As brand advocacy marketing grows in importance, i-dac Bangkok’s Suchada Supakan looks at how Thai brands can identify brand advocacy drivers and create them by harnessing social media.
As digital connectivity helped bridge the gap between brands and Thai consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic, brand advocates in the digital space have become prominent in making brands trustworthy, leading to potential sales.
Today’s consumers do not shy away from expressing their thoughts on social media, from sharing their experiences and their love, to even their unfavourable feelings about a brand. Thus, brand advocates are viewed as authentic and play a part in the consumer’s purchase decision, making it important for brands to have a positive online presence.
Wannissorn Posil, media director of i-dac (Bangkok), says the pandemic has accelerated digital adoption by Thais, especially in e-commerce, whilst Thais in a wider age range have also become more familiar with social media and made it a part of their lives.
“Gen Z to Gen Y consumers, in particular, are confident in sharing and expressing their opinion of brands, products and services across social spaces. This has generated organic and authentic word-of-mouth by real users across online platforms.”
She says that under such circumstances, brand advocacy marketing becomes more important than ever.
“Amplifying a positive consumer voice can be powerful to convince and seal the deal with other consumers. On top of that, feedback from your consumers could further help improve the marketing strategy for today’s marketers.”
According to i-dac Bangkok’s survey (as of June 2022), socialtoaster.com (as at Jan 20) and influencermarketinghub.com (Aug 21), there are 7 reasons to ramp up brand advocates:
- Boost organic reach on social sites
- Using ad blockers is now optional for consumers
- 63% of individuals discover products and brands via word-of-mouth
- 60% of individuals discover new brands from real users on social media
- 78% of individuals trust word-of-mouth recommendations
- 71% of individuals are likely to trust shared experiences by real users
- Brands can convert their consumers into loyal customers through every step of the marketing funnel
But what can be done to create and ramp up brand advocates?
Tap into brand advocacy drivers
Understanding what drives your consumers to advocate for your brands is key to leveraging brand authenticity and making consumers believe in the shared positive opinions.
The top six motivational factors (GWI data Q1-Q4 2021) that drive consumers to promote their favourite brand online are:
- High-quality products (57.5%)
- Rewards, eg discounts, gifts with purchase, etc (48.9%)
- When something is relevant to my interests (44.5%)
- When I’ve received great customer service (41.8%)
- The feeling of taking part/being involved (33%)
- Love for the brand (30.7%)
Know your brand’s talking points
Positive and relevant advocacy can be invaluable to extend organic reach across a high volume of a brand’s target consumers and generate advocates.
The top five qualities of an advocate that can make consumers believe in your brand are to be reliable (67.4%), authentic (61.1%), bold (42.1%), innovative (40.9%) and smart (34.8%).
The following are some successful cases of advocacy marketing as associated with the essential talking points.
Reliable: Driving Tesla with word-of-mouth
Tesla is well-known for using a word-of-mouth strategy to promote the brand and get consumers to find out more about their models, according to businessinsider.com.
Tesla’s referral program offered existing customers a US$1,000 credit for introducing a new customer, who would also get a US$1,000 discount on Tesla parts. It clearly shows that this strategy can continue to attract more Tesla buyers, whilst also amplifying its positive feedback and earned media.
Authentic: Buzz about iPhone shots to connect
Apple’s “Shot on iPhone” campaign created authentic buzz and has been successful since the campaign first launched in 2014, according to retently.com. Apple allows iPhone users to create their own content by sharing a photograph taken on their iPhone to post on Instagram with #shotoniphone.
Over 25 million users have contributed to this campaign with the joy of creating their own photos and content. The winning photo is used on billboards and transit advertisements, generating a connection between Apple and its customers. The product feature and quality have created organic exposure on social media across the world.
Authentic: Glossier turns fans into micro-influencers
Glossier’s marketing strategy is mainly focused on authenticity and consumer needs to acquire a large community of loyalists, according to extole.com, with the brand's mission “to give voice through beauty”.
