I recently participated as a panelist on a webinar titled "Your Brand Advocates- How to Find Them and What They Are Worth,” along with Kety Esquivel (from Ogilvy), Rob Fuggetta (from Zuberance), and Frank Eliason (on his last day at Comcast -- he's now with Citi). We talked about what a brand advocate is, and how brands can identify and energize them. Here are my slides along with a few thoughts and tips.

Brand advocates, at their core, are people who really like and care about a brand. They are the opposite of critics because they're out there talking about the brand and recommending it to their friends  (aprox 150 if they're sharing those recommendations online, according to Forrester). What they say actually resonates with others because there is a trust between friends and connections. These brand advocates cannot be bought, forced or created, so others perceive them as genuine fans of the brand.

Brand advocates are brand advocates because they've had good experiences with a brand and they are willing and able to share some enthusiasm. Of course, brand advocates aren't always positive and they aren't always the most vocal or social (as we might assume they are). They do expect the best from you... and that is a good thing.

Anyone representing a company in social media should seek to connect with this special group of passionate and supportive customers. Once you find one (yes, one is a big deal), try to develop and nurture a relationship. If you're passionate about your company and its products/services (as I happen to be at Samsung), then this should be easy and natural for you. Help them connect with other fans and try to provide them with valuable and memorable experiences (that can be anything from good on-going conversations to content they actually might want to watch/read). Whatever you do, don't take advocates for granted (regardless of how connected or influential they might seem).

Not sure what to think yet? Here are some stats if that's your kind of thing:

McKinsey & Company has found that 2/3rds of the economy is influenced by personal recommendations. Zuberance says that a brand advocate may help provide 5 to 7 times more economic value than the average customer. Keller Fay Group has found that consumers mention 56 brands in conversation per week. According to Weber Shandwick, 1 in 3 people come to a brand through a recommendation, and according to Bain & Company, the most recommended company in any given category grows 2.5x the category average.

So, does anyone care about your brand enough to proactively and genuinely talk about it with friends? Are you ready to be an advocate yourself and join the conversation?

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed on this blog are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of Samsung.

Copyright © Esteban Contreras. All rights reserved.