Perhaps the pinnacle achievement in marketing today is to build such a strong relationship with your brand’s biggest fans, that they become true advocates – speaking so enthusiastically and positively about your brand, that others might think they actually work for you.
It is, indeed, a rare accomplishment to develop such a relationship. In part I believe that many companies do not recognize the opportunities and benefits associated with nurturing and enabling fans to become true advocates. Nor do they fully realize the path they must embark on.
Serving as a guiding light, here are five brands that have done it right:
Hands up anyone who would’ve thought that Fiskars, a scissors brand, would be able to develop a successful online community? They make scissors! Scissors! But guess what? They recognized a core and common passion that many of their fans have – scrapbooking – and they built a community around it. In fact, the thriving community has evolved to include a variety of different artistic categories. See www.fiskateers.com.
The lesson: A successful community doesn’t need to be centred around your brand. Find a common passion your fans have, related to your brand, and build a community that truly unites your fans provides them with value.
Intuit is an award-winning developer of business and financial management software, having developed a variety of leading products including TurboTax, online income tax software, as well as QuickBooks, accounting software for small business. The company truly has excelled in developing a customer-centric approach to their business. For example, when using TurboTax, people have access to an entire community of other TurboTax users – to ask questions and gain insights as they fill out their tax returns. Moreover, people can also enter into a private chat with income tax professionals, before they have even paid for TurboTax!
The lesson: Brands should do what they can to pay it forward. Provide value to people before they have even paid for your product or service, and imagine the loyalty, enthusiasm and sense of community that can be be generated.
Here is a company and a community with a big twist. The community creates the company’s products, and in essence, the community is the brand. Genius Crowds is a community through which people can submit their ideas for products they’d actually like to see manufactured and sold on store shelves. The community collaborates on product ideas submitted, in an effort to help improve them, and then they vote on their favourites. Genius Crowds then reviews top voted ideas, and selects a few that have the potential – based on a manufacturing and marketability assessment – to be sold in stores.
This is a great example of crowdsourcing. In fact the first product, the Speed Bather (a dog squeegee) is now ready to hit store shelves!
The lesson: Companies can benefit from letting their customers collaborate and participate in the development, and evolution, of their products and services. By tapping into the collective intelligence of their customers, they create opportunities for innovation.
Disclosure: I was a Community Manager for Genius Crowds when I worked at Chaordix.
Sports franchise brands and social media go hand-in-hand, as social media provides an amazing opportunity for fans to bond with their favorite team – regardless of where they are in the world. Canucks fans have turned to social media to share their experiences and emotions, expressing themselves through compelling content ranging from short tweets to engaging videos. At the same time, the organization itself has really excelled at leveraging social media to encourage fan participation and build loyalty – and there is little doubt that the strength of the Vancouver Canucks brand has been significantly augmented as a result.
The lesson: Be open to having your fans generate content, and help them share it on social platforms. Doing so will result in increased loyalty, and will aid in building your fan base.
Are you aware of any remarkable online communities that have helped a company cultivate true brand advocates? Does your company have one, or have you considered developing one?