So, you’re building a brand with a substantial following. You want to take your operations to the next level. In fact, you’ve noticed there’s swathes of potential influencers already engaging with and buying from you… What you have here is an opportunity. All you need to do? Figure out a way to activate them, and get these passionate individuals involved with your brand.

In this bitesize episode of Building Brand Advocacy, regular host Paul Archer is offering up insights into unlocking the invaluable influencers already in your brand network. How do you find the right influencers? Why bother activating them? Is the search worth it? Paul knows. Here, he’s answering these questions and more on sourcing influencer-first Brand Advocates.

Building Brand Advocacy 039: Paul Archer, Founder & CEO at Duel

Paul: You have to spend a lot of time, a lot of money to build my trust to make a purchase. And so how do we go about doing that? How do we get people that are highly trusted to talk about our brand? Well, first of all, who is highly trusted? Who do I trust to talk about things? 

Have you ever wondered why some brands grow exponentially, building legions of passionate fans that live and die by their logos? And some, well, don't. I do, all the time, and that's probably because I'm a massive brand nerd. I believe that there's a secret source at the core of every remarkable brand, a formula that sparks the growth of passionate communities of fans. And in this podcast, we're on a mission to uncover the first principles that any brand can apply to unlock that potential. This includes principles of brand building in a hyper-connected world, maintaining authenticity, and coordinating communities of advocates and fans to drive passion, awareness, community, and commerce. My name is Paul Archer, and I'm a specialist in Brand Advocacy, having consulted for hundreds of brands on the topic. And in this podcast, I interview the greatest brand-building minds and share my own learnings along with those of the incredible team of experts that I work with. We'll be translating the tactics, strategies, and actionable insights for brand builders to exacerbate their brand success. It's time to build brand advocacy. Hello, welcome back to Building Brand Advocacy. It's just me, Paul, today, and I am responding to a request from someone who listens to this, and it's something which I've heard from a lot of the brand partners that I've been working with recently, which is actually how do we activate the influencers that are already in our customer base? Now, let's start on the why. Why should we bother doing this? Well, if you think about it, the whole point of trying to get someone to talk about you online as a brand is to drive social commerce, right? You just want to drive people to buy your product, whether that's in store or whether it's online, and we'll generally talk about it online because it's easier to track in this sense here. And so you want to effectively drive traffic, and that traffic, you want it to convert at the highest rate. This is middle, bottom of funnel activities here. You want someone who has a high intent to purchase when they land on that. Now, what does that mean? It generally means that they know what you do, but more importantly than that is that they trust that you're going to do it. If you think about that purchase cycle, when we look at, I want to buy a jacket, I'll often look at three or four different brands and I'll compare them and I'll compare features of them and look at it from that perspective. And then I might decide one later and I'll look at the prices and everything like that. And that's basically building up a decision-making process for me as to whether I want to buy one or the other one or which one I trust is going to do the job for me, which in case of a snowboarding jacket, it was going to keep me the warmest for the lowest price and look the coolest, whatever the different criteria I'm looking for. However, if someone just recommends something above all else, let's say it is going to keep you the warmest, it is going to be the best at looking the best and maybe it is the most expensive and I'm happy to make that sacrifice, I'm skipping out all of that decision-making process. I'm skipping out all the trust-building elements that I'm doing of looking at reviews and comparing them against different products to understand which one's going to do the job the