According to a study by the agency social@ogilvy, the majority of satisfied customers are a silent majority, keeping their positive experiences to themselves. Most satisfied customers never advocate for a brand on social media - and that means that many brands never benefit from the amplification that such advocacy gives their marketing messages.
The research found a huge disparity between the customer satisfaction scores recorded by brands and the number of occasions when customers shared those positive views with their networks. US hotel groups, for example, regularly reported satisfaction scores of 80 per cent or more, yet this translated into only one piece of social media advocacy per 100 stays.
This failure of satisfied customers to advocate for their favoured brands in meaningful numbers provides ammunition to critics of measures like the Net Promoter Score, which claims to be able to link stated satisfaction and "likelihood to recommend" to a brand’s potential for growth. The new study suggests that there is a significant piece missing from this puzzle; satisfaction will not translate into actual advocacy unless companies take the action required to make it happen.
For its part, social@ogilvy argues that brands need to distinguish their drivers of advocacy from simple drivers of satisfaction. In other words, what will compel your customers to go out and spread the word about your brand rather than just getting a good feeling inside about choosing you? And the study suggests that any brand has the potential to create advocates in this way. The five brands most frequently advocated in the study included two hotel brands, two skincare brands and one fashion retailer, with the positive comments based on tangible features rather than emotion or general brand enthusiasm. The agency argues that it’s a myth that advocacy only occurs in certain categories.
On LinkedIn, we’ve seen some great evidence of what can happen when brands pay attention to the mechanics of advocacy, giving customers the tools, opportunity and (perhaps most importantly) the incentive to share positive views and experiences. It helps of course that LinkedIn members fit the profile most regularly identified for potential advocates. In the auto sector, for example, LinkedIn users are 53 per cent more likely to have posted comments and reviews about cars on the internet.
The most powerful results on the LinkedIn network are achieved by those brands that build on this potential, and leverage the inherent virality and advocacy potential of LinkedIn whereby comments are automatically shared across members’ networks. Dialogue with your company followers and group members enables brands to identify the hot topics that can drive positive advocacy amongst members; recommendation ads, company updates and Sponsored Updates provide an opportunity to trigger that advocacy at scale.
Samsung Mobile used targeted follow company ads to recruit the most likely and most influential potential advocates as company followers – but then built determinedly on this initial engagement. The brand asked followers about the content that they were most interested in, before delivering that content and encouraging its followers to comment and share their views with their networks. For the launch of the Galaxy Note II, Samsung Mobile extended such advocacy beyond the LinkedIn network itself, using an API and campaign microsite to incentivise members to share their reviews.
In doing so, Samsung demonstrated the huge value that advocacy can bring to brands when they take the measures necessary to trigger it. Those that do not know how to turn satisfied customers into advocates are forced to pay a great deal more for the same reach and results.