You can't have a conversation about marketing these days without someone bringing up the need to create "Brand Advocates."
As the term suggests advocates are people who are not employed by your company yet talk positively about your brand in conversations with their friends either in person or online in fora like blogging, Facebook, Linked In and Twitter.
Advocates are a wonderful asset. The perceived third-party nature of their endorsements enhances the credibility of their reviews and recommendations, making them more effective than traditional marketing tactics. We all have friends who tell us how great their iPhones are, how much they love their Ford, how easy it is to use TurboTax, etc. As marketers we all know how valuable advocates can be.
The question is, "how do you create brand advocates?"
It's simple really: create a product, service or experience worth talking about. That's it.
Solve a problem in a remarkable way. Create a polarizing design. Offer service that goes above and beyond anyone's expectations. Those are a few of the paths to creating customers who not only use your products, but are happy tell the world about it.
You don't create brand advocates by offering rebates, sweepstakes, BOGOs or other marketing incentives.
If you have to pay people to say nice things about your product, they're not advocates, they're whores.