As I contemplate today’s results, one number stood out to me during the UK election campaign : voter registrations spiked by 236 percent on the final day, and a huge number were aged under 34. Grime artist Stormzy’s final-day tweets probably helped and this got me thinking about the power of endorsement, its strengths and weaknesses.
Stormzy – a known supporter but apparently acting unprompted – tweeted strong endorsement for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn on the final day for registrations and reminded people to register, including a tweet ten minutes before the deadline: 366,000 people registered to vote on that day compared to 109,000 the day before. The registration process could be done online fairly quickly but it still took a few minutes, so this was more work for the respondents than simply adding to a social media chorus. Of those last minute registrations, 150,000 were under the age of 25 and another 114,000 were aged 25 to 34.
So how is this relevant to our businesses? Beyond formal endorsement, sponsorship, planned social media and influencer strategies – which can work very well – it’s really worth looking at your informal networks. I doubt you have an asset like Stormzy on your books, but it’s probably worth mapping your advocates: who do we know that endorses our work, and who do THEY know? Do we make it easy for people to recommend us, and pass on a link or a way to find out more? Who do we know that has real profile in areas we need, and can we do more with that connection? What innovative partnerships – one-off or ongoing – could we bring together for mutual benefit?
Ideally you have a perfect storm: a highly visible, perfectly timed independent endorsement. But I think most of us will be waiting a long time for something like that!
But while you’re waiting, some of your own staff can be a massive asset, both internally and externally. We’ve recently been working with a large and diverse multinational to bring together an internal team of brand ambassadors. A common issue in Cambridge is recruiting and retaining talent, and this is a great space to consciously build and manage a group of advocates and focus your internal brand story. This often generates extra social media and PR content too.
One thing to note though – all activity like this needs ‘the extra 10%’. If you go down this path you’re asking clients or staff to do something for you, for little direct reward, that they don’t have to do….and if they actually hold negative views of your brand they could be irritated at being asked, or even use their visibility to speak negatively about you. Starting the internal dialogue can surface this early – which is useful in itself. If your company is formally reaching out to a group of people to ask for their more active support you need a clear strategy and resources: keep the group small, have clear goals, confirm their initial support and commit to things like regular two-way communication with them.
In today’s turbulent times the loss of key staff or customers can really hit hard. Along with talking politics over coffee we all tell our networks about companies we like and don’t like anyway, so it makes sense to invest a bit in propagating the positive.