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chat gpt's viral growth is a lesson in customer advocacy

Chat GPT's Viral Growth: A study in customer advocacy marketing

Rosie Brown
By Rosie Brown — February 9, 2024 -

Read time: 5 minutes

Sam Altman, the Founder of Chat GPT, presents a straightforward principle for significant company growth: 'All companies that grow really big do so in only one way: people recommend the product or service to other people,'. This principle, highlighted in his latest blog post, is vividly illustrated by the meteoric rise of his own company, which swiftly attracted one million users within just five days of its November 2022 launch, later reaching a milestone of 100 million users within the span of two months.


chat gpt's viral growth through customer advocacy
Source Reddit


All the chatter around GPT’s astronomical rise has been about its unique and groundbreaking product, so the fact that their CEO has gone out of his way to point to the power of customer recommendations is instructive. Just as Chat GPT's compelling AI-driven conversations encourage users to share their positive experiences with others, in the retail space, where competitors are constantly looking to grab your customers' attention, brands need to differentiate themselves from the background noise of promotions and discounting by offering an outstanding, end-to-end customer experience.


Why Advocacy Marketing Matters in Today's Landscape

Customer advocacy encompasses all activities undertaken by your clients to champion your brand, ranging from recommending your services to a friend, spreading the word about your brand on social media, to posting a great review. This process is vital as it leverages the trust and credibility that comes from a recommendation by a trusted source, leading to organic reach expansion and the attraction of new, high-value customers.

An advocacy marketing approach aims to harness this power by converting your clientele into enthusiastic endorsers of your brand. It strategically uses first-party data to identify your most fervent supporters and cultivates customer relationships to foster advocacy. Much like how NPS provides a tangible measure for customer sentiment and opinions, customer advocacy offers a way to quantify these formerly intangible aspects. Ultimately, delving into customer advocacy not only enhances your brand presence but also fosters a community of loyal customers who actively contribute to your brand's growth through authentic, trustworthy endorsements.


Building Blocks of Customer Advocacy

Even if your product is good enough to satisfy your customers, if your brand doesn’t demonstrate commitment to great customer experience you’ll never elevate the customer relationship to a sense of belonging and loyalty. 

It’s this emotional connection —be it fostered through shared ideals of sustainability, innovation, or social responsibility—that propels a customer to advocate for the brand, effectively weaving the brand story into their personal narrative so that they're not just praising quality—they're signalling an affinity for shared values and a culture they resonate with. Similarly, Chat GPT's users don't just advocate for its functionality but also for the culture of innovation it stands for.


The Power of Word-of-Mouth

The challenge of attracting customers via paid channels and promotions, aside from the damage to your profitability, is that you’re sacrificing quality: You’re more likely to bring one-time ‘transactional’ customers buying on price.

At the heart of any successful brand lies a loyal community that loves your brand. Chat GPT leveraged this very principle by providing a service that was so revolutionary, that sharing it became an exhibition of being at the forefront of technology. This organic, earned growth engine is what turns a great idea into a household name. 

In a world where consumers trust their peers far more than any advertisement, friend-to-friend recommendations become the gold standard for acquiring new customers.


Jumpstarting the Advocacy Loop

So all you need to do is build a great brand and wait for referrals to come flooding in? Not so fast!

First, you need to lay down the tracks for easy and incentivised sharing. Creating that compelling and consistent customer experience means optimising for referral at every touchpoint. Building best-in-class advocacy software into your martech stack provides this capability, along with visibility into the behaviours that drive advocacy networks. Chat GPT’s intuitive sharing features naturally invited users to become brand advocates, driving virality and community growth.

Brands like Huel are excelling in customer advocacy marketing, leveraging the loyalty of their dedicated fan base to attract friends, which in turn drives sustainable growth and bolsters revenue through their customer network.

By tracking word-of-mouth recommendations through the Mention Me platform, Huel knows that up to a whopping 22% of customers refer to their friends. Thinking advocacy-first has produced a significant revenue stream for Huel who are turning 60% of recommendations into new customers through our platform. This is reminiscent of Chat GPT's strategy, where the seamless experience is so engaging that users become natural promoters.

Better yet, compared to non-referred customers, Huel has identified that referred customers introduce 2x more new shoppers, helping to grow their community of customer advocates even more quickly. By harnessing advocacy data to uncover their biggest brand fans, Huel was able to identify, nurture and activate previously hidden segments of their most valuable customers.

The Mention Me Advantage

Since 2013, we’ve been at the forefront of turning happy customers into a powerful marketing force. More than 650 brands have tapped into our platform to generate 6 million referrals and $2 billion in revenue.

Our tools, powered by data and AI, go beyond best-in-class referral programs. We’re pioneering Customer Advocacy Marketing as a discipline, equipping leaders and marketers with the insights and mechanisms to turn customer satisfaction into sustainable growth.

With Mention Me you’re able to focus on the people that love your brand and purpose, deliver experiences that keep fans engaged and active on your behalf, and get your fans regularly recruiting others to the cause to scale your advocacy engine. 



Customer advocacy isn’t just a growth hack—it’s what separates brands like Chat GPT that customers shout about from the rooftops from those who are in a race to the bottom.

To learn more and activate your base of customer advocates, discover the transformative potential of Mention Me’s Customer Advocacy Intelligence Platform: Request a Demo



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