Brand advocates are the secret weapon to boosting brand awareness and winning more customers. These are people who are willing to market for you, and their genuine advocacy can be more effective than almost any other type of media. You'll need to understand not only where to find potential brand advocates, but also how to nurture them and thank them for their indirect marketing contributions.
The first mistake in finding brand advocates is overthinking. They are already passionate about what you do, so one easy step is to search Twitter, Facebook, industry forums, YouTube and Amazon for people discussing your product. If no one is discussing your product, find out who's talking about your competitors. Find the loudest voices in those spaces. Brand advocates will quickly reveal themselves. They are the ones other people talk about.
Brand advocates are knowledgeable and influential, so be sure to treat them with respect. If they feel pushed or disrespected, they can broadcast their dislike for your brand with alarming speed. The best way to approach them is by opening a dialogue without any expectations. Be honest about your intentions, and don't press them for an endorsement. Feel free to offer them merchandise or discounts in the hope that they'll discuss it with their audience, but do not ask for or expect a quid pro quo.
Never offer them anything in exchange for a positive review. While developing a rapport is essential, stay on message and make sure all your interactions come back around to your product.
Brand advocates are always looking for new content for their audience. Produce your own content and make it simple to find and share. Every article, blog entry, product description and social media post should have sharing buttons prominently displayed. You can also share content directly with brand advocates. They'll appreciate having a reliable source of information. A positive, ongoing relationship with a brand advocate produces a steady (and free) source of favorable buzz.
Once you've established a relationship with brand advocates, give them sneak peeks into your business. Share upcoming product launches. As they talk about your product, return the favor and talk about them. Post their reviews and comments on your website and across all of your social media accounts. Use their reviews in your advertising (with permission, of course). Make them feel valued.
When it works, brand advocacy becomes a perfect symbiotic relationship, benefiting everyone.