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Brand advocates are those who enjoy your product or service so much that they’ll happily spread the word about it. Customers have never been more empowered than they are today, and social media and review sites give consumers a lot of leverage to control your company’s online reputation. Turning your best customers into brand advocates is an important process since they’ll voluntarily do much of your advertising for you.

1. Implement a Loyalty Program

Studies show that brand loyalty is declining. Consumers are more spoiled for choice than ever before, and attention spans are only dropping. However, while earning customer loyalty might be more challenging, it remains essential. Implementing omnichannel loyalty programs that are personalized to the individual needs of the buyer has proven to be one of the most effective ways to earn repeat buyers.

Contrary to popular belief, loyalty programs are not just about giving customers a way to save money in a bid to encourage them to stay with your company. In fact, 77% of transaction-based loyalty programs fail within a couple of years. To encourage brand loyalty, you need to focus on engagement with your brand rather than rely solely on offering discounts.

2. Provide Value-Adding Content

Every day, millions of people scour the web looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Value-adding content is that which offers these answers and solutions. This is the type of content that sets your brand apart as an authority in its industry and earns the loyalty of new and existing customers. A solid content strategy is a crucial element of any brand advocacy program.

Great content helps convert customers into brand advocates in a variety of ways. Firstly, it provides something for free, which is always appreciated. Secondly, people will often share engaging content on social media, which will further increase awareness of your brand. Thirdly, value-adding content enjoys greater visibility in the search engine results, potentially burying any harmful material in the process.

3. Be Active on Social Media

Social media goes together with content marketing to the extent that both are inexorably intertwined. However, the social element allows you to meaningfully engage with your target audience and existing customers to build lasting relationships. Because user-generated content is so powerful, review platforms and social media sites are often among the first places where buyers conduct research. Businesses need to maintain an active presence on all the main social networks to stay actively involved with their target audiences.

By monitoring what people are saying about your brand on social media, you’ll also be better equipped to identify potential brand advocates. You should always follow your customers’ mentions and comments; get involved in the conversation whenever the opportunity arises. Even just a word of thanks for leaving a positive comment can leave a good enough impression to increase brand loyalty.

4. Respond to Reviews

No one likes being ignored, especially if they have a complaint to make. Every business has the occasional complaint, and addressing these complaints by offering solutions can, in some cases, turn an angry customer into a brand advocate. Such a transformation might sound like a tall order, but it’s often possible to turn constructive criticism around to such an extent that customers may change their reviews.

The ability to solve problems breeds loyalty which, in turn, increases the possibility of earning more brand advocates. At the very least, responding to negative reviews should help mitigate any damage to your reputation. Studies show that employers who leverage negative reviews can increase consumer trust, and even generate additional revenue. If you go over and beyond the call to address the complaint itself, you may be able to transform a once disgruntled customer into a loyal brand ambassador.

5. Personalize Your Marketing

Every customer is different, yet many companies doing business online make the mistake of approaching modern consumers as the faceless masses. Consider, for example, how many spam emails and unwanted email newsletters you receive. Most of the time, they’re not even personalized to the recipient and contain content that is completely irrelevant.

By personalizing your marketing content as much as possible, you’ll be able to show the personality of your brand and forge meaningful relationships. Just like in the real world, being kind and helpful to people is precisely what builds positive relationships and improves reputations. If a customer gets the impression that you care, then it’s a safe bet that they’ll care enough to become advocates of your brand.