All About Brand Advocates and Social Marketing

Hey, no one ever said that we were poets at Zuberance, but we do know a thing or two about Brand Advocates and love.

Brand Advocates love your brand, product and/or service on a daily basis and they want others to love you, too. What do you do to let your Brand Advocates know that you love and appreciate them, too?

Without giving away free products and offering incentives, showing your Brand Advocates some affection can be as easy as sending them an email and thanking them for being awesome. Seriously, just an email — recognizing and thanking Advocates means the world to them. If you have swag on hand and want to go the extra mile, Brand Advocates probably won’t refuse a branded gift.

Marc Jacobs is saying thanks to its Advocates, while dabbling in influencer marketing.

“Over the years, the Daisy brand has built a considerable following in social media, and to us, the whole undertaking is a way to say a big thank you to the people who love Daisy and are constantly finding creative ways to show their affection for the brand,” Lori Singer, group VP of global marketing for Coty Prestige (Marc Jacobs’s fragrance licensor), told Mashable.

You can walk into the Marc Jacobs pop-up shop in Manhattan and take selfies, and post to social networks in exchange for branded products. It’s a great way to say thanks, and create a buzz, but those who love you will share the love with their networks, regardless.


#MJDaisyChain photos from Instagram

Examples of Rewarding Advocates

  1. Sneak peeks. Consumer Electronics manufacturers can give Advocates a sneak peek of a new DVR or what the new software version will include.
  2. Exclusive offers. Don’t give Advocates the same offers you give to all customers. Give them unique offers that show you recognize them as your true VIPs. Hotels can give Advocates a weekend package accessible only to the Advocate and their friends.
  3. Ask for opinions. Apparel companies thinking about a new line can give Advocates the opportunity to voice their opinions about the line before others.
  4. Give contributions to nonprofit causes. One of the best ways to reward Brand Advocates is to make cash and/or in-kind contributions to deserving nonprofit organizations on behalf of your Advocates. This approach motivates advocates. boosts your corporate image and reputation, and serves a useful social purpose.
  5. Acknowledge advocates. Let them know their recommendations matter. You can show Advocates which of their friends they’ve recommended that are now customers and Advocates themselves.
  6. Advocate-only events. Restaurants can hold a special in-person event for Advocates to get an exclusive preview of new menu items and meet the executive chef.
  7. Give early access. Retailers can open a store one hour early. Let your Advocates be beta testers.
  8. Give access to company leaders. Starbucks Melody had an opportunity to meet Starbucks’ founder, Howard Schultz. Even if you don’t have a rockstar CEO, giving Advocates the opportunity to have direct dialogue with senior leaders of your company can make them feel special.
  9. Provide VIP levels of service. Hotels can provide Advocates with a town car or limo while they stay at the property or a personal VIP guide. Software providers can offer advocates a special help disk for VIP customers only.
  10. Honor your advocates. Highlight your Advocates with an “Advocate of the Week” program. This is a great way to encourage Advocacy without paying for it.

How do you thank your Brand Advocates?


This article originally appeared on Business 2 Community

Referrals are the marketing lifeblood for many companies. According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA), 90 percent of small businesses rely on word-of-mouth referrals. And Nielsen reports that people are four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend.

>>Webinar: How to Generate Thousands of Referral Leads via Brand Advocates<<

Are you looking to get more ROI from your refer-a-friend program? Here are three new ways to get more bang for your refer-a-friend bucks:

1. Get Advocates to rate and review your products

Your Advocates will do more than refer friends to you. They’ll also create valuable content like glowing testimonials and highly positive reviews that boost your online ratings and rankings on shopping sites.

Consumer electronics company TiVo recently ran a highly successful refer-a-friend campaign. The company generated over 100,000 referrals and millions of social media impressions.

A whopping 54 percent of TiVo Advocates who referred friends also have recommended TiVo by writing and publishing positive reviews on shopping sites or advocating TiVo in other ways. This has helped TiVo increase its star ratings on, Best and other sites.

To get referrals and content, you’re going to need an Advocate marketing platform that enables Advocates to recommend your brand and products in both these ways and more. This platform should provide you with a single view of each Advocate so you don’t create separate silos of data about Advocates.

2. Use refer-a-friend promotions to amplify your brand message

A well-known Las Vegas hotel that has spent millions on a major renovation is launching a refer-a-friend campaign that encourages happy guests to tell friends about the hotel’s facelift.

Advocates will create and share stories about their experiences at the newly-renovated hotel. Advocates  can earn up to ten nights’ free stays for referring friends who stay at the hotel. Plus, Advocates and their friends are entered into a drawing for a Grand Prize: an all-expenses weekend at the hotel including a free room in the hotel’s celebrity suite.

