Brand advocates are the bedrock of your organization.
Rightly so. When we talk about marketing, there are multiple channels that a brand can leverage to get results. While the ‘T’ point for all these channels is to promote a brand’s products or services and increase conversions, the one method that wins it all is brand advocacy.
And when done using an authentic medium such as online communities, brand advocacy can reap organic engagement and give brands a competitive advantage.
But how, you ask?
Community experts from across the globe unravel the nitty-gritty of brand advocacy in an insightful session on ‘How Communities are a Goldmine of Advocacy and Engagement’ at Community (re)Focus, 2021.
The session was joined by distinguished community aces:
- Corina Gheonea – Director, Global Community, UiPath
- Andreea Tomescu – Senior Community Manager, UiPath
- John Summers – Senior Manager, Community Practice, Grazitti Interactive
Let’s dive right into what was covered during the session and soak up on all the unique community insights, shall we?
Advocacy & Engagement – The 2 Pillars of Online Communities
Beginning the session, John asked the experts about their views on brand advocacy and engagement in an online community. In response to this, Corina stated that advocacy for them at Ui Path was all about identifying the organic traffic.
Through organic traffic, they were able to harness continuous recognition for their brand which helped them explore new markets and reap more business. This also helped them attract more users which grew their community base from eleven to more than a thousand.
Andreea mentioned that advocacy and engagement are two of the most important pillars of an online community. Without brand advocates, it becomes difficult for a brand to scale and get the desired attention. Engagement in a community is a direct result of brand advocacy. It is a way that empowers brands to market their products naturally by providing real-life experiences to the users.
Identifying True Brand Advocates and the Role of Community Managers
During the session, John asked the community aces about their thoughts on identifying brand advocates in an online community. Corina explained that at Ui Path, they started with a small forum with limited members, thus implying that the first few members who join your community are the most important.
Adding to this, Andreea mentioned that their community members had started contributing to the community by sharing video tutorials for a variety of niches like education, hospitality, etc. Also, the members showed an interest in virtual events which brought the community into the limelight.
She also explained that they had assigned chapter leads for specific topics and conversations that took place in the community. Whenever a user faced difficulty with a product, the chapter leads would take over and help the users resolve the issue. This empowered them to grow their community in synergy with the growth of their product.
In context to the topic of the role of community managers in identifying brand advocates, Corina said that community managers should set clear objectives. They should create strategies after considering the community needs, as well as the organizational needs. They both should be in sync. She also mentioned that the community managers should try to strike authentic conversations with the users. This serves as a basis for winning their trust and promoting meaningful conversations in the community.
Motivating Brand Advocates to Contribute to the Community
Talking about motivating brand advocates in a community, Andreea explained that community members induce lifeblood in an online community. If your community doesn’t have members who strongly advocate for your community and spread the word, it’s nothing more than an added expense. So, it is critical to offer your members unique content and incentives to keep them coming back for more.
She mentioned that the biggest mistake that organizations make while focussing on community engagement is not trusting the advocates. Companies should trust their members as advocates and provide 100% support to them to keep them motivated.
In addition to this, Corina mentioned that it is crucial to allow users to interact and engage with fellow users. Give them the opportunity to interact and participate in different groups so they get familiar with the vastness of your community.
Summing up the session, John mentioned that online communities are an ideal medium for brands to conduct conferences and virtual events. Brands can offer community advocates the opportunity to lead these conferences and become community MVPs.
Brand advocacy lies at the heart of community growth and engagement. Organizations should strive to win their users’ trust by maintaining authenticity and converting them into loyal buyers. Not only does it deliver long-term results but also boosts brand recognition and ROI.
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