Gone are the days when people are merely passive spectators of marketing gimmicks and powerless recipients of products and services. Today, customers can say exactly what they think about a brand through a tweet or a Facebook post. Negative feedback can go viral quickly and, as a lot of even big companies can attest, taking a beating on social media is a PR disaster that’s very difficult to fix.
Businesses, however, can take advantage of this emerging era of customer empowerment. They can get their clients on their side. Instead of going with the traditional hardline marketing tactic, companies can let their most loyal customers speak for them. These clients are more believable and are able to connect with their peers better than a marketing team ever could. Such is the concept of customer advocacy.
Technology plays an integral part in a company’s customer advocacy program, from identifying their advocates to a continuing long term engagement with them. The easiest route of course is through popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They are a treasure trove of organic feedback which, with good data mining techniques, can be very helpful to companies.
Social media is a good starting point for customer advocacy but a company must also have an effective platform to track social interactions and provide areas of engagement between the brand and its customers. Having a Facebook page does this to a certain extent but it doesn’t provide much customization beyond the default features.
Businesses can make use of software and social business solutions that are scalable to their needs. Beyond monitoring social interactions, these platforms can also be useful in conducting online surveys and focus group discussions, user reviews, peer-to-peer interaction, crowd-sourcing new ideas, and even in organizing live events.
In choosing a social business software, determine how it could fit the advocacy program of your brand. Does it provide the kind of data that your program needs? Does it have enough flexibility to be integrated into your plans? Is it functional and easy to manage? The end goal is to have a long term partnership with your loyal customers so it’s important to evaluate if the platform you want to use will help you achieve this.
We must remember, though, that the success of customer advocacy lies not just in technology or having the right platforms. It is in providing high quality products and services to your customers, and ensuring transparency in communicating with them. That is how you build trust, and when your clients trust your brand, it won’t be so hard to make advocates out of them.