Refer-a-friend campaigns and programs should be managed by demand generation specialists in your company. But you should be involving branding and social media teams in the process of creating refer-a-friend promotions.

3. Support a worthy social cause

Most refer-a-friend campaigns are little more than bounty-hunting: you bring us a new customer, we’ll pay you a fee. While this can and does work in many cases, why not create a refer-a-friend incentive that people feel good about and increases brand engagement?

Norton, the consumer brand of Symantec, generated thousands of recommendations and referrals when it provided donations to Computers for Youth on behalf of Norton Advocates. The companies generated over 10,000 referrals and, at the same time, helped needy kids get computers.

Chances are, your company already has a favorite cause or charity it supports. If not, pick a worthy non-profit or other cause that matters to your Advocates. Then, make donations on behalf of Advocates who refer friends. Everyone wins.

>>Webinar: How to Generate Thousands of Referral Leads via Brand Advocates<<

Are you looking for ways to get more value and ROI from your referral marketing program? Or perhaps you’re eager to get started with referral marketing.

In either case, you don’t want to miss this exciting, live webinar with Zuberance CEO and Founder, Rob Fuggetta, about how to generate thousands of referral leads via your enthusiastic customers (AKA “Brand Advocates”).

TiVo recently generated more than 100,000 referrals and responses, and reached over 10 million prospects on social media.


Wednesday, February 5, 2014 • 11 Pacific / 2 Eastern 

Register to learn how to:

• Tap into your Brand Advocates to get thousands of referrals
• Avoid the three biggest mistakes of referral marketing
• Mobilize your Brand Advocates to be your most powerful marketing force in 5 other ways

Who Should Attend?
Marketing professionals responsible for:

• Demand & Lead Generation
• Customer Acquisition
• Direct Marketing
• Refer-a-friend, Referral Marketing
• WOM, Advocate Marketing, Social Marketing

Wednesday, February 5, 2014 • 11 Pacific / 2 Eastern 


10 attendees will receive a complimentary copy of Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force by Rob Fuggetta


Facebook’s algorithm is consistently changing to showcase more human vs. brand updates, Google’s endorsements feature recommendations from friends and there’s nothing stopping customers from increasing or decreasing your online reputation.

We are constantly surrounded by advertisements, posts and updates from brands. How do consumers filter through the noise and find what they really want to know?

A new study from Nielsen states 84% of global consumers say recommendations from “people I know.” This rates higher than other sources of advertising.

48%  of holiday shoppers said online rating and reviews frequently or always influenced their purchases. That’s 3 times more than the influence of ads.


Negative online reviews:

  • Send consumers elsewhere with their dollar
  • Decrease sales
  • Damage your brand’s valuable reputation
  • Encourage consumers to spread negative word of mouth about your brand: “I wouldn’t eat at that restaurant, I read terrible reviews about it on Yelp.”

What happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas, it ends up on

A popular hotel in Las Vegas, and Zuberance client’s, number one marketing priority is to move their rankings and reviews up on, the honest way. The Vegas hotel asked their Advocates who had recently written a review to publish it to

In just a couple of weeks, a 67% email open rate with a 35% click-through rate yielded the hotel moving up 5 spots with 44 new reviews. Imagine the positive and authentic results they will have when they ask their Advocates, who have not written a review, to write and publish one?


This hotel could write social media posts and emails about how awesome they are, but I’m not going to believe it unless my friend says it. Your customers are your most powerful marketing force.

Ask your Advocates to write a review or recommendation, and make it easy for them to create and publish.

Your brand’s online reputation matters now more than ever because consumers are listening to their friends, family and personal networks — not your ad or tweet. Tweet: Your brand's online reputation matters now more than ever because consumers are listening to their friends

Holiday shoppers relied on online ratings and reviews more  than any other factor when making purchase decisions, according to the 4th annual holiday shopping survey by e-tailing group, Baynote.


Negative online reviews kill sales and damage your brand’s cherished reputation. Even a couple of bad reviews can stop shoppers dead in their tracks.

48%  of holiday shoppers said online rating and reviews frequently or always influenced their purchases. That’s 3 times more than the influence of ads.

You do not know how many sales you’re losing from bad reviews. It’s probably a lot more than you think. By energizing your Advocates to create reviews, you can:

  • Increase or maintain online ratings for your products and services
  • Get more reviews online, expanding your share of voice on shopping and review sites
  • Combat negative word of mouth
  • Boost purchase consideration and sales

Advocates to the Rescue

Here are three companies that have boosted online ratings by energizing their advocates:

  • Skype’s ratings for its analog telephone adapter product jumped from 2/8 stars on after Advocates posted reviews.
  • Safelite saw its star ratings on leap from 2/35 to 4 stars after its Advocates wrote reviews. The average star rating for Advocate reviews was 4.9 out of 5 stars.
  • Ooma has doubled its product ratings on and other sites by energizing Advocates.

