5 Ways to Turn Employees into Vocal Online Brand Advocates

March 19, 2013

employee brand advocates 5 Ways to Turn Employees into Vocal Online Brand AdvocatesA company’s employees are its most powerful brand advocates, but few companies know how to effectively empower their employees to advocate their brands. Learning how to do it should be a top priority for every company and brand, particularly for generating online brand advocacy where the reach and influence of your employees could be significant.

Of course, employees have to be happy and have to believe in the brand promise in order to want to advocate it to their own connections and online audiences. That’s where a company needs to start — with a focus on internal brand building.

Next, you need to give your employees the tools they need to advocate your brand in the ways you want them to. This is particularly important for workforces that are spread out in multiple locations. Using a tool like the employee advocacy software from Expion can help you manage the process, but you need to create your strategy and brand advocacy plan first.

You can’t expect your employees will know what to do. It’s up to you to guide them to advocate the brand properly. To help you get started, following are five ways you can turn your employees into vocal brand advocates online:

1. Give your employees the messages you want them to share.

What do you want your employees to say about your brand in their online conversations? What messages would make them proud to share information about their company and your brand? Can you give them messages that would be useful and meaningful to their friends, family, and online connections? Don’t assume they’ll relay every message you give them, and don’t give them sales-oriented messages. Very few employees will want to broadcast marketing and sales messages from their employer to their connections, but many will want to share useful information.

2. Give your employees the content you want them to talk about and share.

Beyond giving your employees messages, give them actual content to talk about and share online. This includes videos, infographics, images, slideshows, ebooks, and so on. This content should be meaningful, useful, or entertaining or none of your employees will share it. The goal for employee brand advocacy should be to build brand awareness across wider audiences that can lead to sales at a relatively low cost . With that in mind, keep self-promotion to a minimum. Focus on brand storytelling and tapping into emotions in your content, so people will want to share it.

3. Acknowledge your employees who actively advocate your brand online.

Don’t let your employees’ brand advocacy activities go unnoticed. Respond to them online. Acknowledge them offline as well. This acknowledgement should include company recognition and personal appreciation on a one-to-one basis. They’ll have more motivation to continue talking about your brand if they feel appreciated for their efforts.

4. Show your employees the results of their online brand advocacy efforts.

If your employees’ online brand advocacy efforts are showing measurable results, make sure they’re aware of the effects their activities are having on the brand and company. They’ll feel more motivated to keep up their efforts knowing that those efforts are actually having an impact.

5. Reward your employees who actively advocate your brand online.

If you can tie brand advocacy efforts back to individual employees, then you should have a method in place to not just acknowledge those employees but also to reward employees who are extremely active or driving real results for the company through their efforts. This is essential if you can tie employee advocacy efforts directly to sales and revenues. Internal brand advocacy can help your company drive word-of-mouth marketing at a fraction of the cost other marketing initiatives would require, so make sure you reward your top employee influencers whose advocacy leads directly to sales.

Image: Svilen Milev

5 Examples of How Twitter Affects Brand Building

January 24, 2013

twitter marketing 300x269 5 Examples of How Twitter Affects Brand BuildingThe effect that Twitter can have on a brand in terms of building brand awareness, brand recognition, brand loyalty, and brand advocacy through word-of-mouth marketing cannot be disputed. There are countless examples of brands generating massive tangible and intangible success through increased sales and brand value thanks to time and efforts invested into Twitter marketing, listening, content, and conversations.

Brands that do all four of the key activities that make Twitter an essential marketing tool — marketing (i.e., promotions), listening (i.e., researching), content (i.e., publishing), and conversations (i.e., relationship-building) are reaping the rewards. Wishpond shared the quantifiable results of five specific promotions launched by five brands on Twitter, and the results are inspiring. You can check out the complete infographic below, but first, here are some highlights:

