Yes, both of my daughters love their bikinis on the beach!  But as we went wave riding, they learned quickly that that little bikini is no match for the big wave!

The same is true in social!  Sometimes the wave is too big for just company spokespeople and with 70% of online consumers trust peer recommendations #1,  you will need more than just the “bikini” squad.  You need a brand advocate.

A brand advocate is a person who is passionate about your brand and references you as a matter of course.   They could be an influencer or a client or an employee.   Determining your brand advocates is about listening and selecting based on common interests, knowledge, and other key elements critical for your business.

In addition to seeking out your advocates, it is important to determine your best friends, or your tippers. These are those people who influence your brand online and those whom others listen to about your products.

These key influencers have a set of characteristics. Typically, they are people who have strong relationships, and are an expert or authority in a subject. Sometimes influencers are those who get attention, taking an atypical view, or are just loud. I was recently at a virtual conference and heard a speaker talk about an influencer as someone who is honest, trustworthy, and knowledgeable. They have a consistent opinion that is objective and not influenced by someone paying them! These items drive a level of social trust and that trust persuades another person to take action.

Finally, developing social trust is about showcasing care and value. Listen and change where needed. Always be honest, and demonstrate value-add to your clients and the industry.

These are the top elements of your plan to build your brand advocates:

[lb]       Determination of your friends or brand advocates today: A friend is a client, a potential client, or an influencer who recommends your brand, company, or product because they like it so much, they feel compelled to discuss it. Determining those who are your friends or brand advocates is important to your overall social trust plan.

[lb]       Determination of your “best friends” or tippers: These are people who influence the rest of the clients and potential clients online and offline, usually about 5% to 10% of your product’s or category’s population. These tippers are important people for your overall strategy and your company will pay extra attention to them.

[lb]       Brand advocacy strategy: A brand advocacy strategy is a plan to determine those actions your company can take to build brand advocates, or people who are passionate about your brand and reference you as a normal course of business. Part of this strategy could be in the content that you share, your shared vision of a point of view in the market, or even support of a common cause that is outside the primary goal of making profit[md]for example, making the planet a better place.

[lb]       Content activation plan: This is a plan to create content, distribute content, promote content, and measure its success. This content activation plan is usually determined in the Social Business Digital Council. The goal of the content is to showcase your company’s subject matter expertise or point of view (POV). It is critical when starting a community, and for guarding your reputation.

[lb]       Determination of key methods to establish social trust in your space: Based on your company’s goals, a trust plan is formed to create and protect trust through online experiences and dialogues with a company, product, or brand.

With this brand army, you can ride the wave with confidence!!!