Critics may charge that by encouraging Advocates to write and publish reviews, companies are “stuffing the ballot box.” There’s no question that Advocates are more likely than Detractors to write positive reviews than negative ones, but I believe encouraging Advocates to write and publish reviews is fair and ethical.

  • Companies are not paying Advocates or providing incentives for their reviews
  • Companies are not coaching or providing guidance on what Advocates should say, or how they should say it
  • People who have had good experiences with your products or services may not speak up unless you make it easy for them.

The power of ratings and reviews continues to shine through and amplify the need for Advocate marketing programs that drive positive word of mouth.


Excerpt from Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force  (Wiley; ISBN: 978-1-1183-3603-8; July 2012; Hardcover & E-book)

Referral leads are the sales and marketing lifeblood for many companies.

Yet, many companies’ referral marketing programs are missing the mark. One big shortcoming: most refer-a-friend tools don’t focus on Advocates: customers and others who refer friends because they’re loyal to the brand. Instead, they rely on people motivated solely by personal gain: influencers.

Today, Zuberance is launching a new referral marketing solution that leverages Brand Advocates as a powerful referral marketing force. By tapping into authentic Advocates, Zuberance delivers brands thousands of qualified referral leads, enabling marketers to fill the sales funnel with prospects referred by trusted Advocates.

Advocate Referrals Press Release

Most importantly, Zuberance’s approach enables brands to mobilize their Advocate Army in other ways like:

  • Creating highly positive product and service reviews
  •  Telling your brand story
  • Answering prospects’ questions

…and more

Recently, TiVo leveraged Zuberance’s Advocate Referrals solution for a highly successful referral marketing campaign to promote TiVo’s highly acclaimed new TiVo Roamio® DVR.

In only 30 days, TiVo:

  • Engaged over 50,000 Advocates (many of these Advocates had previously recommended TiVo in other ways)
  • Generated more than 100,000 referrals and responses
  • Reached over 10 million prospects on Facebook, Twitter, and other channels

Learn more about TiVo’s success and Zuberance’s new Advocate Referrals solution on Feburary 5:

Referral Marketing Webinar



photo 1Give sneak peaks, exclusive offers, early access. Ask for opinions, give contributions to non profits, hold special events, give access to company leaders and VIP events.

How do you thank your Brand Advocates and let them know they matter?

I advocate for Whole Foods and Whole Foods Virginia Beach because I enjoy their employees, service and The Porch. From buy one get one free pizzas on Tuesdays, to daily specials and rare beer tappings at The Porch, Whole Foods is one of my favorite places to go in Virginia Beach.

Top 10 Ways to Thank Advocates Infographic

I often tweet, post on Instagram and Facebook about Whole Foods’ happenings, favorites and getting work done there (yes, beer + blogging) because I’m an Advocate, not because I expect anything in return.

Brand Advocates are your most enthusiastic customers. They sell your products, give you referral leads, tell your brand story and defend you from Detractors. They create content more compelling and credible than your most skilled wordsmith, and they share this content and more with their social networks, serving as a highly efficient distribution channel. – Brand Advocates: Turning Enthusiastic Customers into a Powerful Marketing Force

Advocates evangelize you without payments or points, coupons or cash. You can’t buy authentic Advocates. their advocacy is not for sale, but you can thank them.

Even after living and breathing Brand Advocacy for 4 years and being a social media strategist, I’m still blown away and grateful when brands recognize their Advocates.

Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 10.51.26 AM

Yesterday, Whole Foods Virginia Beach sent me a direct message on Twitter and I was so excited. I grabbed a coffee from The Porch first thing this morning, then headed over to customer service to see what was left for me.

photo 4 photo 3

Maria could have just sent me a tweet thanking me and that would’ve been satisfying, but she took the extra step to send some cheer my way. A handmade card, handwritten note, gift card and a reusable burlap bag. Awesome.

Of course brands can’t do this for all of their Advocates, and it’s not expected that they do, but a simple tweet, thank you note or even an email saying You Rockdoes the job.

Top 10 Ways to Thank Advocates Infographic

Failing to recognize your Advocates can make them less likely to recommend you. How do you thank your volunteer sales and marketing force?

Your Advocates are everywhere, are you ready to identify, energize and thank them? Let’s chat!


Facebook’s news feed algorithm change does not favor brands.

People want to see more relevant news and what their friends have to say about it, according to Facebook’s News Feed FYI.

According to a report by Ignite, in the week since December 1, organic reach and organic reach percentage have each declined by 44% on average, with some pages seeing declines as high as 88%.

Many digital marketers are shouting from the rooftops “If we can’t even reach those who like our page and engage, what’s the point?”