The brand turned its fans into micro-influencers by letting them create their own beauty content on social media, with the brand reposting and selecting some content creators as brand ambassadors. As a result, 70% of Glossier's online sales were generated by consumers’ word-of-mouth and organic leads.
Glossier believes that when you deeply understand what your customers need and get them to trust your brand through real users’ word-of-mouth, customers will continue to talk about the brand in their social circles in the long run.
Bold: A fun way to learn and amplify word-of-mouth
Duolingo is an educational application for users to learn multiple languages, according to warc.com and thesuccessbug.com. Compared with other language learning applications, Duolingo differentiated itself by making learning languages simple and fun, like playing a game.
The application hit its peak in 2019 and caught the attention of people through word-of-mouth. Duolingo successfully generated a positive lift in brand awareness and consideration, as well as significantly gaining new signups. Duolingo’s net worth was over US$1 billion in 2019, with 300 million users around the world.
Harness social to create advocates
There are six ways to build brand advocacy, according to business.com.
1. Identify brand advocacy drivers
First, think about why your customers would advocate for your brand, such as the love for your brand, the quality of your product and service, the rewards that are worth sharing, your product innovation, etc.
2. Create a relationship between brand and customer
Converting your first-time customer to your loyal customer is essential to drive your brand advocates. Once they become your fans, they would naturally be enthusiastic to speak positively about your brand in their community.
3. Inspire and surprise customers and prospects
Providing an unexpected experience about your brand often makes your customers and prospects willing to share experiences, especially across their social spaces.
4. Enable potential advocates with relatable content
Once you can identify your potential advocates, utilising them to amplify your brand positivity can be powerful. Your brand enthusiasts would love to share your brand content or even their own content related to your brand if that is relevant to them on their social spaces.
5. Measure advocacy campaign’s success for marketing success
Evaluating your advocacy campaign will keep you on track by looking at the campaign result metrics, such as its ability to convert sales, increase followers, create online conversations, drive engagement, drive content shares and more. This will help set a strategic direction for your advocacy campaign that supports your marketing success.
6. Reward brand advocates’ actions
Treating people who love your brand as VIPs is essential. Not only can they be your long-time customers but they can also amplify a positive message across their communities. Rewarding their positive reviews will maintain the relationship between your brand and loyal customers, as well as keep up the momentum of your brand advocates.
To increase brand advocacy, try doing these:
- Be authentic: Make the authenticity of your brand last by creating belief and trust in your brand through your brand identity and proposition via your communication.
- Talk to your fans: Who would love your brand more than your fans? Continue communication to engage and ask your fans what they value to keep up with what’s next for you to amplify. Their opinions and ideas can help improve your brand communication.
- Use the multi-channel approach: With an increasing number of social platforms and changing consumer behaviour for each social platform, brands need to get back to the basics to identify who the advocates are and which platform they use to amplify brand advocates in their community. Using different types of content or formats across different social platforms is also important to drive the impact of your brand advocacy.
- Don’t sell but relate and educate: Although hard-selling content is now acceptable among today’s consumers, relatable and useful soft content about the brand can help increase your content shares. Useful or educational content can be sharable among your target consumers’ community.
- Be prompt in communication: Instant response to customer feedback can result in winning customers’ hearts and positivity about the brand. It can also change their negative attitude if a brand can respond to their customer feedback, especially online, where the word can spread quickly.
- Keep an eye on trends but don’t play with all trends: Some trends are cool but brands would need to avoid those with sensitive subjects such as politics, race, religion and personal beliefs.
- Be creative to drive virality: Consumers tend to be enthusiastic about sharing content they feel is different from what they have seen before. The creativity of your brand content can be powerful in making it go viral.
This article is part of an ongoing series with i-dac Bangkok based on their monthly i-dac Digital Flash series, featuring insights into trends in Thailand.
The series is led by the digital strategic planning unit:
- Suchada Supakan, head of digital strategic planning
- Natthaporn Loetsakulcharoen, senior manager of digital strategic planning
- Laddawan Thanlap, senior digital strategic planner
i-dac Bangkok is a digital agency specialising in performance media, branded content, and data marketing.