The Rule Of Thirds: Why Advocates Need Asks, Education And Fun To Stay Engaged

Your colleagues on your marketing team may love it when your advocate marketing program floods the web with product reviews and social media mentions, but every meal needs the right mix of ingredients to be pleasing to the palate.

If you want to keep your advocates coming back for more, you need to include a little fun and learning in addition to those hard-hitting asks.

Getting the right mix can be a bit tricky, but it’s also incredibly important. You don’t want to burn out eager advocates by asking for too many referrals or case studies. On the other hand, if your hub is just one big party, you may soon find your sales team knocking at your cubicle door.

We have a simple rule we use to try to make everybody happy: The Rule of Thirds. Following this rule ensures you always have an equal number of the three types of challenges: Asks, Education and Fun.

What exactly do these challenge types mean?


As the name suggests, this type of challenge asks advocates to do stuff for you. Good asks can include reference call requests or detailed product reviews on a third-party website. Your sales team will love you for them, but after a while, they’ll wear your advocates down. What’s an advocate marketer to do?

Get sneaky – in the nicest kids-eat-your-vegetables kind of way, of course. Or, the B2B equivalent: Turn an ask into an educational challenge. If you don’t want to just ask your advocates to share some content, ask them to read the post and answer questions about it instead. This way they’re getting something out of it too.


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Educational challenges teach your advocates about your product and make them more knowledgeable customers. Educated customers are more engaged customers who require less hand-holding to get the results they’re looking for.

They’re also happier ones – as advocates gather all kinds of knowledge through educational challenges, they can use those skills to impress their boss or colleagues with their amazing results later on. And the more praise they get, the more likely they are to praise you!


Everyone loves to have fun, and I think by now we’ve established that these types of challenges are the ones that will keep your advocates coming back.

Let’s say you ask your advocates to take a picture wearing company swag while on vacation and post it on Twitter, or you ask them what book is on their wishlist to perk them on their birthday.

Sure, they’ll be thrilled. But as they click through challenges they enjoy, they’ll eventually find their way to the challenges you REALLY want them to do.

Before you know it, you’ll get increased participation in the education and ask type of challenges from people who just came in to have a little bit of fun.

That’s what happened when Quorum’s online marketing manager asked his advocates if they prefer Star Trek or Star Wars. Read Kevin’s story.

How to make challenges fun

When brainstorming fun challenge ideas, it’s often helpful to look to current events for inspiration. Holidays and sporting events are some of the most successful fun challenge topics.

One of our customers, Bomgar, decided to launch a fun football challenge ahead of the “big game” in February. It not only drove 60 challenge completions in just over 24 hours, but also led to advocates completing, on average, at least two additional challenges. The Bomgar Insider’s fun challenge got them off the bench, so to speak.

Final quick tips

Keeping these three different challenge types in mind will help create balance, but it’s not enough. You also need to keep an eye on how many challenges you have in your hub at any given time.

We’ve found that having more than 20 challenges available at once overwhelms advocates. If they’re logging in during a brief coffee break, they shouldn’t be bombarded by a million asks and requests. Too many choices will make them pull away.

But, at the same time, you also want to make sure they have enough challenges so they don’t get bored. Fewer than 10 challenges also tends to be a bad move, because you need enough challenges to keep them interested and give them a number of options to choose from.

If you need some fresh ideas, you can pop by AdvocateHub’s Challenge Template Library and the recently-added “New this Month” section. Your Advocacy Coach will also visit your hub regularly to make sure you have the right challenge mix and suggest changes, if necessary.

It may take a bit of experimenting, but you’ll get a feel for which types of challenges work best for your particular advocate mix and create the right balance.

So, what does your challenge mix look like these days?

17 Responses to The Rule Of Thirds: Why Advocates Need Asks, Education And Fun To Stay Engaged

  1. […] Your AdvocateHub should be a “marketing fluff-free zone”. Ditch the sales speak and use a conversational tone. It’s okay to address your advocates by their first names. You can even tell jokes—as long as these jokes align with their sense of humor. The more you speak your advocates’ language, the more they will listen. Advocates also appreciate challenges that are purely just for fun. […]

  2. […] best way to do this is to build an advocate marketing program that engages your best customers with fun and educational resources, and then asks them to publicly advocate for your brand. Once they take action, you reward them for […]

  3. […] the process. In the program, the brand’s most enthusiastic customers were invited to take part in fun and educational challenges for rewards and recognition. They could also advocate for Brightpearl in many ways, like sharing […]

  4. […] for everything from fun activities, to interesting reads, and professional advice so there’s more than one reason to keep coming […]

  5. […] openly and candidly, be factual, and to the point. This will help develop trust. As soon as you can be relatable on some level, it will help break down their guard and build a strong […]

  6. […] active. Katie not only learned that the Ohana hub didn’t have enough challenges, but that the mix of challenges also wasn’t […]

  7. […] using fun themes during break times that will keep them engaged. For instance, you can ask them to share vacation […]

  8. […] It’s entertaining. “The program is fun,” says Sarah. KACE Konnect offers its users enjoyable and educational challenges to advocates in exchange for points. There’s also a leaderboard and rewards for […]

  9. […] It was Warren Beatty who said you’ve achieved success in your field when you can’t tell if what you’re doing is work or play. All I can say is when you dive into an advocate marketing program, coming to work is a lot of fun. […]

  10. […] also less focused on asking for big things (like referrals and references) and more interested in getting to know our customers and offering them the educational resources they really want. I’ve learned which customers are history buffs, which are avid travelers, and […]

  11. […] We created two types of advocacy challenges for March Madness: Fun and asks. […]

  12. […] It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of constantly asking your advocates for favors. Eventually, your advocates are going to get burned out. Sometimes, advocates just want to have fun. […]

  13. […] November, we gave ourselves a challenge. We wanted to not only engage our VIP advocates during the holidays but also go deeper into […]

  14. […] Heather engages the PGi Insiders through a variety of advocacy challenges. She divides her challenges into three equal pillars: fun, educational and asks. […]

  15. […] active. Katie not only learned that the Ohana hub didn’t have enough challenges, but that the mix of challenges also wasn’t […]

  16. […] week—and removes old challenges after two weeks—to keep things fresh. He recommends posting a mix of educational challenges and fun activities to keep advocates engaged. The more they return to your program, the more likely they are to give […]

  17. […] When I was with SMART Technologies, I posted a form that people could complete if they wanted to engage advocates. The form asked about their goal and took two minutes to complete. I would review the forms and then send my colleagues ideas for advocacy campaigns, asks or challenges. […]

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