Tag Archives: Social Media

How to build your brand advocacy program?

Can you imagine constructing a 20 storey building without a blueprint?

Who needs a blueprint

Obviously not! However, most people go off building a brand advocacy program which might involve thousands of brand advocates just like that!

What is a framework?

The basic structure of something : a set of ideas or facts that provide support for something

The RIDE Framework

The RIDE framework helps you define a brand advocacy program that is unique to your organization. It contains a set of ideas which will help provide the necessary support for your brand advocacy initiative.

It provides a systematic approach to to creating a brand advocacy program.

Why use the RIDE framework?

Most organizations have their own ways of doing things and culture. The RIDE framework provides a  system that you can use and is flexible allowing you you to prioritize based on your situation and company.

What are the Components of the R.I.D.E framework?

It helps you think about the essential pieces which are needed for any successful brand advocacy program.

  • Rewards and Recognition – What’s in it for the brand advocates how are you going to provide them recognition
  • Impact Measurement – What’s the program doing for you, is it helping the organization
  • Discovery – Where and how do you find and discover your brand advocates
  • The 3 E’s – How to Evangelize, Empower and Engage your brand advocates

The hidden step 1 – Define your business objective?

There is a first step in creating your brand advocacy program. It’s about determining why you need it, how it’s going to help the organization. This is often the most critical part. Having a clear business objective ensures long term success of the advocacy program.

RIDE - The Brand Advocacy Framework

Is there a step 0?

Yes. Listening. Often the best way to think about your program, is to start by first listening to the conversations, and examining the content put out by your brand advocates.

More often that not this will help you to get important nuggets proving the necessity of the program. It gives great insight into the needs and issues faced by your customer and helps you see how your brand advocates are filling in gaps which you might not be addressing correctly.

Just like you can’t go about constructing a 20 storey building without a blueprint, the RIDE framework helps you to think through the essential elements necessary for a successful brand advocacy program.

Get started now

Video: How to build a brand advocacy program – Video covers the RIDE framework
Book: Brand Advocacy Book

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 Learn-PowerShell.net 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 www.sanjayshetty.com )

Get started Now!


Video: How to build a brand advocacy program

Book: Brand Advocacy Quick Start Guide

How scarcity and exclusivity helps your brand advocates feel special (and gets you enormous word of mouth publicity?)

ScarcityDo you remember when Gmail was introduced into the market? It was exclusive, there was a select list of people who got access, it was all hush hush or so it seemed. You just couldn’t get one. There were some select individuals who had access to it. These core group of people had exclusive access.

Now here’s the most important part about this. The core group was small. For instance, among my network of friends only one had received access. Not everybody had access. Access was scarce.

The only way you could get onto trying out Gmail was if they (the exclusive initial users) gave you access. When I got access I promptly gave it to my network of colleagues, friends and family.

People just couldn’t stop talking about it.

There was stiff competition

Now remember Gmail wasn’t Gmail as it is today. There were a lot of other big name players in the market; Hotmail, Yahoo Mail etc. But this combination of ingredients, Exclusivity, Scarcity and leveraging networks caused an enormous amount of people to get talking about it.

How easy availability could mean low perceived value

Time and again brands lose value when they lose sight of this basic human principle of scarcity and exclusivity. I’ve often seen it in retail. Two adjacent stores containing the same brand product. Or going into a mall and finding the same shirt in all 5 stores in the mall.

It might seem that making it more available would make it easier for people to buy it, however, more often than not it doesn’t.

Increase in Value, even though it was free

Email ids were freely available, there was nothing outstanding that Gmail was offering, yet it piqued people’s interest, everyone wanted a Gmail id.

Barrier to entry

Restricting the access to some select people had a dual effect. The people who got access felt extremely special. The felt part of an elite exclusive group and they went ahead and expressed it to their friends and family, asking if they would like a Gmail id, thereby causing massive word of mouth publicity.

Getting early access to resources helps people feel special

“The Windows Insider Program, where PC experts and IT Pros can get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops. Soon after, we’ll also be releasing technical previews of Windows Server and our management tools.”

That’s from an announcement Microsoft did when they launched the Windows Insider Program – only the people in this program got access to Windows 10 before the rest of the market.

It was perceived to be exclusive and scarce.


Objection! I don’t know what or how I can restrict access to… and make people feel special

Let me take on a few quick examples of how one can do this in almost any sector/industry.


