Just listening to a session on Advocate Engagement:  Turning fans into advocates at CRM Evolution 2012 in NYC.  The speaker, Christopher Carfi, VP, Social Business Strategy, Ant’s Eye View (which was  just acquired by PriceWaterhouseCoopers yesterday) is very engaging.  He says that “Social business” requires fundamental change and discipline to transform from a traditional enterprise to one that is fully engaged with its customers, partners and employees.  And that requires advocates.  Advocates are different than influencers.  Influencers have significant networks, personal or professional, and use it to get opinions and recommendations but they don’t indicate their views.  They are amplifiers, but neutral.  Advocates are  defenders of the brand, on behalf of the brand by pleading, recommending, etc.  What drives advocacy: involvement, trust, belonging, identity, knowledge.  Advocates can be really useful in online communities: less in 911 groups where people have something broken and want a fix, but more in 411 communities where people learn & improve and in 511 communities where people explore & discover, for example, here advocates who are on the bleeding edge come up with a cool tool/hack.  Think about verbs when you think of advocates and their behaviours — explore, like, praise, show off, comment, challenge, share, teach, interact, taunt (an interesting behaviour but it’s use depends on community).  Christopher had lots more, so check out his slides.  If you want more on customer relationship management and customer experience, check out the twitter feeds from the conference #CRMe12 and #custse.

Here’s another take on Carfi’s talk.