His brows raised high up, mouth wide open, in total awe he said, can you believe it they have a one year waiting period to get into their brand advocacy program, what’s even more amazing it’s limited to just a 130 people worldwide. How can I get in? Could you tell me what to do?
And in another completely contrasting conversation, Just fill this form and you’re in, part of our loyalty program… what did you think I did, I just smiled and walked away.
The first conversation was by a person who wanted to know how to get into a particular brand advocacy program by one of the largest software companies in the world. The other conversation… it’s not worth even mentioning.
The barrier advantage
As soon as you see a line of people snaking outside a store, you’re almost certain there is something of value. You curiosity is definitely piqued.
But there is a bigger reason to have a barrier to your brand advocacy program, it allows you to get the most passionate the most dedicated people in and keeps the masses away.
Note I’m not saying the masses are bad, but when you want a tight knit team you can depend on, you need to be extremely choosy.
And barriers help you qualify, and not just have anybody who may not currently be right for your brand advocacy program.
In fact you’ll realize that for different stages of your brand advocacy program you’ll probably need different kinds of brand advocates, more on that in another article.
Won’t barriers piss people off?
It will piss people off, and mostly those are the kinds of people you really don’t want in your brand advocacy program.
In your brand advocacy program you want the people who are cheering for you, the people who are concerned about you. No, they’re not yes men, they’re probably your most open and vocal critics but they’re providing you that feedback because they believe in you and hope that you do the needful.
They’re not the kind of people who just want to poke holes and look good. They are passionate well-wishers. They’re the kind of people who don’t need to be really told, they’re the ones who passionately reach out to others as they want to help them.
So yes barriers can piss people off and you need to be careful of the kind of barriers you put in place to ensure that you get the people who are appropriate for you inside and the others outside.
What are the good barriers you need to put in your brand advocacy program?
Brand advocates are typically experts about a product, they’re passionately interested and others look up to them for advice as they know the innards of the particular product.
It’s easy to spot these experts, they could be authors of articles, books or even passionately blogging or speaking about your product or service. Providing tips and sharing best practices and supporting others.
You want these passionate experts to be a part of your inner circle of brand advocates. You definitely want this barrier in place to ensure success of your brand advocacy program.
2. Activity level
Brand Advocacy is never a onetime activity.
Unlike a person who likes a typical Facebook page and then in all probability never returns to the page. The brand advocate is a regular, who is constantly involved with the product and regularly interacts with your team, provides guidance on a regular basis or blogs regularly about your product or service.
A good way of evaluating a brand advocate is the level of activity, for instance the number of conversations or blog posts or sessions they speak at about your product or service.
Moreover, you might want them to report back to you about their activities. Making sure that they are aware of this can at times ensure that only the most active participants make it into the program.
Often you might ask them to share why they should be considered to be part of your brand advocacy program. This could be in the form of them sharing for instance their blog posts or list of sessions they’ve spoken at or similar other activities they may have been doing.
It helps to ensure that they are aware that you expect to know and encourage the regular sharing of activity details as part of the program.
This is a different one with multiple aspects, so do pay extra attention.
Brand advocates though they’re long time participants, are not necessarily good for each stage of your brand advocacy program. Sometimes your best brand advocates might not necessarily be visible online or might not be visible publicly. However, in the start-up phase of your brand advocacy program you might want to include people who are more vocal online or offline and are more visible out there in the public view. You might want people to be included whose frequency of visible activity is on the higher side.
As your program grows over a period of time you might focus on a different set of brand advocates.
Additionally, you don’t want your brand advocates to just be around, so putting in a time barrier like a renewal period for e.g. once a year might be a great idea to ensure that your brand advocacy program has the relevant advocates in them.
It also ensures that your brand advocates clearly know that they will be revaluated at a certain point of time. This is a very different kind of barrier and you need it to ensure the success of your program.
Can you have different brand advocacy programs with different barriers? Should we have one or more barriers?
Yes can definitely have different barriers for different brand advocacy programs. For e.g. look at Microsoft’s brand advocacy programs, you have the MVP and the Regional Director(RD) program. Here there are various different kind of barriers. The MVP program has close to 4000 people as part of it, whereas the RD program has typically had less than 150 members in it. Similarly in the MVP program MVP’s are selected based on demonstrated expertise in one specific product. The MVP program duration is for a period of one year, the RD program is for two years now, it initially was a yearly program too.
There are multiple different kinds of barriers in play here, however be careful, you don’t want to piss of the good guys. You want to be selective for sure, but not restrictive to the extent of alienating the people you want to be inside.
Barriers are essential to ensure a healthy brand advocacy program
To summarize, barriers can prove to be extremely beneficial, and judicious barriers are essential for the success of your brand advocacy program. Barriers ensure you have the right kind of participants at different stages of your brand advocacy program to meet your success metrics. You need to evaluate which barriers put in place to get the apt brand advocates for your program.