Influencer marketing is a fantastic idea. People believe people, and influencer marketing is all about authentic storytelling for brands who want their message to be heard, trusted, and acted upon.
The traditional influencer model, however, is flawed. Brands make a mistake by developing a strategy based on paying someone with a large number of followers to pretend to “like” their brand or product.
Unsurprisingly, this lacks authenticity and serves to erode rather than build trust. According to YouGov data, 96% of UK adults do not trust these influencers. Salesforce reports that 65% of customers have stopped purchasing from a brand because they perceived their actions as suspicious.
Consumers are increasingly relying on the recommendations of people they know and trust when making purchasing decisions. So, how can brands leverage this? They must reconsider and re-identify who their true influencers are.
Redefining the Influencer
Today’s most successful brands are beginning to treat their customers as a channel in and of themselves. They identify superfans among their existing customer base to drive word-of-mouth growth. These people are known as brand advocates.
They may not be the ones who buy the most, but they have the most influence because they live and breathe the brands they adore. True brand advocates spread the word about their favorite brands to everyone they know. Thus making them the most powerful engine of word of mouth and free customer acquisition available.
Consider the last time you told your friends about an amazing new restaurant you discovered or your favorite hair salon. That is the power of brand advocacy in action
Lululemon, a multibillion-dollar global apparel company, is a prime example of this. Customers believe in the company’s vision and support its mission. They are also quick to share stories and persuade their friends and family to buy Lululemon products. Lululemon does not pay celebrities to promote its products; instead, it relies on its customers to do so effectively.
Turning customers (not “influencers”) into advocates
Creating a community of advocates and then pushing them to drive word-of-mouth growth is difficult (especially at scale). But it’s critical to a brand’s ability to grow organically in the future.
The first step is to identify who’s in your brand network. After all, every brand is made up of people. first and foremost – customers, but also employees, industry experts, in-store associates, and so on. Once you’ve identified your brand’s core communities, you must devise a strategy to engage, celebrate, reward, and activate each one.
Building a community of brand advocates:
5 main tips for how to build a community of brand advocates:
- Creating advocacy and loyalty clubs to reward top customers, while encouraging them to promote and support your brand further.
- Enabling passionate communities of professionals and experts to promote a brand and recommend products to their online and social networks.
- Rewarding customers with exclusive perks, benefits, and exclusive sales for completing activities that support the brand, such as content creation, referrals, and reviews.
- Developing a brand ambassador program to identify and reward top customers who promote the brand on social media.
- Providing training and resources to employees to empower them to become brand advocates.
The Benefits of Grassroots Marketing
There are numerous advantages to using grassroots marketing. For starters, it enables brands to establish trust and authenticity with their customers. Customers are more likely to trust and act when they see their peers recommending a product or service. According to Nielsen, recommendations from people we know are the most trusted form of advertising.
Grassroots marketing also enables brands to reach a larger audience at a lower cost. Traditional influencer marketing can be costly, with some influencers charging thousands of dollars for a single sponsored post. Brands can reach a larger audience without breaking the bank by leveraging the power of their own customers.
The ability to target specific communities and niches is another advantage of grassroots marketing. Brands can tailor their message and reach a highly targeted audience by identifying and activating specific communities within their customer base. This is especially beneficial for brands that offer a niche product or service.
Finally, grassroots marketing enables businesses to develop long-term relationships with their customers. Brands can create a loyal and engaged customer base that will continue to promote their products and services for years to come by converting customers into advocates.
The traditional influencer model is flawed and no longer effective in building consumer trust and authenticity. Brands must shift their focus from paying influencers to promote their products to cultivating a community of brand advocates among their existing customer base.
Brands can build trust, reach a larger audience in a more cost-effective manner, target specific communities, and develop long-term relationships with their customers by treating them as a channel in and of themselves.
In a world where consumers are becoming increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising and prefer recommendations from people they know and trust, grassroots marketing is critical to building a successful and sustainable business. So, say goodbye to influencers and hello to communities, because the rise of grassroots marketing is here to stay.