Everyone Is a Potential Advocate: How to Scale Word-of-Mouth

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Who are your advocates? How do you turn your most trusted people into brand advocates? Where do you get started with advocacy? How do you scale word-of-mouth? Let’s dive into these questions and uncover the secrets to advocacy.

What do we mean by advocacy? 

How do we break it down?

The definition of advocacy we go by at Ambassify is the following: 

“Advocacy is what happens when your most trusted people become your brand ambassadors on social media, and they co-create and share your content to amplify your brand organically.”

In other words, advocacy happens when your people share their experiences and their knowledge about your brand on social media (generally and hopefully, in a positive way). At Ambassify, we mainly focus on how to turn your employees into social media advocates, but the concept also applies to your customers, your partners, etc. 

The core of advocacy is relationship building, it’s culture building, and collaboration: building a solid bond with your advocates will provide a solid foundation for a durable and strong program aimed at amplifying your brand.

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Getting started with employee advocacy

Instinctively, advocacy is something that many have experienced firsthand. Whether it be by hiring someone through a referral from another employee or simply by being on the receiving end of things and being yourself persuaded in your purchasing decisions by other people’s personal recommendations.

Yet, few companies actually have a clear process or structure in place to organize, facilitate, and manage advocacy. The biggest hurdle for companies at this point is getting started: taking the first step can often be a daunting moment as people don’t know where exactly they should start. So, where do you begin?

  1. Create a culture of advocacy. As I mentioned before, it's not only about content sharing, resharing the company’s content and brand message automatically. It’s about collaborating with your employees and relationship building, and that involves creating the appropriate culture for it. It involves some change management as well because you want to start with something new, and it’s about making sure your employees feel happy, valued, and satisfied enough in their roles to be willing to advocate for you.

  2. Explain the why behind it. Why is it important for our company? Explaining the reasons why you want to start an advocacy program in your company is crucial to maintaining transparency about these matters and explaining the importance of the employees’ roles as ambassadors. They hold great potential and they truly have the power to change the game for your brand, and making sure they know about it will entice them to help and support you in achieving your goals. 

  3. Show advocates what’s in it for them. The advantages of having an advocacy program aren’t only for the brand. The brand ambassadors also get some nice perks in exchange for their efforts. The main advantage is the advancement and improvement of their thought leadership and personal brand on social media. This happens when they are sharing and participating in the company’s content, thus showing themselves as industry leaders and experts. 

    Employees become more active thanks to the program, and they talk about their brand and what they do on a day-to-day basis. Publishing content and interacting on LinkedIn, for example, shows thought leadership, eagerness to share one’s opinion and point of view, etc. 

  4. Focus on quality over quantity. You don't need to have all your customers or all your employees involved from the beginning. Especially when you’re starting off, what truly matters is getting willing, active, and interested employees to be your ambassadors. Those will later be your internal champions, too, spreading the news about the program internally and gradually getting more and more people on board. 

  5. Scale your program. Then, the next step is scaling it. You can decide to kick off your program in an informal way — think about a Slack or Microsoft Teams channel, for example. But when you want to make advocacy an integral part of your marketing strategy and empower your advocates to go to the next level, that’s when you need to start looking into some kind of software that can support you. Centralizing content distribution, enabling easy content share, building a community, and measuring that community’s efforts will be crucial here and a tool like Ambassify can help you scale that. 

Who owns advocacy?

Whether we’re talking about customer or employee advocacy, one of the most frequent roadblocks for companies is not knowing who within the company should own the program. Who is responsible for advocacy?

Sometimes, it's unclear whether it should be Marketing, Sales, or — in the case of customer advocacy — Customer Success. Establishing who’s responsible for organizing the program is a fundamental starting point if you want to coherently and gradually grow the number of advocates you have. 

If we look at customer advocacy, it’s easy to see how Customer Success can have a massive impact. At the same time, Marketing owns the content and the messaging, which is the pivotal building block of a good employee advocacy program

The solution? Cross-departmental collaboration. It is important that two or more departments share the load of managing and advancing any advocacy program — in the case of customer advocacy, for instance, Customer Success can provide precious insights on the customers’ journey that can inform and drive Marketing’s efforts in involving them as advocates. 

Turning your people into advocates: when and how to ask employees and customers

Is there ever a case where you shouldn’t ask a customer to be an ambassador? Yes, there is. And that’s why input from Customer Success is crucial here. Understanding the customer journey, their growth, and their progress in achieving their business goals. Only a happy customer, a customer who’s achieved its business outcomes, will be a good advocate. That’s why you should be very careful whom you ask to be your reference, of course. 

If a customer is struggling, if they're they have low usage, then asking that type of customer to be a reference shows that you don't understand how things are. And ultimately, we might even be worse off by asking them, actually.

When we talk about employee advocacy, the discerning principle is similar. Especially at the start of a program, it’s important to look at those employees who are already quite active on social media and who feel comfortable (and proud of) sharing company- or industry-related insights and content. Those are the employees who will be strong and active ambassadors.

When an employee or a customer is happy and satisfied with your company –  your culture, goals, and mission in the first instance, and your product and service in the second — it becomes natural for them to want to advocate for you. Being an advocate is going to become part of their online identity.

With time, the more advocates you have, the more your advocate base is going to grow: word of mouth works as much externally as it does internally, which means that ambassadors will attract and convince others to also become advocates for your brand — and that’s when it’s time to start scaling.

How to scale word-of-mouth

Scaling word-of-mouth marketing becomes a tangible, measurable strategy with platforms like Ambassify. An employee advocacy and community-building platform, it empowers companies to harness the power of their employees and loyal customers by turning them into active brand advocates. 

Through the platform, you can create and distribute targeted content to different user groups and engage advocates with a variety of asks — from sharing positive experiences and testimonials to engaging challenges and polls and getting feedback. 

The platform offers tools to track engagement and measure the impact of these word-of-mouth initiatives, providing valuable insights into how effectively these messages are spreading. Additionally, you can measure performance, ROI, advocacy-generated traffic, and other metrics to scale and grow your program and keep an eye on your KPIs. 

By leveraging Ambassify, companies can systematically scale word-of-mouth and amplify their reach, turning personal recommendations into a powerful extension of their marketing strategy.

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