From ‘likes’ to ambassadors

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Brands were a hot topic on Facebook these past twelve months. Various studies confirmed that consumers are becoming increasingly selective. Also, they have no intention of letting brands take over their Facebook timeline. Facebook is primarily used to connect with family and friends. Research conducted by InSites Consulting revealed that consumers want to maintain an active relationship with no more than 5 brands. Other studies showed that consumers seldom if ever “dislike” a brand page. They prefer to hide this brand’s content on the timeline. All the brand in question sees is an increasing number of likes but the consumer himself has hidden the content.

It’s clear that the bar has been raised for social media. With so many actors out there vying for consumer favour, you need to be on top of your game. Hence the necessity for a more strategic and effective approach to our online channels.

A lot of likes is nice, but…

With so many specialists stressing the importance of engagement over brand reach, having a wide reach is all but becoming a source of shame in the current social media climate. I agree that engagement is important; after all, there’s no sense in sending content if it isn’t put to good use. However, I don’t share the notion that reach is unimportant. The more (high-quality) reach, the better. The trick is to build well-balanced reach: good content strong enough to attract attention, while not being overly opportunistic (e.g. too many free giveaways).

Quality content is indispensable if you’re going to conquer consumers’ hearts. It’s a simple fact that a wide reach provides a much higher return on the content you create.

From likes to ambassadors

The end goal is obviously to convert online contacts (likes) into active brand ambassadors. Several strategies are available to achieve that goal:

Consumer involvement

Try to achieve low-level consumer involvement with your company. Campaigns like Lay’s “design your flavour”, McDonalds’ co-creation case and many others clearly demonstrate that consumers are quite willing to take part in a fun campaign. Such a campaign is often as far as it goes but Lay’s came up with an original angle by identifying the super fans amongst the participants in the “design your flavour” campaign. Those fans are now part of a larger community and are frequently consulted by Lay’s. KLM’s “bright ideas” Facebook page was designed according to the same philosophy. This page is almost a 2.0 idea box for consumers to submit ideas and share feedback on KLM’s latest plans. The more involved people are with a brand, the more likely they are to become brand ambassadors.

The consumer-consultant

For more profound and specific questions it’s quite practical to cast the consumer in the role of consultant. In this concept, the consumer-consultant feels very much involved, which ultimately makes him an ambassador. Heineken recently opened a pop-up dance club in Milan. Their goal was to build the world’s coolest and hottest dance club. To make it work they enlisted the help of some 150 designers and clubbers from all across the globe. They photographed things they liked in clubs everywhere, went looking for the most innovative concepts they could find and shared them with Heineken. The club actually got built and a lot of the input provided by the 150 was used in the elaboration of the concept. Needless to say they were very proud to see their ideas reflected in the design of the new club. Involving a small group of people in the development of a new concept is a great idea but consumers also like to help improve the quality of existing products. Simply take care to provide them with transparent feedback because this is the key to creating ambassadors. It’s all very well to use people as consultants but it is absolutely crucial to provide feedback on what the input is actually used for.

Branded utility

Give people something to talk about. Once you succeed in bringing genuine added value to consumers’ lives through your brand, chances are those consumers will spread the word and talk about your products. The classic example is obviously Nike+ but the sequel to this success story came from an unexpected sector when insurers Allianz linked the premium for their life insurance to the intensity of their customers’ weekly sports regimen. The cost of their life insurance is determined using the information from Nike+. This concept offers specific added value and is also an interesting topic of conversation.

Allianz – Run For Your Life from Max Gebhardt on Vimeo.

Increasing the effectiveness of your social media channels in four steps

This blog is based on a section from my new paper ‘How to increase the effectiveness of your social media channels in 4 steps.’ If you’d like to learn more about this approach, you can download the full paper here.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.

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