authentic advocacyGuest Post by Brooklin Nash

Marketing strategy has shifted over and over again over the past several decades. As technology develops, software and consumers become increasingly integrated.

The end result is that marketing strategy is no longer only about TV spots or catchy slogans.

Around one third of the world is on some form of social media. With social media on the forefront of many people’s minds, it has naturally also come to weigh on the minds of marketers. At the same time, the business climate has put increasing importance on the way company culture informs company success.

The combination of these two developments has resulted in what is know as “authentic advocacy.”

More than just a fancy marketing term, authentic advocacy encapsulates the heart of marketing strategy today: building a strong, influential brand by connecting with people. This is the point of inbound marketing, social PR and (yes) authentic advocacy. Connecting with individuals is what establishes a firm foundation – so once you have that, how can you build an influential brand through authentic advocacy?

Tip #1: Seek Out Employee Evangelists

The very first step is to get your own employees fully bought-in to the vision and purpose of your company. Having engaged employees is at the heart of social public relations. Instead of broadcasting your sales message, today the goal is to have it shared. This is where employee evangelists come in. Inspired employees are more likely to want to be part of movement in the organization.

This may not be possible in every case, but you can start small. Introduce leadership boards, project collaboration – even gamification! At the same time, make sure to keep it personal Just like interpersonal skills, authentic advocacy is an artform. From the very start, make sure to focus in on your personal thoughts, employee feedback and stories.

Employees are almost certainly more likely to share this more personal content over the latest sales copy.

Tip #2: Utilize Social Media

Once you have this base of bought-in employee evangelists, you can turn to social media to start implementing a form of authentic advocacy and social PR. The idea of social PR is simple enough: utilizing social media over traditional PR channels to get your message across. But what can that actually look like? While discussing the details of social media strategy may be a topic for another post, social media management tools can be extremely helpful in getting authentic advocacy off the ground.

In all of this, you should make social integration the goal. Integration means not treating social media as solely the realm of PR or customer satisfaction. Instead, integration means that this kind of social PR informs both making marketing decisions and responding to customer feedback. Your current customers will appreciate the effort and respond in kind, and your marketing leads will see and respond to the authentic interaction.

In short, by relating social media to both areas you can build a more influential brand with authentic advocacy.

Tip #3: Turn Employee Advocacy Into Customer Advocacy

As you lay the groundwork of authentic advocacy, you can start moving in concentric circles. With employee evangelists sharing reviews and making recommendations, more and more of your new customers will be coming from these sources. As they do, you can start encouraging customers to become advocates themselves.

The key here is customer reviews. Utilize honest reviews, such as the ones listed on TrustRadius, to both engage current customers and to build trust with potential customers.

It’s literally a win-win scenario.

You can feature these reviews on landing pages, social media, newsletters and more. The first step really is to just reach out and ask your customers to engage!

Brooklin NashBrooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.