  • LG launched a treasure hunt promotion through a Promoted Trend on Twitter and got 20 million impressions overall and 5,000 tweets per hour from it.
  • Virgin America used both Promoted Trends and Promoted Tweets to announce a cause marketing promotion which offered low fares and gave back to Stand Up To Cancer. The promotion gave Virgin America one of its top five sales days in its history, a 25% increase in sign-ups, and $50,000 in charitable donations.
  • Cadbury used a Promoted Trend to increase positive mentions for a specific product which generated a 25% engagement rate and a 1,800% increase in positive mentions of the brand.
  • Cirque du Soleil used Twitter’s Promoted Accounts in an attempt to increase followers to its Twitter account and ended up getting 360 new followers per day directly from the Promoted Accounts as well as 340 new organic followers per day.
  • Porsche used a Promoted Trend and Promoted Tweets campaign to launch a new product in the United States. Porsche experienced an 87% increase in engagement rate, a 594% increase in follows, and a 300% increase in positive brand sentiment.

Click the image to view the full-size infographic at the source.

twitter marketing infographic 5 Examples of How Twitter Affects Brand Building

(Source: Wishpond)

Twitter marketing efforts that focus on increasing positive brand sentiment, engagement, awareness, and recognition can deliver quantifiable results as the five brands in the infographic above have proven. Next time an executive argues against giving your marketing team the budget dollars needed to develop Twitter campaigns to positively promote your brand, show them this infographic. It’s just one more piece of evidence that could help you get the money you need to drive brand equity and sales through Twitter.

Image: Bernard Goldbach

Should Your Brand Have a Mobile App?

October 3, 2012

iphone and ipad Should Your Brand Have a Mobile App?If your brand hasn’t jumped onto the mobile app bandwagon yet, should it? There is no doubt that the future is mobile, and it could be argued that all brands should be investigating ways to deliver value to consumers in a mobile environment. But is a mobile app right for your brand today? Should you bump mobile app development up to the top of your brand priorities?

The answer isn’t simple. You really need to evaluate your goals for joining the mobile market to identify if now is the time to devote money and resources to app development. Following are five things to consider as you make a decision for your brand:

1. Your target audience must be mobile and comfortable using apps.

If your target audience isn’t currently using mobile apps on smartphone or tablet devices, then developing a mobile app shouldn’t be at the top of your list of brand building priorities. Do some research before you invest in mobile app development and make sure your target audience has the ability to use your app if and when it rolls out.

2. You need to have money and manpower to build the app now and manage it throughout its lifecycle.

Unfortunately, mobile app development doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all solution. Different devices require different coding. It’s easier to only create an iOS version of a branded app for iPhones and iPads, but doing so leaves a large audience unable to use your app. Furthermore, the work isn’t over when the app is launched. Updates, enhancements, and more must be done on an ongoing basis to ensure the app works, is generating the results you need, and is evolving in order to stay relevant and useful to consumers.

3. You need to promote your mobile app.

Visit the Apple App Store or the Google Play app store, and you’ll find a lot of apps and a lot of clutter. Unfortunately, people won’t find your app unless you promote it before and after launch. That means you need a marketing budget to develop awareness of the app and drive downloads (or sales if it’s a paid app). You also need a team to put the marketing plan into action, monitor the app’s performance against goals, and calculate ROI.

4. You need to develop an app that your audience actually believes is useful and/or adds value to their lives.

The barrier to entry in the mobile app market is almost non-existent, but if you launch an app that no one finds useful or meaningful, the app will fail. Even the biggest marketing budget can’t save a mobile app that is irrelevant and useless to consumers. You need to do your research up front and get a clear understanding of the type of app your customers want from your brand. Don’t assume you know what they want, because you don’t. This is an area where making assumptions will lead directly to failure.

5. You need to develop an app that actually does something and builds a deeper connection between the brand and consumers.

Don’t just make your corporate blog content available in a branded mobile app. Instead, make sure the app you create for your brand taps into consumers’ emotions and builds connections with them that lead to brand loyalty and advocacy. This is where the marketing team can show off their innovative thinking and turn the data collected from market research that identified consumers’ wants and needs into a successful branded mobile app.

