How Can Brands Transform Liking-Lurkers Into Brand-Loving Advocates?

June 25th, 2015



Brands often boast about the number of “likes”, followers and tweets they garner, but are these measures of brand advocacy too crude? Are people that “like” and follow everything true brand promoters?

As companies grapple with the meaning and impact of social media on brands, Social@Ogilvy and SurveyMonkey join forces for a second year to study how to transform supporters into real, long-lasting advocates, who carry on the brand voice and promote it to others.

Just as last year’s study showed us that brands producing high quality content is critical to engage with social media users, this year’s global, 11-country online survey of more than 5,000 social media users shows that just because people are saying positive things about your brand, it doesn’t mean they are real brand advocates. But, if you use the right approach and techniques, they can be, and this global research sheds light on how.

“Sharers”, “followers” and retweets are crude measures of true brand advocacy.

The majority of users are actively noticing and engaging with brands via social media, with the research showing that 84% of respondents across the 11 markets say they had “liked” or followed a brand, product or service. Of those that have “liked” or followed a brand, more than half (58%) have interacted directly with a brand and 79% received a response back (shout out to social media managers everywhere!).

We saw no shortage of “social sharers” who not only follow a brand, but who proactively share their experiences: 58% of respondents have communicated either positive or negative opinions about a brand with others.

These social addicts, who typically stay glued to the likes of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter on a daily basis, exhibit similar behaviors but there are still key differences and steps to transforming “sharers” into brand promoters – those respondents who self-identified as being extremely likely to recommend brands and products to friends.

While six in ten (58%) respondents are “sharers”, only two in ten (19%) are true brand promoters.

Authentic brand promoters are far more rare and influential than sharers, with the global research revealing notable differences to watch out for between them when looking to identify the profile of a promoter.

How do promoters interact via social media?
• They are intrinsically more active followers: two-thirds (66%) follow brands on a regular basis, compared to only half of sharers (52%)
• Promoters follow brands in order to interact directly with them. 42% of sharers do this compared to half (52%) of promoters

Why do promoters interact with brands?
• A prime reason they follow brands is to be associated with them which 39% do, versus only 28% of sharers
• Almost half (46%) also believe a brand’s reputation is important, compared to only 36% of sharers
• They prefer to link a brand to their own personal identify, with 45% saying they feel better about themselves after using a brand; only 35% of sharers say the same

What action do they evoke?
• The friends of promoters talk about brands much more: 59% of promoters see their networks regularly mention brands and products, while only 47% of sharers do the same
• They are much more likely to respond to their friends’ interaction with brands; 35% would purchase a product if it was mentioned by a friend, compared to just 24% of sharers

Globally, these promoters share broadly similar characteristics.

True promoters have similar reasons for liking or following a brand, for example: 77% want to hear about products, offers, or news, followed closely by 53% who want to give direct feedback and 52% who want to interact directly with an organization. Promoters tend to surround themselves by like minds when it comes to their attitude towards brand interaction on social media: 91% say their friends’ mentions of brands are largely positive.

Quality is paramount with virtually everyone (91%) saying this is why they would be extremely likely to recommend a particular brand or product to friends or colleagues. And, it’s the main reason why 61% promoters would not recommend a brand or product.

But brands beware: While both sharers and promoters have posted about a great brand experience on social media, 71% of sharers and 60% of promoters have also discussed terrible brand experiences online.

Emerging economies breed a higher percentage of promoters.

Countries with the highest percentage of promoters live in emerging economies, like Brazil and India, where 42% and 33% respectively, fall into this category. Japan revealed the smallest percentage by far with just 1% of promoters, followed by Germany and France (14% respectively), and UK, Indonesia and Australia (15% respectively).

However, important cultural nuances are likely to be at play. For instance, Indonesia has a low number of promoters despite 70% of respondents saying they’ve shared great brand experiences on social media. This could suggest that the more passive approach of advocacy via social sharing may be more popular in Asian countries. Equally, a low number of Japanese promoters could be attributed to the formal, more private culture – making them less willing to make personal recommendations online. To that effect, the majority of Japanese respondents (43%) report in-person brand or product recommendations are most trustworthy.

What does this mean for brands?

Powerful conversations may fill the streets for revolution, but people are now moving towards more private and closed places of individual relevance.

While it is clear people are more connected than ever – demonstrated by the sheer breadth of networks available to us – the research from SurveyMonkey and Ogilvy shows that it is the depth of connections that change our lives and the world around us.

Ultimately, brands need to build relevance and trust through content and connections if they wish use social media to transform their brand, business and reputation.

5 ways to build a brand’s relevance and trust in social media

1. Moments of truth: Connect naturally with the right audience, in the right place at the right time
2. Inspire: Use culturally relevant storytelling that flows across platforms and markets, in real-time
3. Measure: Focus on harder business metrics, such as leads, sales, performance, loyalty
4. Precision: Move from broad demographics to using behavior, interests and friendships.
5. Bond: Move from community management to customer engagement

“Companies need to move beyond collecting likes and retweets with meaningless content,” said Thomas Crampton, Global Managing Director, Social@Ogilvy. “Through genuine interaction and content designed to connect with true advocates, companies can drive forward their brand, business and reputation in ways not possible before this era of social media.”

“Social media addicts may look like your most engaged consumers, but marketers need to stop looking at their data in silos to find their true advocates,” said Bennett Porter, SurveyMonkey’s Vice President of Marketing Communications. “By applying the Net Promoter Score® methodology to social media users across the globe, we better understand the profile of a brand promoters: those who are extremely likely to recommend brands to friends and colleagues. To appeal to promoters, brands need to not only focus on quality but also reputation among friends or colleagues and that sense of worth that comes from being associated with a brand.”


For press enquiries contact:
Sarah Edwards
Corporate Communications Director | +86 135 8589 3647

Survey Methodology
The following report examines the behaviors of social media users through the analysis of data collected in an 11-country survey of social media users. Results were gathered online from 5,639 self-reported social media users aged 18+ in 11 countries using SurveyMonkey Audience. Surveys were conducted in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, the UK, and US in May 2015.For open-ended responses, only phrases with 2 or more mentions are shown in the word clouds.

About Social@Ogilvy
Social@Ogilvy is the world’s largest network of social media strategists. Named 2013 Global Digital/Social Consultancy of the Year by The Holmes Report, the practice leverages social media expertise across all Ogilvy & Mather disciplines, offering an extensive list of services within the foundational business solutions — Listening and Analytics; Social Business Solutions; Social Media Marketing and Communications; Social Shopping; Social CRM; Social Care; and Conversation Impact™.

About SurveyMonkey
SurveyMonkey is the world’s leading online survey platform, with more than 3 million survey responses every day. SurveyMonkey has revolutionized the way people give and take feedback, making it accessible, simple and affordable for everyone. The company was founded in 1999 with a focus on helping people make better decisions, and has built technology based on over 15 years of experience in survey methodology and web development. Customers include 99% of the Fortune 500, academic institutions, organizations and neighborhood soccer leagues everywhere.

The company has more than 500 employees worldwide with headquarters in Palo Alto, CA. For more information, visit

Share this: