Building Social Word-of-Mouth and Social Brand Advocacy represent, for a lot of marketers, a significant leap of faith. It makes you feel like you’re giving up a bit of control because you can’t design it like an ad, write it like a blog post or set it up as a campaign. But, cliché as it is, if you do it right – leap and the safety net will appear.

Your advocates will support you, defend you in the darkest corners of the Internet and yes, they’ll talk about you. You can’t precisely control their message…and that’s OK, because the people listening to your advocates trust their word more and it creates more positive impact across more elements of your business than you can imagine. At least if they’re sharing it in social, you have a much better chance of getting your content directly shared and endorsed, which is at least one element of control in building this Social Word-of-Mouth that should let you sleep a little better.

Knowing that organic reach is as long as T-Rex arms, if social paid media costs were a stock we’d all be rich and if pushing the like button equaled sales the C-Suite wouldn’t need metrics anymore, it’s time to take a new approach that builds something sustainable, that’s trusted and that MediaPost is calling the next Social Media Phenomenon.

But, the playbook is a little different – you’re figuring out who is really engaged and passionate about your brand vs. the celebrity tweeting about how awesome their new Samsung is from their iPhone. Here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind.

  • Don’t make it about buying the product or promoting the brand.
  • Do make it about how the product and the brand fit into their lives.
  • Don’t make it a one-sided “relationship.” If all you’re doing is giving them content to share, that’s not advocacy.
  • Domake it a two-sided relationship. Get insights, surprise and delight them, chat with them about new ideas, let them show you what your brand means to them because sharing that message is far more impactful.
  • Don’t make it about the masses. It’s not an advocate army ready to push the share button when commanded, turning into short-term engagements and less impact.
  • Do make it about finding your best, most passionate fans and igniting their excitement to build a community. Truly excited people will create a greater ripple effect that grows instead of one splash.
  • Don’t make it a campaign. Campaigns have specific beginnings and ends, specific messages, specific short-term objectives.
  • Domake it a movement that sustainably builds brand equity and positively impacts every part of your business, including the bottom line. 
  • Don’t underestimate the impact.
  • Do understand the difference in impact and reach that advocates have.

If you gave me a choice between Matthew McConaughey tweeting “Alrightalrightalright…Love my Lincoln” to his 1.63 Million followers and a Brand Advocate community of 40 – their follower count is irrelevant – Give me the Advocate Community every day and twice on Tuesday. I guarantee the impact – from brand impressions to sales, will be greater.