best for me. I'm going straight to purchase. And even if it costs me more than I would have intended to, I'm doing that because if the person who told me this, I trust them, then they act as a proxy for trust for the brand and the product. And this is really important when you think about this principle of building trust and finding trusted nodes in the network who can drive traffic towards you is actually one of the most effective ways of driving growth at a cost, which is a fraction of that, which you'd be doing through an ad where I may just see an ad for a product that I've never seen before. You have to spend a lot of time, a lot of money to build my trust to make a purchase. And so how do we go about doing that? How do we get people that are highly trusted to talk about our brand? Well, first of all, who is highly trusted? Who do I trust to talk about things? Someone who I know is being paid to like a brand and I don't really believe that they actually use it or support it or anything that they say, means I don't trust them. And although I might be interested in it and I might inquire and land on your site to kind of check it out, if I don't really trust that they are an authentic advocate for what you do and they're just being paid to pretend to like it, then there's no better than an ad. Now there's nothing wrong with this. This is an amazing way to hack your way to awareness and the old adage that you need to have seven touch points before a person makes a purchase. This is one of those and it's really important. It's like seeing an out of home ad or it's seeing a meta ad or whatever it is. It's great and it's a part of the mix. There's nothing wrong with this. However, what it's not is high quality, authentic advocacy about driving traffic, which is going to convert. Now that comes from a different place. To do that, you need to find people who are actual fans of what you do, who actually have experience of your brand, of your product or whatever it is that you sell. And they only live in one place and they live in your customer base. So if you want to start finding authentic people to talk about you, a lot of the time, people are really obsessed about how much reach someone's got and how much bang for their buck they're going to get. But I believe that they are looking at the completely wrong criteria here. What they should be looking above all else is do they truly love and believe what I have? And if they have that, then every single person they tell, whether that is two people or 200 people, they are going to convert a higher level. And that's actually where the fun begins. So how do we go about to find these people? Well, they're in your customer base. They're probably following you on social media. Most of the time, they don't even know that you would engage with them and incentivize them to talk about what you do. So that's where you do various different nets to catch these people. You've got things like a post purchase call to action. You're featuring a program, your ambassador program or your affiliate program in your newsletter and say, affiliate of the month, this is Joe Bloggs, who's created this amazing content and we've jetted them off to our HQ store for a money can't buy experience. Whatever it is that I could read that and think, hey, I could be that person. I quite like the idea of doing that. 
Hey, it's me again. This podcast is sponsored by Duel, which is my company actually. Duel is the leading brand advocacy platform used by the top retail consumer brands, including Unilever, Charlotte Tilbury, Elimus, Loop and about 50 more, to manage, measure and scale their advocacy, member, affiliate, creator and brand ambassador operations. The platform offers unparalleled scale for complex brands by automating nine out of ten of the standard advocacy management activities and allowing them to focus on arming their advocates with the right tools to tell the brand story and drive social commerce. They can grow faster for less. We only work with 15% or so of the brands we speak to, but we try and add value in many other ways, this podcast being one of them. So if you are a brand that's interested in this, maybe a large consumer retail brand, ideally you're doing 20, $30 million as a minimum and you're pretty advanced on social and you need to know what the next stage is, then please get in touch. Email me That is P -A -U -L@D -U -E -L .T -E -C -H or Google

