Few brands driving online influence and advocacy, study shows


A new Ogilvy research study suggests that up to 80% of reach from marketing campaigns now comes from social media amplification through consumer influence and advocacy.

However, few are doing it well!

Positive advocacy mentions represented just 15% of all brand mentions, with the remainder being either neutral or negative mentions. However, when the company dove deeper into specific industries, they found huge opportunities. For example, in the US hotel category, they found less than 1 positive mention per 100 stays. With some of the studied hotels reporting guest satisfaction scores of 80% or more, there is clearly a large social advocacy gap: the vast majority of people satisfied with their experience aren’t advocating online.

Ogilvy analyzed 7 million brand social mentions across 4 countries (Brazil, China, UK, US) and 22 brands to find the key drivers of advocacy. These included:

  • Product features trump emotion in advocacy mentions
  • Advocacy can occur anywhere. No category is boring.
  • China boasts the highest level of consumer brand advocacy (by far)
  • For most brands, the majority of mentions were embedded in casual consumer conversations.

The study also included ways that brands are successfully enabling advocacy:

  • To drive passionate advocacy, brands have to know and focus on their fans’ true advocacy (not satisfaction) inspirations.
    For example, using tools that help identify “clusters” of discussion, Ogilvy noticed that Holiday Inn’s breakfast tends to drive more advocacy than its peers; in comparison, Kimpton’s bars are more often cited than those of other brands. This data can be useful as the inspiration point for creative/campaign messaging – more deeply, these insights can be used to inform changes in messaging and even products.
  • Identify and use the brand’s differentiated advocacy drivers.  Brands have different strengths like product features, value, and customer service.
  • Enable advocacy everywhere. To drive amplification, make it easy for consumers to share at any brand touchpoint. To stoke consumer passion, reward consumers who share the most. To improve reach, use a variety of touchpoints such as influencer marketing, paid ads, and social content.
  • Move beyond sentiment analysis. Create and monitor advocacy-based metrics and tie them to marketing tactics.   

It would appear that there is a huge opportunity for brands to encourage consumer buzz. Considering advocacy levels as a metric could be another interesting measurement on your social media dashboard. What are your thoughts on this research?

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  • arlene newbigging

    Interesting study in terms of the low levels of formal positive gratification and emotional responses which resulted, with no specific product category standing out. Though difficult to measure the cultural differences that exist across the 4 countries studied and participant gender/age groups, is there a Generation Y effect of millenials simply reacting to a poor brand experience, as opposed to the overall +ve ‘human word of mouth’ advocacy effect that the earlier generations may have taken the time to communicate?

    This also raises significant questions for global brands,regarding the delivery and management of online customer service tactics long term, to improve the social advocacy gap & consumer loyalty behaviour?

    Does one to one human interaction still deliver a superior experience in the buying cycle – interest, trial and purchase as opposed to online experiences with no emotional or human interaction?

  • Excellent questions. Wish i had the answers! : ) I suspect there is a strong generational aspect to sharing and advocacy.

  • arlene newbigging

    Go on Mark, have a go…I have just taken the liberty of sending you a Linked in invite as you were so kind to respond – hope you receive it ok?

  • Oh absolutely. Thanks very much for connecting!

  • I agree with moving beyond sentiment analysis, but I say start with monitoring…then apply sentiment analysis…then have better targeting for identifying and engaging advocates. Might as well take care of those detractors (found via sentiment analysis) while you are there…

    Once engaged, then you can track those advocates…those social influencers…on their social profiles to even measure the number of positive mentions associated with your brand. And yes, it even makes sense to game it a bit.

    Kind of like that Pulse Analytics Flipboard I setup for Social Slam – at the top of the hour, you could provide swag based upon who was on the top of the Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Google+ leaderboards.

  • Martin Meyer-Gossner

    @arlene In my opinion, it is less a point of age, gender maybe. Still, a poor brand experience always drives more reviews than positive experiences. What is expected, and companies should think about the “unsaid unexpected” (!), is never been talked about (and if in negative words). If you meet it or not as a brand or company… Further read: http://www.thestrategyweb.com/5-of-negative-online-reviews-are-deceptive-finds-mit-study – Happy thinking!

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  • Robert Sheasby

    IMHO, to paraphrase an overused and tired quote from US political history, ‘it’s the product stupid.’ Brand advocacy, sentiment, imagery, emotion is again in my humble opinion all peripheral to the holy grain of how did the physical product, when a consumer actually uses it, in real life, perform. This is the real ZMOT, not ot the store shelf at yhe moment of actual purchase decision as Google has attempted to redefine vs. the traditional consumer buying path. It is no surprise that for most products, even those that the study and author remark surprisingly as generally ‘unremarkable,’ are not driven by ads. The iPhone did not succeed because of great ads; rather the ads succeeded because of great product, especially after early adopters had live hands on experience, and friends saw the product in use live by their friends. But who care if the ads won awards, it is the success of the iPhone physical product and its ‘features’ that is the only real meas

  • Robert Sheasby

    FYI, it’s the product stupid. Simply stated. For all marketing managers, your future lies in th success your derive from your collaborative partnership with your tech/R&D colleagues. Success there will make you very

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