Supercharge your content initiatives the easy way (Co-create with Brand Advocates)

On July 29th 2015, Microsoft launched Windows 10, the new version combining the classic interface of Windows 7 and the new design of Windows 8.

Within 48 hours of the W10 launch, Windows Experience MVP, Aurélio Baboo provided about 712 answers regarding the launch and adoption of Windows 10.

Windows Experience MVP Jamil Lopes, also a Microsoft Regional Director, presented the new features of Windows 10 at Microsoft’s Windows 10 Launch Event which attracted over 600 people.

Though the above are about the popular Windows 10, a much lesser known product Powershell celebrated a different milestone. PowerShell MVP Boe Prox celebrated the one million views mark last month on his blog! 

Why Co-create content with your brand advocates?


Each of these brand advocates extended the reach and increased the credibility of Microsoft in their own unique ways via different kinds of content: Questions & Answers, Presentations, Blogs etc.

Microsoft on it’s part has also supported and evangelized their activities.

Co-creating content or partnering with your brand advocates provides an easy way to super charge your content initiatives and helps in:

  • Increased credibility


92% of consumers trust “recommendations from people I know.” Only 37% trust search engine ads, and just 24% trust online banner ads. (Source: Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey

  • Reduced cost (do I even need to explain this 🙂
    Reduced Costs


  • Motivated Brand Advocates

Motivated Brand Advocates


Your brand advocates love to co-create. They like being a part and are extremely enthusiastic to participate with you. You need to enable it.


  • Word of Mouth Marketing

Word Of Mouth Marketing

Co-creating content with your brand advocates ensures an extremely high level of buy in from them. This leads to them helping you in spreading your content far and wide. It’s a win-win for both.


  • Increase Engagement and better relationships

Co-creation builds relationships

One of the most important benefits of working together and co-creating content with your brand advocates is the deeper relationship you build with them, due to the often high touch engagement with them.

How to co-create content with your brand advocates?

There are a number of ways to co-create content with your brand advocates:

1. Support Forums – Create a support forum where they can answer queries which your other customers might have.

2. Presentations – Invite them to present at your events and support their community events and presentations.

3. Blog – Encourage them to blog, by organizing blog competitions, feature popular bloggers on your digital properties.

Will it slow the process of content creation? Isn’t it tedious?

Yes, and no. If you don’t have a brand advocacy program in place it might seem be slow going, as first you’d need to discover your brand advocates, build a relationship with them and then talk about co-creation. However, you might want to start by approaching those brand advocates who are already out there blogging or providing support by answering customer queries etc.

What if the brand advocate posts something which is not appropriate or misinformation?

Any brand advocacy program would necessarily lay down a few rules of engagement for brand advocates. It would list the do’s and don’ts. Moreover, you would select brand advocates who are appropriate for your brand. You need to purposefully go about creating your Brand Advocacy Program.

When and how should you begin co-creating content with your brand advocates?

Small steps. Begin small, whether it’s asking their help in creating an FAQ which lists the common solutions to how to use your product better or inviting them to share their expertise on your products at a presentation or just blogging. ( You can also grab a copy of 10 ways to get user generated content via your brand advocates on )

Get started Now!


Video: How to build a brand advocacy program

Book: Brand Advocacy Quick Start Guide

How to solve the content creation and reach problem?

How do you ensure that you create enough relevant content? And how do you make sure that your content reaches the right audiences? And do all the above with shrinking budgets, especially on a global scale?

This is crazy, he said. I could see the frustration on his face, that one thick vein which pulsated especially when he was stressed – How do we keep generating so much content, how do we make sure we’re on top of Google searches, how do we ensure that our content is relevant and is reaching the right audiences? Oh! One other thing, how do we ensure that this content marketing is done globally at low or no cost? He finally breathed after that really long non-stop barrage of questions…

The problem with content marketing is real and getting bigger by the day

There was 1 website in 1991 online and today we’re close to a billion. Note: This is just the number of websites not the content. The Indexed Web contains at least 3.32 billion pages (Thursday, 10 July, 2014).

There is upwards of 1.5 Billion pieces of content created on Facebook daily, Million plus videos added on YouTube daily.

