Or how to really engage the true brand fans to become more productive advocates (and save you money while selling more).
So much energy and money is being spent on building what we all describe as big “fanbases” in Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks, that we lose sight of the fact that not all fans are created equal.
In our soon-to-be-released international study on brand advocacy, one finding is clear – the number of highly active and vocal fans for particular brands is quite small. So what are you doing for your best, most connected customers (here “best” might mean most vocal advocates and not necessarily the biggest spenders)? What are you doing for the 1-5% of your fan or follower base who are actually sharing a lot and championing the brand?
Certainly acknowledging them with replies on Facebook or Twitter is good practice. But if you really want to cultivate strong advocacy from those most inclined to express themselves you may want to go further.
Fan Loyalty Programs
Brand have run loyalty programs for centuries. Most are geared towards encouraging customers to spend more. Data programs are run to filter and identify big spenders with tons of nuance about what they spend on and so forth. Our own Lasek Group are expert at designing and running some of the world’s top loyalty programs.
What are relatively new are programs designed to inspire and drive more focused advocacy from the most active advocates. These programs need three components to succeed:
- A technological platform that makes it easy to deliver messages and build insightful profiles
- A steady stream of content, offers and access that the best advocates would find worth their time and their social capital
- A program design and execution discipline based upon the key drivers of behavior
We designed our own Insider Circle as a way to subscribe a group of ‘super-fans’ to a private club where they receive exclusives – content before anyone else, access to interesting people and experiences, product and service offers and experiences. We saw other platforms on the market but none really reflected the feature-set that we had learned from experience were not only valuable but also ‘right-sized’ to the market. That means baking-in social drivers like game mechanics and rewards and making it easy to use other behavior-drivers.
There are other good choices out there now. Social Chorus is one. Greg Shove, CEO, has led a great team to create a useful platform that helps brands identify ‘social influencers’ and then subscribe them via the platform. There is a significant distinction between fans and influencers. Clearly having fans who have the attributes of potential influence (i.e. high-reach and relevance) is ideal. Still, identifying your most vocal fans and being mindful that they likely span the spectrum of high potential influence and to low potential influence is okay.
500 Friends sounds more like a loyalty-minded firm or as they would call it, “LoyaltyPlus”
“LoyaltyPlus empowers you to present your customers with relevant incentives, such as rewards, points, status, recognition, and exclusive access and promotions. Engage your customers at each stage of their lifecycle, from the time they become aware of your brand through conversion to loyalty and ultimately advocacy.”
The platform combines customer rewards, advocacy stimulants (they make it easy and provide incentives), and a way to capture reviews and other consumer generated content.
Now, Dropify adds some functionality to Facebook to deliver content to your community. You can literally lay on an exclusive downloadable video or white paper to your fanbase. It’s not clear of the platform will support targeting that to specific members of your community – like your 1%. It’s also not clear if this functionality is really a step above how we deliver content now through the Facebook Newsfeed. But its inevitable that Facebook and or the network of developers working within that environment will try to get real about the different levels of advocates in the myriad of brand fanbases out there and develop tools to treat them special.
A steady stream of value
Many brands are redefining budgets and staff to support the content needed to mange always-on social networks. It isn’t easy or a trivial matter. But its happening. Now, comes the question of what are you going to hold back and release exclusively to your best advocates?
Most brands are struggling to keep good stuff in the pipeline for the mass Facebook fanbase. Choosing to create exclusives for an even smaller group is tough. They must believe in the power of the ‘super-fan’ over the myth of the mass-engaged fanbase (my bias is pretty clear)
Key drivers of behavior
The more things change the more they stay the same. If your goal is to drive your most vocal fans to action, then you would use the proven drivers of social behaviors. Think Cialdini, Health Brothers, Ariely. If you just start with Cialdini’s ‘6 drivers of persuasion,’ you can see instantly how we bring those to bear. ‘Scarcity’ is what exclusive and limited run offers are all about. These are the assets we make available via the technology platform for a limited time. ‘Social Proof’ lets other advocates see what their peers are doing this reinforcing their own impulse to share particular content.
As you plan out the rest of your 2013 plan and identify next priorities on into 2014, what are you doing to embrace and activate your 1%?