Understanding and activating your true fans is the value you can extract from many listening, researching, and conversational activities. Last week, we talked about how some brands like Ducati have created the context for tribes. During our #kaizenblog chat Friday, we looked to also identify fans of products and brands.
While tribes are connected by a vision, mission and values, fans share a common interest and may not be connected with each other. Vandana Purak said something very interesting during our Twitter chat. She said -- I almost think of tribe as the corporation; fans as the consumers, but the latter can be a subset of the former.
Why wouldn't you be able to look at it that way in 2010? Let's test this idea.
Business as tribe
A business can in fact be a tribe, where people share a lifestyle and a passion for the product and the service they provide -- think of Zappos.com, Apple, Progressive insurance. In fact, it's easier to see how you'd be a fan of a business that develops that kind of internal connection.
During the chat, David Spinks commented that he believes in the organic approach to tribe and community. If we do look at companies as tribes/communities, their organic nature stands. Yes, you will hire the right people, and communicate your vision, mission, and values so they can be embraced by those who choose to join the tribe.
Have you noticed how peer pressure winds its way through an organization? That's precisely why you'd want to adopt collaboration tools like Yammer, wikis, and blogs, internally. We're social, we follow what we see other people do. Which is also the reason why walking the talk is paramount for leaders.
Before you push back with the argument that employees are getting paid to work there, remember that pay is not at the top of the motivational ladder.
Customers as fans
Can you create fans? When you develop a great product or service that responds to their needs, some of your customers may indeed become fans. Are there other ways? Providing content that is helpful, showing genuine interest as you interact with them, giving your customers a platform to see their peers and be helpful in turn to them.
Today, your customer base is probably more fragmented and diverse than it's been in the past. Also, the ways to connect with them have the potential to be more targeted while they're more content intensive and dispersed. That's why many organizations segment their customers.
Part of that segmentation should reveal who your true fans are. Your job is to understand who they are, what they talk about, read, find helpful in relationship to your product and service. In other words, you want to figure out what your bright spot is.What does activation look like?
That's what the Obama social media marketing campaign did -- it activated fans.
Sure, you may use apps or a YouTube channel to activate fans. It starts with understanding who your fans are, where do they go online, which gives you ideas on their information needs. Also discover how they use your products, which will give you an idea of what's important to them.
Give your fans a way to opt in and share your content and ways to answer calls to action. Give them also a way to provide feedback on your services. It will make them more vested in your mutual success and more eager to provide word or mouth referrals for your business.
The most powerful part of activation is the something they care about. Obama had a simple call to action -- hope for change, "yes we can" -- and understood the power of letting go of control, of how people spread the message. The key is to make the message the atom.
Think about rock and pop stars and how they build a following -- the Grateful Dead, and more recently Dave Matthews Band, Nine Inch Nails, Lady Gaga. These artists understand that it's about how their work make their fans feel, having shared symbols, and something bigger than them.
One more thing: not all your fans are the same, think the same. However, when you give them a way to see each other, like a concert for a rock star/band, a game for a soccer team, they will reinforce each other's passion for the brand.
It's important for a business to be able to recognize and reward both -- employees and customers, tribes and fans. What's your take?
[Italian soccer fans by Paul Robert Lloyd]
© 2010 Valeria Maltoni. All rights reserved.