So wherever it is, any way you're communicating with your existing customers is a great opportunity to recruit potential advocates who can drive social commerce. So thinking about that, the post purchase bit is always a bit tricky because a lot of people do it immediately after I've bought a product. You know, I've just bought a product, delivery notice pops up, it's going to be five days and instantly someone says, Oh, leave a review. So, well, I'm not going to leave a review, refer a friend. Well, I haven't even got the product. Like everyone is smart enough to know when their delivery is happening. Least use that to trigger the point when you actually ask for someone to become an advocate, to start engaging with you in that sense. But once you've recruited that person to be an advocate for you, they often think of it as a pyramid in terms of the different levels of engagement they can have. Now we did some research recently and it's very hard to pull out, but some people are saying as much as 28% of people on Instagram have more than 2000 followers. Now, if you've got 2000 followers, this means that you are probably a creator or you're an incredibly popular person at a very large school. So like if you're a creator, you're putting yourself out there in the world and there is a good chance that they may be happy to put you out there in the world to an audience, which is sizable 2000 people. You're not going to sniff at 2000 new fans, are you? So that means that just under one in three people who are your customers, who are on Instagram as a tiny cross-section of that are creators that are potential advocates for you. Now, is this foundational level? Now, are they a brand ambassador? No, they had not been anointed by you as a representative of the brand. Just like I cannot self-select myself to be an ambassador of a country. Even if I do recommend it to people, it is the same for that. These guys sit in the same bracket as your affiliates. So just in the same way that an affiliate network like Awin or Rakuten, you cannot curate who is in that and who is sending traffic your way, but you still take that traffic because it is driving revenue to you. This is the same. An individual who will self-select to be a creator affiliate, to create content online, to drive traffic to you. You don't know and you cannot hope to control how they position your brand, but neither do you with all those other channels. That's not a problem. And actually there will always be a battle internally to make sure that the Chief Brand Officer can approve some of these people talking about you online. It's probably irrelevant because people are talking about you online anyway, and you can't control it. You may as well actually make sure when they do, they drive traffic your way. So think of this as your affiliate pool. This is your foundation of that pyramid. It's the core bit at the bottom there. Of this selection, they're all customers. They're all fans. They've all got the products and they're all getting out there and they're driving really great, high intent, high caliber traffic that will convert highly because they've come from an authentic source. Now, when you start looking at this pool, what you will find is that a number of them, generally we find it's five, maybe 10 % of them will be actually really good creators. Now, some of those will have a very modest audience, but most of them will have a bit more of an audience because generally if you're a good creator, you tend to have a larger audience and they will be on brand for you and your brand and what you want. And that again is an entirely subjective piece that is entirely dependent on the brand. But what you'll find is about that sort of 5, 10% group can be influences for you. They can join a brand ambassador program and these are true representatives of your brand. You do curate who they are, how they carry your brand message, how they talk about it. But on the flip side, what they will create is incredible content, which is on-brand because they themselves are on-brand and you can use that across all your different marketing activities, post it to social, you can use it within your CRM, you can use it on your product display pages everywhere from that perspective. And think of this sort of middle tier as the content generation machine at Scale. If you think about maybe the numbers that you would have in this, you'll probably have thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of individuals who could be affiliates depending on the size of your brand. But then you'll have maybe hundreds of people who could be the brand ambassadors. And then what you'll find is that there's a small number of that small number who are genuine influencers who have amazing reach and are bang on brand. And amazingly, they have actually put their hand up and said, I would like to work with you. I love your brand and I would like to be a part of this story. And those are the people who you hand select and you start those kind of one to one partnerships that the influencer team are so familiar with. And so you're kind of covering off all the bases here. You've got this grassroots group of customer level creator affiliates who are driving traffic. Then you've got this middle layer of these customer influencers who are creating amazing content and driving traffic, probably better quality traffic as well. And then you've got these influencers who are the true brand representatives that you have partnerships with on top of it. And it's not really a decision over do I do one or the other? The answer is it's actually part of the same strategy and it starts from the foundation. It starts from the customers and it moves up this pyramid right the way to the top. And you can't have one without the other because they flow from one into each of the other groups. So what do you get here is you get amazing traffic, which then converts. You have a channel of traffic, which generates revenue as well as a content generation machine. What makes this particularly special is if you engage with fans and customers, not only are they more authentic, which means they convert higher, but they're cheaper. They will not send you their standard rate card for a brand that they love because they want to work with brands that they love, particularly if they're in that smaller nano micro-influencer space. They don't have a record. This they are amateurs. They're not professionals. This is not how they put food on their table. They will do it for free product. And we've seen this tens of thousands of times. People who love brands will do a lot for some free product to spend it. And to you, the cost of goods of your free product should be the way that you measure the ROI on that spend or the return on ad spend, the ROAS that you'll have. So if you've given someone a hundred bucks worth of gift vouchers and you've got 75% margins, that should only appear as 25 bucks. And that I guarantee you will give you a better ROAS than probably any other channel that you're going to look at. And then understanding how do you scale that and how do you make this part of your crucial. So that was a mini masterclass on how you can turn your customers into a revenue channel through social commerce. Now, I obviously nerd on this quite a lot. If you have any other questions about any particular area there, please reach out to me directly on I will delve deep into anything you have to say. That was a response to someone who came back to me. And if you've got anything else, please do drop it over in an email. I love doing this and I hope it was helpful.

That was another episode of Building Brand Advocacy, the world's top brand building podcast. To find out more about building brand advocacy and how this podcast is part of a bigger plan for our brand building cookbook, then make sure to search for Building Brand Advocacy in Apple podcasts, Spotify and Google podcasts, or anywhere else that podcasts are fine, and make sure that you click subscribe so you don't miss any future episodes. Thanks to Duel for sponsoring. To find out more, go to And on behalf of the team here at Building Brand Advocacy, thanks for listening.

We can't wait to meet you.