So, now we know the difference between brand loyalty and brand fandom, as well as on how to attract fans. This month we will take a look at how to ignite your brand’s fans , inspire them to be advocates and ensure they remain fans.
Advocacy is a major difference between a loyal customer and a brand fan. With consumer decisions increasingly influenced by social media and peer reviews, rather than advertising, having brand fans that will advocate for your product or service holds great value. No longer will one disappointed customer tell a select few in their social circles about their negative experience. Nope, they will broadcast to hundreds in their social media sphere who, if it is compelling enough, will rebroadcast it. Truly, consumers have a power like never before, and even large corporations have been forced to respond to bad PR in social media to save face.
But that is the negative. Positive experiences can likewise be broadcasted through brand fan networks. This is the goal. Here are some things to consider that will build advocacy and retain fans:
Give them something to talk about. Yes, it was Bonnie Raitt who famously sang that phrase that essentially sums up publicity. But it should be obvious that brand fans are not going to spout the good word about what you do without having something to spout about. What might that be? Well, ideally, your product or service. Be sure it is unique in the market. Build an experience in to all aspects of the transaction, service or product. Make it special. But also make it easy for them to re-broadcast your message by providing content in all communications – and especially social media – that has genuine value and relevance. Everything you post can’t be intended to market your brand. Build trust and authority by ensuring that the majority of what you share in your newsletter, blog, Tweet or Facebook post is aligned with your brand, mission and values. For instance, if you are a dentist, post something newsworthy about dentistry, like a recently released study.
Push and pull, don’t just push. Traditionally, organizations would market at customers and clients. Today, savvy organizations market with their supporters. This is engagement. Use media to create dialogue by asking questions. Solicit photos or testimonials to be published in your media. Build a “wiki” section to your website where customers update their own FAQs, tips, etc. Find a way to create a two-way street with you and those you serve that is available for public consumption. And do not fear if some negative things pop up. These things are already being said, but here you have an opportunity to respond.
Every good dog deserves a bone. Reward the most active participants in your fan outreach, engagement initiatives. From simply offering a deal to those fans that bring other fans to offering a bigger prize for those that find new uses for your products, incentivize participation. But don’t make this over the top. Real fans will do it for free. And when they do, all they often need is a response for incentive. So, be sure to respond to comments on blogs, thank them for re-tweets, and comment on wall postings.
Be true to your heart. Yes, this is the common thread throughout this fan series: Be sure to maintain authenticity and uphold your values at all times, through every transaction. If your brand’s values are well defined, and you believe it in your heart, this should be easy. But cross that line and fans will drop off fast. Just ask the Dixie Chicks.
No place like face-to-face. Occasionally, host a speaker, seminar, happy hour, round table, etc. that is aligned with your brand values. This involves going beyond your product or commercial service. Market this event and invite the fans to come. If the additional service offers real value, people will come and meet other fans and strengthen their connection to you, while building a disctinct fan community that carries with it strong fandom of your brand.