– Last few rooms at x price.

– Open bar from 5-5:30 for select customers


– Entrance exam on x date.

– Admission forms available only till 10th November…

– Open day on Y date. An exclusive opportunity to meet all the faculty personally.

Music Company:

– Invite only access to meet the singer personally while he/she launches the next album

– Backstage pass

Fashion House:

– Exclusive peek at upcoming designs

Consulting Firm:

– Exclusive conference/Seminar for CEO’s with one-on-one consulting with top management

More ideas on how you can provide restricted access and help brand advocates feel special
   – Early peeks at your upcoming products
– Meetings with your management team
– Reserved seating at your events
– Exclusive discounts for your products
– Showcasing the client at your events/website/blog… social channels.


The big reason why

There is another reason why companies might often find it useful to introduce scarcity.

Often when you’re planning to launch a new product or service you might want to test market it in the real world to understand product acceptance and to figure out and iron out any issues, which you may not have seen.

This practice has often proven invaluable in discovering glitches or understand what aspect of the product or service really matters to your customer. At this stage of testing or launching a new product involving all your customers would not necessarily be useful as you’re still testing the waters. However, the fact that you’ve invited a few of your customers to be a part of this will make them feel special and will give you invaluable insight.

Scarcity and exclusivity often create demand and value

Just like Google did with Gmail, Microsoft with their Insider Program and so many other companies, applying principles of scarcity and exclusivity can help your brand advocates feel special and cause them to generate enormous word of mouth publicity for you.

Have you seen an example of scarcity and how it has created demand or value or helped in increasing word of mouth? Do share in the comments below.

The big mistake in Starting a branded community (and how to fix it)

When you’re starting out with building a corporate community there is an important step you need to take, that of defining business objectives. Without being clear on your objectives it’s kind of difficult to achieve much. However, this is just one half of the equation.

Typical business objectives

Company ObjectivesMost business driven branded community initiatives pursue objectives like increasing business or maybe reducing costs, or enabling word of mouth marketing.

Typical Community objectives

Community Objectives

Most communities are focused around getting help, access to expert advice, learning more about the product/service, it’s about helping one another, stepping up and being there, and networking.


The challenge with community programs

Isolated Objectives

How do you match business objectives with community objectives? You need to create and evolve shared objectives as starting your community with only your business objectives is not going to go too far.

You need to evolve shared objectives

Shared Objectives

Examples of Shared Objectives

1. You want to reach potential new customers via free word of mouth marketing – Empower them – Make the community members feel special, provide them first and exclusive access to your products and services. Heck announce it via them, make them a part of your product or service launches. Example Microsoft often launches new software products along with key speakers being from their communities, their MVP’s and RD’s or community leaders. Leverage Influencer and Partner Networks

Making them a part of your programs, empowers them, compelling them to share with their networks. This gives your messages massive reach, enabling word of mouth marketing, the most convincing method for enabling a sale.

2. You want to reduce support costs – Most community members often pay it forward. They want to help others and they do like the gratification of being seen as experts. Everybody likes to be recognized and rewarded. You need to evangelize the key contributions made by your key community members. Microsoft MVP’s answered more than 10 million questions a year. Can you even begin to calculate the ROI of that.

3. Innovation – We all want our products to be better, matching the exact requirements of our clients, we want them to provide feedback on our products and services. It obviously helps to reduce the R&D and the testing costs. Provide the community the opportunity to  Engage with you. They often know your product better than your internal employees as they are using it day in and day out. Enable them to tell you what they want the product to do, encourage engagement and feedback. Let them know how their feedback is changing the way you are evolving the product.

Business Objectives Community Objectives
You want free word of mouth marketing Empower them – They want first, exclusive access, make them feel special.
You want to reduce support costs They want to help others and be seen as experts, They want to be recognized and rewarded – Evangelize the advocates.
You want to innovate and want feedback on your product Engage – They want the product to do more specific things which help your product innovate. They test it, helping you iron out the bugs. It helps if they get first access.

Shared Objectives

You need to evolve the specific shared objectives between your business goals and your community members goals.


Most corporate communities anyways run the risk of becoming online ghost towns. Beginning with shared objectives enables you to involve your community members upfront and get deeper buy in.

What are the shared objectives you’ve defined for your community. Drop me a note in the comments below.

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).