Loyal Brand Advocates: It Takes Capital

Social Capital plus Emotional Capital builds Advocacy

In a earlier post I touched on what factors may help build Social and Emotional Capital, today in this post we will look at various scenarios and combinations and examples of such.

For a quick recap:

  • Social Capital:  built within communities through conversations, engagement & relationships
  • Emotional Capital: built on feelings and emotions such as how others connect with your values & beliefs. Trust is a great Emotional Capital measurement

Combining Social & Emotional Capital builds advocates


Loyal brand advocates come when both social and emotional capital are high. If the feelings about your brand are positive and the community spirit around you is positive then people can’t help being loyal.

A great example of a company that has a loyal advocacy base is Apple, the media and millions of people hang on the edge of their seats to hear the news of new products such as the newly announced iPad.  Even though Apple was recently embroiled in a controversy about labor practices their Emotional & Social Capital was high enough that when a withdrawal (controversy) was made Capital was still left and Apple is still moving forward. Today alone thousands of people are either eagerly checking UPS tracking or standing in line to get their new iPads.





If your Emotional Capital is high with no social Capital then the status quo abounds and no one hears about you.


If your emotional capital is high and the social capital not so much then nobody is going to learn about your products and things will remain stagnant even though consumers are emotionally connected to your brand.

An example of Stagnation that hits close to home is Farmers, we a have shared values and the trust of the public, however we Farmers until recently were not working on building Social Capital too. Farmers share the same values as the public and trust in farmers is also high however when you move to words like Farms and Farming the trust erodes. This is where we as farmers need to build our Social Capital to complement the Emotional Capital we have. As we work to build our Social Capital others are trying to withdraw our Emotional Capital by highlighting the few bad apples in the bunch.





Social Capital and Emotional Liability also creates a state of Tolerance


If you have  high Social Capital and no Emotional Capital then tolerance is in the air. With high Social Capital you can leverage your networks to get a statement or retraction spread through the community you have built, however there is no emotional connection to your brand.

A great example of a Tolerance is the recent NBA Lockout that threatened the 2011-12 season. Professional Sports have lot’s of Social Capital built through a large amount of Television programming combined with the spirit of the local communities they’re based in. There are many sports fans born with loyalty to a certain team however through the lockouts and strikes professional sports risks eroding their Emotional Capital because the fans do no share values or trust in the dispute because most owners and players are fairly wealthy already. The recent NBA lockout nearly eroded all Emotional Capital and some fans were reaching the point of tolerating the lockout with no emotional connection to the lockout itself.




The lack of Social and Emotional Capital results in high Social and Emotional Liability.


If you have both negative Social and Emotional Capital in other words high Emotional and Social Liability you are at risk of protest or disagreement. The high  Social and Emotional Capital built against your brand is effectively used to build support for other brands or causes.

A perfect example of Protest is the current movement to change the way food is produced, as mentioned earlier Farmers have a good amount of Emotional Capital built and are working on the Social Capital. Food Processors on the other hand are working with very limited if any Emotional Capital and for the majority of processors   no social Capital. The result is Protest and a current example is “Pink Slime”  a product that was developed over the years to meet consumer demand yet nothing was done by the processors to explain the process, then when a story broke calling the Lean Beef product “Pink Slime”  by someone with Social & Emotional Capital Protest ensued. In the end the trust in food processors by the customer is diminished because the public thinks they are hiding something.





Today’s customers are looking for more than just a quality product to support, they are looking to support the quality company behind those products. If we are giving our employees, customers  and stakeholders reasons to share their enthusiasm of being connected to our company the result is Social Capital grows. If we hold shared values, beliefs and work to gain societies trust we will be gaining Emotional Capital. The product of Social and Emotional Capital together is loyal advocacy that keeps our customers connected, however we can’t rest on our laurels because it’s easier to go downhill than uphill. Once we have gained advocates we need to nurture our culture and the community built around us through continual engagement and relationship building.


Social Capital plus Emotional Capital builds Advocacy




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