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Soliciting Social Recommendations: 7 Tips For Unleashing the Potential of Your Advocates


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Your customers are your greatest marketing asset. Who is better to recommend your brand than the people who have already purchased from you? If you want to turn your existing customers into active spokespeople for your brand, take a look at these tips… and unleash the potential of your advocates.

1. Contests, Giveaways and Competitions

One sure-fire way of getting the attention of your customers is to run a competition or contest. Brands have been doing this for years, of course, but these days there’s an added social element.

Car manufacturer Audi is leading the way when it comes to capturing the imagination of its fans. The Audi Facebook page has nearly 7 million ‘Likes’, and the brand focuses on social recommendations to bring the conversation to a whole new level. Audi set out to find their most devoted members of the online ‘Audisphere’. Two hundred of them received an Audi travel mug and flashlight. ‘Audiphiles’ tweeted more than 12,000 times about the hashtag #ProgressIs, creating a viral chain of Audi-related chatter online. The company then chose the best tweets; the winner won a trip to California to test drive Audis and chose a charity to which Audi donated $25,000.

2. Ask the Right Questions

If you want to know more about how your brand is perceived, simply ask your customers. British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat uses its receipts to draw attention to a customer satisfaction survey that gives customers the chance to win a year’s supply of chocolate every time they shop in store or online.

df Offering an incentive is a standard method of obtaining feedback, but be sure to socialize your survey by asking customers to share it once it’s done. As they are already fans, they are likely to share it with their own networks, especially if you offer a great prize such as a year’s supply of chocolate!

3. Activate Their Networks

It is far better to activate existing networks than to set up new ones from scratch. Your advocates may not have wide networks individually, but put them all together and their potential reach is tremendous.

RingCentral demonstrated this in 2012 with this video which shows that social media’s “network effect” is what makes social sharing so powerful.

And a recent Volvo Facebook campaign utilized fans’ networks by getting them to vote for their favorite fun advocate video on Facebook. The campaign soon went viral because of the collective reach of the advocates’ extended networks.

4. Reward Referrals

Many brands give out points, coupons or discounts when you refer a friend, but LivingSocial has a “me plus 3” scheme where you share a link to your latest LivingSocial purchase on your networks. If three of your friends use the link to buy the same item, your purchase is free! That’s a huge incentive to make a recommendation.

5. Use Your Imagination to Reach Customers

Crazy stories get people talking, and Red Bull is all about facilitating big stunts.

dz In April 2013, Red Bull landed Air Drop crates containing 1,000 cans of its new Editions drink into university campuses across the UK. The company encouraged people to share the stunt using Instagram and tweeting #EDITIONSAIRDROP to be part of the hack. The images were shared across Facebook and social media, and students tried to find the drops by talking to each other on Twitter.

It was a great example of an imaginative, buzz-building campaign that went viral. And you don’t need Red Bull’s budget to pull off clever advocate engagement.

6. Use the Right Networks

If you want to connect with your core audience, be sure to use the right networks. Hewlett-Packard wanted to target its business clients to drive social recommendations, so it used the professional network LinkedIn to connect with them.

By setting up a company page and activating the recommendation capability, H-P was able to build a community of 2,000 brand advocates in two weeks. The community generated recommendations for the company in the precise group it had hoped to attract.

7. Say “Thank You”!

It is important to remember that the goodwill of your customers depends on treating them with respect. Remember to say ‘thank you’ when they share your message on their networks – whether it is with points, promotions, coupons or plain old words. Customers like to be appreciated, especially when they are going out of their way to share their enthusiasm for your brand.

If customers are loyal to your brand, they are more than happy to talk about it to their friends. Social networking has increased the reach of that message, so be sure to activate this valuable resource and make your customers part of your marketing team.

Originally published Mar 05, 2014, updated Dec 30, 2022

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