Brand advocates are key to driving value for brands: Sudarsan Rao, SOCXO

Sudarsan Rao, Co-Founder & CEO, SOCXO, talks about how brand advocacy can help brands promote their products in an efficient way

e4m by Dolly Mahayan
Published: Sep 6, 2019 8:43 AM  | 5 min read

Sudarsan Rao, Co-Founder & CEO, SOCXO believes that brands have understood the potential of brand advocacy to promote the products or services to customers organically, without spending too much on advertising or other traditional marketing initiatives. The brand was launched two years ago and offers a ‘SaaS & Mobile’ platform for brands to drive brand advocacy programs. It has acquired over 40+ leading brands from India, Europe & US, with plans to scale its business and marketing in key markets like the US, India & SE Asia in the years ahead.

Sudarsan Rao tells us how the concept was initialized, how the brand advocacy market is doing in India compared to other international markets, about their future plans and more.

What is brand advocacy? How was this concept initialised by Socxo?

Firstly, brand advocates or brand ambassadors are key to driving the value of brands and their associated business results. But, in business, we often overlook the obvious and focus on processes and systems instead of people. 

Brand advocacy is the system of encouraging employees to get visible on social media, provide them curated brand and business-related content, empower them to connect, learn, and talk about their brand.

Socxo started off as a brand advocacy solution to help companies achieve greater content reach, enable trusted voices and word of mouth through employees with simple content curation and sharing. Once we saw results of it, we iterated the solution to cater to other segments of brand ambassadors - partners, channels, fans and also customers. We call them micro-influencers who are more trusted than celebrity influencers since employees of a brand are more authentic and real-world relatable voices. What we do is harness the power of every employee’s collaborative social network reach and drive content marketing results. When 100 trusted voices talk favourably and authentically about a brand within their own networks, the brand’s attribution gets a fillip!

In a scenario where Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning is at a nascent stage, brand advocacy is very new in the market, how do you see the brand advocacy market in India compared to other international markets?  

While brand advocacy is a relatively new niche in India, it has been around in the US & northern European markets for a while now. They are using brand advocacy as the technique for generating employee engagement, employer branding, social selling, personal branding, etc. In fact, there are cases of campaigning specifically developed with advocacy in mind, which comes under the ambit ofEmployer Brand Marketing.

The essence of advocacy marketing is in discovering and providing access to recent and relevant brand/industry content. Once this is covered you get to building specific content campaigns designed towards advocacy which then powers up the brand. Use of AI/ML is completely at a nascent stage and in this context, it will be used in future updates of the solutions towards content discovery, content recommendation, user behaviour segmentation, brand attribution patterns, etc so that objectives and outcomes are better traceable and performance measurement becomes more transparent.

 What made you enter this market?

Brand advocacy has been wrapped as a new concept for content marketing. It inherits the essence of brand building, for companies and individuals. Tech or otherwise ‘word of mouth' aka brand advocacy has always been around. Some of the biggest brands in the world are champions in using this and they have been using this before the phrase “digital marketing” was coined. Marketing is about psychology and not technology. The availability of the tech to curate, organise and attribute people and media on the other made us think about the gap in social media marketing, which was not addressed, at least in India to start with. We decided to do something about it, took a few pages from our competitors in the US & Europe, and developed our solution to deliver a "power-up" as we call it.  

Clearly, we found the need to provide an authentic, continuous and repetitive channel of content marketing with clear measurement in perspective, and brand advocacy was the way to do it.

Do you think brand advocacy will be a game-changer and how?  

This is a disruption in digital marketing, specifically social media marketing. However, it requires effort by the brands to reach out and build their community of advocates. It has the power to shift content marketing from the traditional push-based, brand page, paid social marketing to a more organic, creative and content-driven pull-based marketing. It’s still evolving; hence a strong advocacy program to drive platform adoption will determine its course.  As the best path for any solution is always carved out by the adopters of the solution and how they ideate to use the solution to their unique business, personal and brand needs. 

What are Socxo's growth strategy and plans for the coming years?

 Social Media is still evolving rapidly in many directions. Our growth strategy is to stay niche and nimble to find ways to leverage techniques and tools in the space to complement the core idea. We are pushing our growth engines towards the US and Europe markets, which are more ready for the adoption of this concept.

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