Living in the information age can be both a blessing and a curse. Especially for organizations looking to get their brand out there, figuring out the balance of information can be difficult. On the one hand, there are more avenues than ever for advocating your not-for-profit's or association's cause. Social media, search engines, direct mail, and more make it easier than ever to reach your followers.
This ease of access creates a sea of information that can be difficult to wade through—for both organizations and consumers looking to support a cause. The question then becomes, “how can you distinguish your association from the crowd?” The answer is not necessarily straightforward, but there is a way to help you set yourself apart: Authentic Advocacy.
Instead of relying only on marketing tactics and paid ads, Authentic Advocacy seeks to build a strong brand by actually connecting with people. Convinced it's a good idea yet? Let's jump into what building a strong brand with Authentic Advocacy looks like.
Start with Advocacy from Within Your Own House
Starting out in Authentic Advocacy means first identifying individuals within your association that are ready and willing to share the brand. In the business world, these would be called employee evangelists—dedicated individuals within your organization seeking a chance to share the vision and purpose of where they work.
The same goal should remain for associations and not-for-profits in particular. In the not-for-profit world, just as in the business world, employees and staff are the cornerstones of an organization's Authentic Advocacy. Don't worry about getting overwhelmed—you can start small. Start a leadership committee to connect with more partners and volunteers. Introduce project collaboration on new endeavours. You can even gamify online and social media interaction!
Get Social as You Build Your Brand
Speaking of social media, the various platforms associated with this form of communication are crucial to effective, Authentic Advocacy. Once you have that foundation of internal advocates, this is where the first of your action steps for Authentic Advocacy kick in. With nearly a third of the world on social media, there's no question that the majority of advocacy will take place on these platforms.
You should ask yourself how you can take advantage of social media's extensive presence and growth: • Can you make social integration a goal? • Should you increase the amount of personalized content you're putting up? • How can you combine social media marketing and customer relations? • All of these questions are related to both social media and Authentic Advocacy.
Involve Partners and Supporters on Your Quest for Authentic Advocacy
Authentic Advocacy doesn't stop with internal supporters and advocates. As we mentioned, integration with customer relations is a great way to build up a brand with Authentic Advocacy. Customer and membership relations and satisfaction is the crucial point to build up here. Satisfied customers and members can easily turn into advocates, given the right avenue to express themselves.
Utilizing honest online reviews is a great way to both engage with customers and members, and build up potential leads—and it's all authentic! There are a number of social media platforms that facilitated reviews, or you can create fillable review forms on your website so customers and members can post opinions directly. Of course, this will take no small amount of work, up front. But in the long run, it is a much more authentic and personable way to build your brand.
Even with these starting tips, jumping right into Authentic Advocacy can seem a bit overwhelming. If you're not sure which software to utilize in an Authentic Advocacy campaign, online customer reviews, be a fantastic resource for helping you wade through the options. Once you have a good grasp of the available tools, you can better decide where to get started.
Brooklin Nash writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he's not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.
Do you have ideas on brand building to share with the association sector? CSAE is always looking for subject matter experts to contribute articles to our blog.