Image: Yutaka Tsutano

The Importance of Consumer Emotional Involvement in Brands

June 12, 2012

apple tattoo The Importance of Consumer Emotional Involvement in BrandsWho says emotions don’t matter? Not brand managers. When consumers are emotionally involved in a brand, that brand has reached an important point of success. Emotional involvement in a brand leads to brand loyalty, brand advocacy, and brand guardianship that money can’t buy.

Word-of-mouth marketing by consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand is extremely powerful. Don’t believe me? Ask the marketing team at Harley Davidson or Apple. They’ll tell you how important emotional involvement in a brand is.

Of course, emotional involvement in a brand doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a brand that commits to the three steps of brand building: consistency, persistence, and restraint. It also requires the development of products or services under the brand umbrella that live up to the brand promise and meet consumers’ expectations for the brand again and again. Consumer emotions evolve over time as they experience a brand over and over. If the brand fails to live up to its promise or doesn’t meet consumer expectations, those consumers will feel let down. They’ll turn away from the brand in search of one that does meet their expectations in every interaction. In other words, they’ll seek out a brand that keeps its promise.

In that regard, consumers’ relationships with brands and emotional connections to brands work very similarly to how people’s relationships and emotional connections with each other work. If a person doesn’t meet your expectations or doesn’t keep his or her promises to you, that relationship will likely be in jeopardy. The same things happen with brands, and consumers are far less likely to give brands a second chance than they are to give other people a second chance.

It’s easier for some brands to foster emotional involvement than it is for others by nature of the types of products offered. For example, some consumers place a high value on having a sense of freedom. A brand like Harley Davidson with its product line of motorcycles lets consumers do exactly that. For other brands, creating an emotional connection requires some creativity. Apple did it by making the audience of “creative” computer users feel like a special group or “family” separate from those who use computers for spreadsheets and other less creative tasks. Developing that sense of belonging enabled Apple customers to become emotionally connected to the brand.

The point is that any brand can create experiences and opportunities for consumers to become emotionally involved in the brand, even if those opportunities are as simple as consistently meeting consumer expectations and living up to the brand promise. Sometimes, trust is all it takes to drive an emotional connection between a brand and consumers. With that in mind, building brand trust should always be a top priority for every brand.

Image: Terry Johnston

Some Executives Really Do Believe in Social Media Marketing

May 3, 2012

facebook like Some Executives Really Do Believe in Social Media MarketingFor most marketers, getting senior level buy-in on social media marketing investments is an uphill battle, but new research by PulsePoint Group and the Economist Intelligence Unit (as reported by eMarketer) shows that some North American senior executives are starting to figure out just how effective social media marketing can be.

Most of the 329 senior executives who responded to the survey are quick to note that social media marketing is still lacking in objective metrics, but there is no denying that it does have a positive effect on brands. Executives who claimed their companies have an extensive social engagement presence reported a return on investment (ROI) twice as high as those companies with a limited social engagement presence and four times higher than companies with no social engagement presence.

While much of social media marketing is still analyzed subjectively, executives reported a variety of positive benefits of investing marketing budgets into social media initiatives. For example:

  • 84% reported improved marketing/sales effectiveness.
  • 81% reported increased market share.
  • 68% reported improved product/service quality.
  • 67% reported improved brand or stock value.
  • 65% reported improved speed to market/innovation.
  • 65% reported improved collaboration with partners.
  • 58% reported improved talent retention.
  • 37% reported decreased costs.

Senior executives are also realizing that the long-term brand building value of social media comes from developing relationships that lead to brand loyalty and brand advocacy and a form of word-of-mouth marketing that’s extremely powerful. 69% of executives stated that customers speaking out via social media (even if those conversations were negative) increased sales. 67% of executives said that suppliers connecting via social media raises their games, and 54% said that employees speaking out helps them attract talent.

These are the types of benefits that lead to long-term, sustainable, organic brand and business growth. Short-term tactics are an important part of a social media marketing plan, but a brand’s integrated marketing strategy should focus on building brand awareness, advocacy, and ultimately, equity that can survive through any macro- or micro-environmental problem.

What do you think? Leave a comment and share your thoughts on the study.

Image: Denis Dervisevic

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