Get your customer help!

The social space is getting so crowded that brands have to work DOUBLY hard to achieve any kind of traction in social messaging. How do you develop awareness around your product or service when the stream is so busy you can’t get a word in edgewise? Here’s one often-overlooked resource in amplifying your message online—consumers.  And not just any consumers, your own customers!

Whether you are a retailer or your market is B-2-B, your consumers are always on the lookout for validation, especially if you’re selling the same thing as the brand down the street. Why should they buy from you versus them? Believe it or not, the customers you already have can help you out with this—and all you have to do is ask.

But this is where a lot of companies fall down when using social. They get so tied up in the parameters of the platform that they forget to think outside it. They sink money into platform advertising, contests, and mobile apps to attract new followers, but forget completely to tap the one source that could exponentially increase their reach… the people who have already bought from them!

Brand advocacy doesn’t come from advertising spend or buying followers via any other social mechanism, folks. It cbromes from people sharing their experiences with your brand via their networks. So how do you get them to do this?

The brand Zaggora does it by going after “ambassadors” of their HotPants™ women’s exercise clothing and rewarding them for sharing their stories. If you take a look at their website, you can see that they’ve got some press going, a magazine they share with their growing email list, and also a healthy Facebook presence, all of which is focused on leveraging the customer’s story. Zaggora understands that their market wants to hear how others have achieved success, lost inches or gained strength before they plunk down their money—so they’ve pulled out the stops to create a great customer experience and reward their ambassadors for spreading the word. It works like magic.

B-2-B companies can tap into the same power. In fact, according to customer advocacy data from the blog, 50% of B-2-B customers are highly likely to recommend a service or product to their networks, 30% of advocates recommend the first time they’re given an opportunity, and a whopping 70% of those advocates’ contacts respond to recommendations.

So how do you dig up potential advocates among your followers? Here are three tools to help you find influencers who are active on social channels and are already sharing your content:

  • Traackr – This app shows you who is influential in your space, as well as what content they’re sharing and how they share it
  • Tweet Reach – Use this tool to find out who is sharing your tweets and who they have touched
  • ReFollow – Peruse your Twitter followers, identify influencers and engage them

Once you find these folks, reach out to them! Think of ways you can thank them for sharing your content or recommending your brand. Remember, your customers have a wide array of networks, so look for potential brand evangelists wherever you have a connection, not just on social channels. Mine your email list, tap into the influence of bloggers, speak to customers (god forbid) in your place of business… find them wherever you can!

At the end of the day, making it your policy to develop good relationships with your customers is what will differentiate your brand from the others. Make that your priority. Create conversations that matter, to those who matter to you. Think engagement, not media. Perform for the promises you’ve made before making new promises. Strive to make every experience with your brand… not routine, but remarkable. Remember… an initial purchase does not make a shopper a customer; repeat purchase is what makes a customer.

Then find and take care of your advocates in social channels and they’ll shout your message from the rooftops!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

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