Can You Buy Advocacy?

A Field Guide to Brand Advocates

A Field Guide to Brand Advocates


Social Media
offers an opportunity for brands to be real, reach out to customers and engage. Those that embrace the opportunity can earn respect and grow the number of advocates willing to help promote the brand.

What if your brand can’t leverage Social Media naturally?

You can always employ an agency to run your social campaign for you. But we know this rarely works well, as discussed in my post “Why Marketing Agencies Can’t Do Twitter”. Agencies find it difficult to tap into the heart and soul of a brand. Conversations can become stilted and unnatural, they lack flow due to process and procedure.

So how does a brand, that is very corporate in nature, grow advocacy when it doesn’t have either the trust or willingness to enable it’s staff to engage?

It buys advocacy instead!

Either unwilling or unable to humanise itself through it’s employees online Tesco has taken the corporate, and somewhat tastless approach of buying opinion. Along with it’s $60 million purchase of BzzAgents, Tesco instantly has access to 800,000 consumers willing to promote products in return for coupons and samples. Dave Balter, who is to remain CEO, told AdWeek: “They want to be more social; we want access to their customer base,” he said. “Consumer loyalty leads to advocacy which leads to loyalty.”

What is really maddening about this is that Tesco doesn’t need to take this route. It has thousands of staff it could enable to engage with customers. The majority of those staff are well trained and already customer facing. I am sure plenty would jump at the chance to represent their store locally and be the face of Tesco on Twitter or Facebook in the store catchment area.

Tesco on Twitter

It’s Twitter account @TescoStores has over 7,000 followers but is yet to Tweet. It does have other accounts such as @UKTesco dedicated to customer care with about 400 tweets but other accounts are in various states of neglect or just in sporadic broadcasting mode.

Strangely, it’s US brand, Fresh & Easy has a proactive Twitter profile with over 10,000 followers from a base of just 160 stores. Fresh & Easy tweets are a prime example of a good mix of promotions, offers and consumer engagement that many could learn from.

The Competition

It’s size in the UK is no excuse either as Asda and Sainsburys manage to maintain a healthy relationship with consumers in the social space.

There is no shortcut to good customer service,  the same is true for building brand loyalty. It takes time, hard work and trust.

There may be other motives for this recent acquisition but this does look very much like Tesco made a purchase to satisfy a board that doesn’t want to, either relinquish control to it’s employees, or hasn’t the patience to build real relationships with it’s customers online.

About Sean Clark

Building successful online companies since 1999, we help you market your business online. Whether you need help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC) or Social Media Marketing call us today on 01603 343477 for a free initial consultation.

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