You do not have to pay, or give up hope. Just because Facebook’s algorithm has changed, doesn’t mean your content and messages are, you just have to leverage your brand advocates.

Brand advocates are people who highly recommend brands and products without being paid to do so. Brand advocates are a company’s most engaged, loyal and valuable customers—a volunteer sales and marketing force.

Advocates’ recommendations are the number one influencer of purchase decisions and brand perceptions in nearly every product category from smartphones to software, hotels to housewares, cars to computers, and financial services to memberships.

In a recent Zuberance survey, 89% of Advocates said their friends buy or consider purchasing the products and services they recommend. Many consumers and business buyers ignore, skip, and TiVo out ads, but when advocates recommend something, consumers will go out of their way to buy it.

Brand Advocate receives email:


Brand Advocate shares offer:

Brand Advocate’s Friends See Your Brand in their News feed:

Sharing an offer is one of many ways for brands to get noticed and to stay relevant. Fueling Advocates with the content you want shared is key—their friends will see it, consume it and probably act on it.

Companies that systematically identify and energize Brand Advocates are getting at least a 10X ROI in media and sales value, shown by our analysis of the Zuberance-powered advocacy program. In other words, for every $1 a company invests in energizing Advocates, the company gets $10 in positive WOM impressions and sales. This 10X “Return on Advocacy” is significantly higher than the return that marketers get from paid search campaigns on Google and other marketing approaches.

Brand Advocates are motivated by good experiences and a desire to help others. Brands that work with Zuberance have never paid or provided an incentive to a single Advocate for their recommendation.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to identify and mobilize your brand advocates.  

A new study from Nielsen states 84% of global consumers say recommendations from “people I know.” This rates higher than other sources of advertising.

Screen Shot 2013-11-21 at 2.00.44 PM


Since customers trust messages from their networks versus any kind of brand messaging, do you ensure your Brand Advocates (your volunteer sales and marketing force) are recommending, reviewing and promoting your products and/or services?

4 Ways Brand Advocates Spread Holiday Cheer

Share Stories: Energize Advocates to post positive stories on their social networks and third party review sites. Rubio’s Advocates enjoy sharing their personal story about the first time they had an Original Fish Taco. When Advocates share stories it generates valuable content, boosts SEO and increases sales.


Offers & Promotions: Advocates love, and don’t hesitate, to share offers and promotions with their networks. Give Advocates the tools to make it easy to share holiday offers, promotions and insider information to their networks. After all, they’re a trusted source for recommendations and referrals.


Reviews:  Mobilize Advocates to post positive reviews on shopping sites, their social networks and your brand’s website. Positive reviews boost ratings/rankings and SEO, valuable content, and increase sales. 67% of positive reviews of a consumer electronics client on were written by Zuberance-powered Advocates.

Answers: Advocates are happy and willing to answer prospects’ questions. By answer questions, Advocates generate thousands of referral leads, clicks, sales and cut customer acquisition costs. 25% of prospects who had their questions answered by a Zuberance client’s Advocates purchased the product.

How are you leveraging your volunteer sales and marketing force?

New infographic: 10 Ways to Reward Brand Advocates


In_the_Wild_1aWord of Mouth in the Wild is a biweekly feature from Zuberance highlighting the many different ways consumers make and look for recommendations before and after purchases. Today’s consumer puts great trust in their personal and social networks, more so than any form of branded-advertising.

Word of mouth is the most important part of consumers’ decision making process. Recommendations, reviews and referrals come in all shapes and sizes.


This twitter user wasn’t asked for their opinion or recommendation of internet radio providers. Advocates recommend products and services that make them happy because they want others to feel the same joy. TwitterBirdThe next time you go to listen to music online, you’re going to remember this tweet. You may explore Pandora and iTunes and make a decision for yourself, but you’re going to be influenced by this recommendation. You may already love iTunes Radio and are now checking out Pandora.

Weight Watchers

Another indirect recommendation for a product. This male Facebook user sends weekly updates praising the Weight Watchers program and how it has positively impacted his life. How many more males are checking out Weight Watchers or willing to give it a chance now? Once primarily known as a female program, males are now giving it a shot and loving it. The next time Weight Watchers comes out with a new product, extension or recipe, you can bet their Advocates are going to be sharing it with their networks.

Brands have to do more than exist. Identifying, engaging with and energizing Advocates to take action is the key to success. Check out the latest infographic: Top Ten Ways to Reward Brand Advocates. Giving Advocates early access and a simple ‘thank you’ will go a long way for your brand.

Advocates are your volunteer sales and marketing force, and they’re already talking about you. Take charge and fuel them with the content you want to spread.

Click to read more examples of Word of Mouth in the Wild.