Social media doesn’t make it easier

If you have a Facebook page you’ve got some interesting challenges less than 3% of your content is visible to people who have liked your page (3 percent reach is still better than nothing) and we know how difficult it is to create content which people like.

Summary of the content marketing problem

1. Create loads of relevant content

2. Ensure the content is found

3. Ensure that the content is relevant

4. Ensure it is reaching the right audiences

5. Deliver it at a low or no cost?


Is there a magic bullet?

You want it don’t you. Well, yes and no. It’s a technique which was in use from cave man times and is relevant even today. But it’s not a magic bullet, one shot doesn’t solve it. You need to work at it. If you’re willing? All the above five problems are easily solvable.

Yes that includes the low or no cost.

Brand Advocates

Brand advocates are your passionate customers. They are passionate about your brand and it’s products. They typically have a deep commitment to helping others, voluntarily sharing their passion.

Prepare to be amazed at what they can do for you.

Here is an example from Microsoft

imageFigure 1 Source Microsoft MVP Awards Program

The above is just a small snapshot of content created at low or no cost.

Do they do more?

What else do the brand advocates do?

Help improve your products – by participating as early adopters and sharing feedback.

Organizing community events around your products (Nearly 200 MVPs ran almost 10,000 events on SQL Server 2008 and virtualization around the world.)

Online Promotion and Virtual events – Proving the popularity of social media, U.S. MVPs used new social media spaces such as Facebook and Twitter to deliver 22 virtual sessions reaching thousands of people. In a tough economy, MVPs created an online, global version of PDC (Professional Developer Conference), enabling more people to attend virtually.

Customer Support – Together, they answer more than 10 million questions a year!

A variety of forms of relevant content

From content for offline events in terms of presentations, demos, to online events, across social media and directly reaching out and providing answers to other customer problems. Millions of pieces of content are being created by brand advocates.

It’s not just written content. It’s presentations, videos, demos, all possible types of content.

The best part is that the content usually has extremely high relevance. Most brand advocates create content about your product about areas that they might have expertise in, or on areas they find other customers are struggling with etc.

Reaching relevant audiences – The perfect referral engine

clip_image002The most important advantage of working with your brand advocates is the reach they provide. They’re already your customers and they are reaching out via their activities to other customers. It’s the perfect referral engine.

It’s not dependent on Google, or the ways it changes its search algorithms.

It’s not wasteful advertising.


Multiply your reach – The Network Effect

Leverage brand advocates networks 2

Each brand advocate who engages with you has their own independent network of connections and followers.

Each brand advocate you add to your network, multiples the reach of your content.

When you involve brand advocates in creating content for you or sharing your content, you have potential access to their networks.

The advantage is that their audiences are typically relevant and share the same interest as that of the brand advocate and helps increases your reach to relevant audiences.

Well these are big brand tactics it’s not relevant for the small biz, or is it?

Brand advocates are leveraged by not just big corporations but even small ones. You don’t have to have thousands of brand advocates, begin with one. Yes I’m serious, that’s how most of these large corporate brand advocacy programs began.

They didn’t at the outset have 1000s of brand advocates. For e.g. I remember when Microsoft started their Cloud offering of Azure, they initially had less than 50 brand advocates who were interested in it.

You could begin with just one. That one brand advocate can help reach out to their network thereby multiplying your reach tremendously.

What about the cost?

The benefits of content created and promoted by brand advocates far outweighs the costs of managing a brand advocacy program. As the above examples showed, brand advocate contributions benefit the organization in a lot of ways – Content creation, helping it reach relevant customers, helping support other customers etc. The low cost high benefit of having a brand advocacy program is just phenomenal.

The stress on his brow had reduced. He could now see how leveraging brand advocates could help in his content marketing goals. He smiled and was breathing easily, he did have more questions… about how to setup a brand advocacy program etc. (That might just be another article).

To Summarize

Content marketing is tough, you need to create a lot of content and ensure it reaches relevant audiences and this can be expensive. Brand advocates, your most passionate customers are the best way to enhance your content marketing efforts at low or no cost.

Why most social media content strategies fail

Arjuna Bird EyeThe warrior prince Arjuna, the finest archer, when asked by his guru Dronacharya what he can see, reported I can only see the eye of the bird, then shoot said Dronacharya. It was no surprise that Arjuna’s arrow found its mark. He was clear on what he wanted to achieve and unlike his peers he didn’t let other distractions come in the way.

