When it comes to working with influencers and advocates – brands have a variety of options: customers, employees, bloggers, partners, and social influencers. While all of these advocates are different and require slightly different strategies the approach is generally the same across the board. Check out these best practices for powering advocates to share your brand story.

Don’t start & stop. This rule applies to all different types of advocates. If you’re going to invest in your advocates you have to be in it for the long haul and commit to building sustainable relationships with your advocates. Turning off your Advocate Marketing channel will ultimately cause more harm. Think of it like going on a great first date and never hearing from the person again – advocate relationships need to be always on.

Keep it easy. If you’re going to ask someone to do something for you, you shouldn’t make them jump through hoops. It’s far more likely that your advocates will create and share your content if it’s easy. Make it easy for your advocates to share by providing them with content to create and share. Send regular email reminders to keep them coming back.

Don’t be too prescriptive. Let’s face it – no one likes being told what to do, including your advocates. Instead of telling them what to do, provide them with ideas and thought starters to make it easier for them to get started. Plus by not being overly prescriptive you give your advocates the ability to exercise creative freedom. Your advocates may come up with ideas that are better than anything you may have even thought of.

Surprise and delight. Surprise and delight thank yous motivate your advocates to keep coming back and advocating on your behalf. Surprising and delighting advocates with shout outs and product samples gives your brand the WOW factor and leaves a lasting impression – turning customers into advocates and advocates into lifelong customers.

Recognition can be a powerful form of thanks. It’s like your mother used to say, “a simple thank you goes a long way”. Saying thanks is a powerful (and easy!) way to recognize advocates. Give your customer advocates a shout out on Twitter or Facebook and recognize employee advocates by highlighting them in company newsletters and internal social networks.