinterest.
House Party women also use social differently than the control group; 75% of House Party members surveyed turn to social media to share information and expertise, learn about a brand and its products, and receive and share recommendations, according to the study.
“[Advocates] are six times more likely than the control group to use social media to share brand recommendations. That’s the goal for a marketer,” Lyons says. “If you can get these women sharing their authentic stories with their social network, that’s been proven now more than ever to lead to purchase.”
Create an “authentic, genuine” experience
Lyons says that allowing customers to sample a product is the top driver for recommendations and sales. According to House Party’s research, 93% of its members say trying a product is a key purchase influencer; only 33% also list a brand’s advertising or marketing as a main influencer.
“The challenge is you can’t get everyone in the world to try your product,” Lyons says. “Recommendations are the number two driver for purchase among both groups, and what makes a strong recommendation is an authentic brand experience.”
One of the most vital ways for a brand to deliver a top-notch customer experience is to be where the advocates are, Lyons adds. According to House Party’s research, 71% of the company’s community members are on smartphones, compared to 36% for the control group, and 53% socialize via their tablets.
“Be where they are. Be in their channels of choice, and optimize your message for their devices of choice,” Lyons says.
Give them the right tools
If brands want to keep their advocates, they need to provide ways for advocates to generate buzz both on and offline. For example, House Party hosts product sampling parties to get customers talking about their clients’ products offline. In terms of generating advocacy online, Lyons advises brands to provide online content, recommendations, and reviews to keep their advocates talking and sharing. According to House Party’s research, 61% of its members say online reviews drive them to purchase, compared to 31% for the control group, and 64% list online recommendations as a purchase influence versus 24% in the control group. In addition, 57% of advocates say they’re motivated to follow or like brands on social media that provide interesting or entertaining content.
“[Advocates] are looking to be entertained, and they’re looking for simple, easy digestible nuggets,” Lyons says. “That’s part of building a relationship with a consumer…. It’s not about marketers talking to consumers. It’s about consumers controlling so much of the dialogue and being able to express what [they’re] looking for, and expressing easy answers and immediate feedback.”