How to Identify and Reward Social Media Advocates

I hosted a webinar this week to explore the best ways that organisations can identify, nurture and motivate social media advocates. I was joined by three extremely well-informed...

social media advocate

social media advocate

I hosted a webinar this week to explore the best ways that organisations can identify, nurture and motivate social media advocates. I was joined by three extremely well-informed industry experts – Matt Rhodes (Fresh Networks), Ritesh Patel (Chandler Chico Companies) and Richard Jones (Engage Sciences) – and the result was fascinating.

You can listen to the recording (it’s just 1 hour long) on the Science and Emotion of Social Marketing website, but here’s a quick summary for you…

What is a social media advocate?

Matt suggested we separate Fans from Advocates and Influencers – all terms commonly used in marketing. While Fans may be supportive, Advocates have taken on a much closer, more personal role of supporting your organisation. Influencers that are also Advocates, are people with both passion and power – i.e. pure gold, in marketing terms. Ritesh added that Chandler Chico separates advocates into three groups: ‘I like you’, ‘I love you’, and ‘I defend you’ – with the latter group being the goal they aspire to for their clients.

How to identify social media advocates?

We agreed that the first place to look for advocates is right under your nose, at the friends, fans and followers your company already has. You’re looking for people who go beyond the usual odd message of support – who repeatedly engage with you and with others on your behalf. Richard Jones explained how Engage Sciences enables it’s clients to rank Facebook fans in order of engagement and drill down to how many people they have reached.

Fascinatingly, while most brands look to their biggest fans to identify advocates, brands should also consider speaking to their biggest critics. After all, what you’re really looking for is people who are passionate about your brand – and while passion may be expressed negatively – it’s an indication that the person really cares about your company.

How do you you engage social media advocates?

Ritesh Patel highlighted a project he has worked on where Chandler Chico identified a team of advocates for a pharmaceutical company. Working to a three-stage process of (a) identifying the advocates (b) helping them to learn about the products and (c) helping them to reach out and discuss the products with others, they ran a programme over 2 years. Interestingly, there were only 14 advocates on the programme. Size isn’t everything.

We also discussed systems, such as Lithium, through which major brands, including Best Buy and GiffGaff, claim to have saved $ millions by motivating advocates to resolve customer queries on their behalf. The goal is to maximise your “Efficiency Ratio” – i.e. the % of queries resolved by advocates, rather than your company.

How can you motivate social media advocates?

While I played Devil’s advocate, suggesting you might simply be able to buy advocacy with special deals and offers, the panel disagreed. People who respond to deals probably aren’t advocates, you need to look for a deeper engagement. Sharing deals might be a an indication of this.

Tools like Lithium, Fanzy and Engage Sciences use “gamification” to motivate fans. By introducing leader-boards, badges, points and rewards, companies can motivate fans and express their gratefulness without actually paying their advocates. The consensus on the panel was that, when you pay someone in cash, you change the dynamic for good. We advised against it.

Other ways of motivating advocates include: enabling them to get closer to the product and company by awarding them special status, exclusive rights or early access to the latest products/services; or creating a community of advocates in which they support each other (and become friends or ‘colleagues’). Interestingly, simply listening to advocates is also a tried and tested means of motivating them.

Join me and Martin Hill-Wilson (Social Customer Service consultant) in conversation with Naomi Trickey (Brandwatch) in our next free webinar on Social Media Monitoring for Customer Service, 19th July. You can register here.

If you’re in London, we also have a stellar line-up for our next conference, Facebook Marketing 2012, 18th July. Tickets are available here.

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    Ken Lonyai Reply

    Luke – great article! Well written and to the point. I hope to grab some time to hear the panel recording as well.

    I’m a big believer in gamification when appropriate and for the right audience. It may not work for a lot of people especially when all they are doing is achieving a point score. The concept of special status or privileges has the potential to be farther reaching and more powerful, especially around physical products, like access to a new mobile phone, 2 weeks ahead of the general public. And yes I agree, financial rewards have a niche place, but direct payments do change the dynamic irrevocably.

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      Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Thanks for your feedback Ken. We’re hosting another webinar on 19th July on “Social Media Monitoring for Customer Service”, if that’s of interest? (See our Events page).