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Your customers are your greatest marketing asset. Who is better to recommend your brand than the people who have already purchased from you? If you want to turn your existing customers into active spokespeople for your brand, take a look at these tips… and unleash the potential of your advocates.

1. Contests, giveaways and competitions

One sure-fire way of getting the attention of your customers is to run a competition or contest. Brands have been doing this for years, of course, but these days there’s the added social element: brands want you to share the message with your networks too.

Car manufacturer Audi are leading the way when it comes to capturing the imagination of their fans. Their Facebook page has nearly 7 million ‘Likes’, and they focus heavily on social recommendations to bring the conversation to a whole new level. Audi set out to find their most devoted members of the online ‘Audisphere’. 200 of them received an Audi travel mug and flashlight. Klout’s ‘Audiphiles’ tweeted more than 12,000 times about the hashtag #ProgressIs, creating a viral chain of Audi-related chatter online. The company then chose the best tweets and the winner won a trip to California to test-drive Audis, and also got to choose a charity to which Audi donated $25,000.

2. Ask the right questions

If you want to know more about how your brand is perceived, simply ask your customers. British chocolatier Hotel Chocolat uses their till receipts to draw attention to a customer satisfaction survey that gives customers the chance to win a year’s supply of chocolate every time they shop in store or online, which is a great incentive to answer the questions. Offering an incentive is a standard method of obtaining feedback, but be sure to socialize your survey by asking customers to share it once it’s done. As they are already fans, they are likely to share it with their own networks, especially if you offer a great prize such as a year’s supply of chocolate!

chocolate

3. Activate their networks

It is far better to activate existing networks than to set up new ones from scratch. Your advocates may not have wide networks individually, but put them all together and their potential reach is tremendous. A recent Volvo Facebook campaign utilized fans’ networks by getting them to vote for their favorite fun advocate video on Facebook. The campaign soon went viral because of the collective reach of the advocates’ extended networks.

4. Reward referrals

Many brands give out points, coupons or discounts when you refer a friend, but retail promotion site Living Social has a ‘me plus 3’ scheme where you share the link to your latest purchase through the site on your networks, and if three of your friends use the link to buy the same item, your purchase is free! That’s a huge incentive to make the recommendation on your own networks.

5. Use your imagination to reach customers

Crazy stories get people talking, and Red Bull is all about insane stunts. In April 2013, Red Bull landed Air Drop crates into university campuses across the UK, containing 1,000 cans of their new Editions drink. They encouraged people to share the stunt using Instagram and Tweeting #EDITIONSAIRDROP to be part of the hack. They shared the images across Facebook and social media, and the Twitter conversation has been buzzing as students try to find the latest drop.

redbull

6. Use the right networks

If you want to connect with your core audience, be sure to use the right networks. Hewlett Packard wanted to target their business clients to drive social recommendations, so they used the professionals network LinkedIn to connect with their target customers. By setting up a company page and activating the recommendation capability, HP was able to build a like-minded community and create over 2,000 brand advocates in two weeks. The community generated recommendations for the company, in the target peer-to-peer group they hoped to attract.

7. Say Thank you!

It is important to remember that the goodwill of your customers depends on treating them with the respect they deserve. Remember to say ‘Thank you’ when they share your message on their networks, whether it is with points, promotions, coupons, or just plain old words. Customers like to be appreciated, especially when they are going out of their way to share their enthusiasm for your brand.

If customers are loyal to your brand, they are more than happy to talk about it to their friends. Social networking has increased the reach of that message, so be sure to activate this valuable resource and make your customers part of your marketing team.

Originally posted in RingCentral

2013 was a year when the phrase ‘social media marketing’ became simply ‘marketing’. You can’t have a marketing strategy any more that isn’t social – not just the practice of sharing TV ads online, but where calls to action and engagement are central to their success.

So what’s next for social marketing? Let’s take a look forward into 2014 and see where this year’s momentum is taking us.

1. Hyper Interactivity and Real-Time Marketing (RTM)

If last year’s Oscars, Super Bowl or the season finale of Breaking Bad have taught us anything, it’s that events have become hyper connected online and offline. Hashtags have become a central plank to a marketing strategy – and are often featured more prominently than the brand name. We can expect more ad campaigns like the Mercedes Benz #You Drive, which aired during the UK’s X Factor commercial breaks. Viewers ‘drove’ their way around the action, which was split into three parts, each with a cliff-hanger ending, by voting using hashtags on Twitter. The scenario with the most votes aired in the next commercial break. This goes way beyond the practice of airing a high-budget commercial during prime-time TV: marketers know now that this is when viewers’ attention will turn to one of their multiple connected devices, so they need to interact across platforms, involving the viewer, to make sure their message is taken on board. This could be termed ‘real time marketing’, which is a phrase that has received mixed reaction this year, but this is RTM done right – listening to and engaging audiences in creative ways as a central part of a campaign. Continue Reading »

Tweetables from the Article

  • Marketing is social, and so are customers.  Buffer

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Most companies would love to have customers who act as cheerleaders for their brand. Excellent customer service and first-class products might be the basis for persuading your customers to act as brand ambassadors, but there is a critical step that needs to come even before this. How can you expect your customers to be your brand ambassadors if your employees are not? How can you expect your customers to love your brand and rave about your brand if you don’t inspire the same love and advocacy internally?

In 2011 Gallup revealed that 71% of the American workforce is “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their work. How can companies with such a disconnected workforce expect their employees to celebrate the brand and generate positive word of mouth?

It is a simple logic. Yet there are very few companies whose workforce are their greatest ambassadors, whose employees live and breathe their brand’s ethos and their work philosophy, making it almost as famous as their products. Let’s take a look at this elite number of businesses that can boast full engagement within their companies and see how they inspire such loyalty and passion. Continue Reading »

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We’ve all seen them: Facebook posts written by someone at work, counting down the hours till the weekend and complaining about their boss/colleague/job/coffee facilities. Maybe next time we are out buying groceries we see the company’s name and the first thought that comes into our heads is that the coffee in the head office is undrinkable and some of the people who work there could have better personal hygiene.

It isn’t a great advert for the company, is it? It’s so easy for employees to spread negativity about their workplace, to share their lack of enthusiasm and to indirectly tell friends not to buy that brand – they never would themselves. No amount of print advertising or flashy commercials will ever change your opinion of that brand now: you know the inside story.

Contrast this with employees who work for companies like Zappos, Google, Apple, or any number of businesses with highly engaged employees who rave about what great products they make, what a talented team they work with, and how they feel so lucky to be working there because they have always been fans of the products. It’s not just about positivity: in one of their studies Gallup showed that companies with high employee engagement levels have 3.9 times the earning per share compared to their industry peers or competitors. Continue Reading »

Tweetables from the Article

  • Regular rank-and-file company employees have more credibility than executives  Buffer

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