Distraction thy name is social media

We all know this to be true, in fact the web itself can cause to be a major source of distraction and with hyper level of interactions, status messages, photo’s etc. social media can be a major source of distractions. The problem on the corporate side is even more.

Why most social media content initiatives lose money

They assume two pieces are needed in social media, content and engagement. So they keep churning out more and more content and encourage engagement, whether it’s the latest woman’s day campaign dreamed up by their agencies or maybe environment month or what have you. The singular goal being to be there on the happening social networks and that’s where the mistake lies. Unlike Arjuna they miss the most crucial part, the business objective. Note I didn’t just say objective, I said business objective.

How to start with a winning content strategy?

The first step in a winning content strategy is defining the business objective of your content.

Business ObjectivesWhat are valid business objectives?

Activities which help increase revenue or decrease costs. For example

  • Bring in new customer or enable a sale.
  • Reduce costs, e.g. customer support costs.

If seeing the above list you felt, huh is that all, welcome to the party. The above list enables you to impact your business directly and hence are known as business objectives.

What’s missing?

Did you notice something missing in the list up there? Something starting with an E, like Engagement. Engagement is not a business objective but it can be a driver to enable and meet a particular objective. Similarly the below list can be enablers to meet your above business objectives.

Incorrect business objectivesWrong business objectives?

  1. Create Engagement
  2. Increase your brand awareness.
  3. Get leads
  4. Increase traffic to website.
  5. Increase your online reputation
  6. Encourages natural links and optimizes your search engine rankings.
  7. Increases your competitive advantage.

I bet some of the items in the above list caused you to open your mouth, e.g. get leads that’s not a business objective? how can that be? Well a lead firstly needs to be qualified as valid, and even then a valid lead may not result in any business for you. It might not really enable your business objectives. The list above contains possible enablers, which might help meet your business objectives. The mistake made is often confusing these with business objectives.

Enablers v/s Business Objectives

The above list can be treated as enablers or secondary objectives. For e.g. in order to get new customers online you’d need to ensure that you’re right on top in search rankings for appropriate keywords. You’d need to ensure your online reputation is good, you’d need to provide people a safe zone where they can engage with you. All of these objectives are enablers to help meet your primary business objective of getting new customers. Having clarity on your business objectives will help you clearly decide which enablers you need to focus on and to what extent.

Wrong objectives! How incorrect objectives can derail you… (Examples)

Engagement, “Lets provide a place for customers to engage” is probable the most misused objective. This is implemented in the form of a FB page or a presence on Twitter where the company makes daily updates, including the ones like the happy xyz day etc. The issue is that there is no connect between the company objectives and the customer requirements. The content churned out is more likely blah, blah and more blah, thereby not enabling any of the primary business objectives and that’s when budgets get cut, new agencies get appointed etc. As far as possible the purpose of engagement needs to be clearly defined.

When do you define your content business objective? Always at start or after some research?

Each piece of major content needs to have an objective, it needs to either directly or indirectly support the business objective. You need to begin by clearly laying out your business objectives and the supplementary content you’d need to create. Some content might be for increasing search engine rankings, to help drive relevant traffic which could be leads, which could turn into customers. You need to be clear on the purpose of each content you’re churning out and how it’s helping meet the business objectives. Sometimes you need to do some research in advance to figure out what are your probable customers looking out for. Other times you’d need to create content which guides them and answers their queries or pose questions which they aren’t really thinking about.

Are there objectives beyond those with financial impact?

Sure enough there are, but those aren’t primary objectives, they can be secondary ones, which help one achieve a primary objective. Losing sight of primary objectives is the prime reason why many content strategies fail.

Be like Arjuna

Be like Arjuna and not his colleagues, define clear business objectives and then adopt strategies and appropriate tactics. Then create content, which supports you to meet your business objectives.

Update 1: Prevent failure of your social media content strategies – Get the report How to define the business objective of social media programs 

Update 2: Free reportHow to generate lots of content easily with brand advocates (available only till the 28th of May 2014 exclusively to Brand Advocacy Community members).