The Content Imperative
The latest on content marketing strategy, insights and trends

Laura Jennings
Head of Strategy & Client Service

Laura has 10+ years experience working in social and content marketing. Fascinated with tackling business challenges through smart, effective marketing, Laura ensures all our clients are receiving superb quality work that makes a commercial difference and brings a smile to the client’s face.

Working with start-ups and FTSE100 companies and everything in between, Laura has enjoyed defining influential strategies, delivering creative work and bringing customers and brands closer together.

Other posts by Laura

Image source: Iain Farrell

Customer confessions:
the rise and rise of
advocacy marketing

| 27 March 2015

How I love the chewy, dense deliciousness of spaghetti. You can imagine then my disappointment, as I plunged my fork into its health food freak alternative: Courgetti. Ribbons of courgette pretending to be their Italian counterpart.

Two weeks on from that stomach-dropping moment and I’m twizzling courgettes through my 4.5-Star Amazon Spiralizer. I’ve taken to the waist-friendly pasta imposter so much, that I’ve inspired my friends to buy the latest device, and my sister has even bought me a trendy health-food book.

Unwittingly I’ve become a fantastic ambassador, or brand advocate, for the sturdy Spiralizer. How did this happen?

The Customer Journey

Somewhere between my taste buds being tickled with Courgetti and my purchase of the new “it” gadget, I was sold a vision of glowing peachy skin, silky shiny hair, long lithe limbs, a fabulously trim waist and boundless energy. The unexpected tastiness of the vegetable pasta, coupled with its health profile, was enough to get me onto Google the next day. That led to my discovery of some beautifully radiant health-food bloggers, whose Facebook photos of sweet potato brownies were so tantalising that I promptly ordered my Spiralizer, and paid a trip to Holland & Barrett for some Chia Seeds.

I’m now not only a brand advocate for the Spiralizer, but for Holland & Barrett, and all those health-food bloggers I stumbled across on my healthy eating journey. Of course, photographic evidence of my first attempt at Courgetti was splattered all over Facebook. Advocacy marketing at its very best.

Some Stats and Facts

Harnessing sentiments from people like me – your customers and advocates – generates three valuable outputs. Firstly, if lots of people are saying the same thing, you can leverage that for product development. Secondly, you can share good reviews and testimonials to attract even more customers. Thirdly, you can engage directly with your buyers, sparking discussions and becoming an industry “go-to”. Here are some stats to back this up:

  • Customer generated content is 50% more trusted than any other form of media.

  • A study found that over three-quarters (77%) of consumers are persuaded more by   recommendations from friends and family than any other advertising.

  • Nearly half (43%) of all social media users have bought a product after sharing or favoriting it on Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.

  • 87% of consumers say that good reviews confirm their decision to buy.

Great, so where do I start?

Social media should be a first port of call, as it enables you to engage directly with existing and potential customers. Ask questions and use the feedback to lay the foundations of your strategy. Question posts on Facebook get 100% more comments, and posts with photos get 39% more interaction.

There are a few companies that can help you in your quest to gather data from social media: StoryStream and Crowdtap are two examples.

Shining Stars

Once you’re ready to woo, here are five examples of brands that have used content from their fans to undertake utterly brilliant Facebook campaigns.


In 2004 Dove, a multinational maker of beauty products, cleverly cottoned-on to a typically female woe – why did every magazine and beauty advert display images of women with unattainable, air-brushed physiques? This simple question led to a cascade of marketing campaigns showcasing “real” women and their relationships with their bodies.

One such campaign, “Real Beauty Should be Shared”, asked fans to share photos of themselves with a friend, on Facebook. They had to include a snippet on why their friend showcased “real beauty”, and the winners became the next faces of Dove.

National Geographic

National Geographic fans and photography lovers can upload their photos, along with a caption, onto Facebook. If the magazine loves them, they publish them.

The U.K. furniture retailer setup “Unboxed”, allowing users to see purchased items in the homes of other buyers. It shares these photos on Facebook and runs giveaways for people that participate.


This coffee giant ran a “White Cup Contest” inviting customers to design their own cups. Photos were displayed on Facebook and the winning design was transformed into a re-usable cup. It also ran a “Meet Me At Starbucks” campaign, that compiled a series of mini videos into a documentary on a day in the life of Starbucks. The mini videos were showcased on Facebook.


The maker of those crisps you always pick-up on European holidays, asked customers to invent a new flavour. The final top three were available to buy in stores and fans were then able to vote for their favourite on Facebook. The winner scooped a whopping $1 million prize.

Beware: Don’t Get Fined

Avoid a hefty lawsuit and ensure you publish Terms & Conditions alongside any online marketing campaign. No-one wants to stumble across an unexpected photo of themselves that they’re not happy with. If you want to use content from your customers outside of a specific campaign, then just make sure you ask nicely before you go ahead!