Yep. That pretty much sums it up.
Unless you don’t have a connection to the interwebs, you’ve been hearing about a one Taylor Swift surprising and delighting her fans in many different ways.
She’s sent care packages. She’s shown up on doorsteps. She’s held private get-togethers for fans in the cities where she’s toured. And the list goes on and on.
There are many lessons to be learned here about engagement, true surprise and delights, content, etc. But I want to point out two very simple things that stand out to me that haven’t been addressed yet:
1) Taylor doesn’t care about influencers. Well, I’m sure she cares about everyone, but my point is that follower count is not something that is part of the strategy here. The subject of her latest S+D as 500 followers on Twitter at the time of this post – and I’m sure it was lower before of Swift’s gift. Again, she doesn’t care about influencers. She cares about passionate fans. She cares about how she can engage them in a personal, MEANINGFUL way. She’s not reaching out and asking them to share her content. She’s not asking them to join a program. She’s identifying passionate fans – sometimes with a specific need or ask – and engaging them in high touch ways. And look at all the attention it’s getting.
2) At its core, this is a fantastic example of a brand becoming a fan of her fans. And that’s what ties all of these efforts together. It’s much, much more than saying “thank you.” It is admitting that your band would cease to exist without those that support you. Who are pulling for you. And who are showing and telling the world that they are your fans. What’s the biggest way to reward them? Sure, SWAG is nice. Free product. Cool experiences. But the biggest way to reward them? Becoming their biggest fan. And really meaning it.
It’s not rocket science. But it IS hard work. And that’s why you don’t see many brands ever doing it. Love Taylor Swift or hate her, there’s something to be learned here.]]>
The tired way: Agency goes off into a corner and builds the shell of a community hoping people will like it and join.
The inspired way: Building community with the actual people who want to participate.
The tired way: Using ambassadors to sell stuff.
The inspired way: Letting ambassadors be, well, ambassadors. Which, by its very definition, is a messenger of goodwill.
The tired way: Giving ambassadors content created by the company about the company telling them to spread it.
The inspired way: Creating content with and about ambassadors and their lives, then giving them that content and letting them do with it as they wish.
The tired way: Having a cattle call to join – no matter someone’s interest level.
The inspired way: Creating a small barrier of entry – so members put some skin in the game, too.
The tired way: Having an ambassador program revolve around coupons, contests and giving product away.
The inspired way: Creating a program that focuses on members and their lives, providing a strong conduit to connect people and their passions.
Building ambassador programs isn’t rocket science, but it is roll-up your sleeves hard work. But if you build it the right way and keep these tenants in mind, the results and added benefits you’ll see are simply amazing. Plus, you’ll see how it has positive, far reaching effects that reach every corner of your business.]]>
But I’m also a huge advocate of creating influence around people who are already passionate about your brand or industry. And a new study by the social monitoring website Mention proves that the collective voices about your brand are much, MUCH louder than the few influencers that you are praying will mention you. The study analyzed more than 1 billion social mentions over the past two years and found that a whopping 91% of mentions about brands came from people with fewer than 500 followers.
Just think about what would happen if you organized, elevated and empowered all those voices. It’s not only a solid strategy, but a sustainable one. After all, influence can be created – but passion can’t.]]>
But things have changed.
Before we go any further, I’d like to make a couple of things crystal clear. The first is that, to my knowledge, Brains on Fire (my former employer where I helped build the Fiskateer program) hasn’t been a vendor of Fiskars Brands for some many years now. The second is that this post is not meant to cast anyone in a bad light – especially the good folks at Fiskars. They are a company full of smart people and I don’t have the insight to why these changes were made – which could be any number of legitimate reasons.
You see, the Fiskars community – as heralded as it was – looks nothing like the community that was created some years back that led to a 600% increase in online mentions. Or the one that caused a 300% increase in sales in key markets. Or the one that brought a community together online and off to create unbreakable bonds.
The beginning of the end goes something like this: the internal champion of the program left the company to pursue other opportunities. And when that happened, things began to change. The program began to be dismantled. The structure of the program – especially the role of the lead ambassadors, devolved from four, to one, who is now more of a community manager instead of a true lead ambassador. Originally, the leads were encouraged to talk about anything that was going on in their lives. Now? It’s all about crafting and products, causing it to blend in to the noise.
The biggest blow to the program came last year, when the decision was made to move away from the dedicated online community platform to just a blog (with no comments) and a Facebook page. So gone are the threaded forums with members issuing fun challenges to one another or doing random acts of crafting. Gone are the thousands of uploaded images of beautiful crafts that capture amazing memories of the members lives. Gone is the assigning of your unique Fiskateer number or the special one-of-a-kind pair of scissors that you receive in the mail and cherish as a member.
To be honest, everything that made the program special is no more.
But if you want to find a silver lining on this rain cloud, I recently learned that a small group of Fiskateers has gone rogue and started their own private Facebook page. About 150 of them, or so I’m told. They are keeping the idea of what was originally built alive. They are talking about their Fiskateer numbers, their lives and encouraging one another in all aspects of their lives – which is the very foundation of what the movement was originally built on. It warms the heart, to be honest.
The lesson learned here is that when you’re thinking about helping bring together a community – a TRUE community and not in the Facebook sense of the word – you have to think about the life of it. Yes, how it will change, but also how it will change to fit the needs of the members instead of how you can change it to fit the needs of a brand. When you strip away the awesome, you’re left with mundane. When you pull out the things that connect people, you’re left with the status quo. And when you kill the passion, you’re left with just another blog and Facebook page.
Long live the Fiskateers.]]>
1. Integrity. This is a subject near and dear to my heart. Especially in the digital age, there’s so much underhanded, unethical tactics at play. And the people at Edelman wouldn’t touch those practices with a 10-foot pole. You know the old saying that “if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything?” Edelman stands for honesty and truth in everything they do.
2. The people. And not only the people, but how the people are treated. If you looked up 20 agency websites, I’m pretty sure you could find the phrase, “our people are our greatest asset.” But these Edelman folks? They put their money where their mouth is. Winning “Best Place to Work” time and time and time again, from several different sources isn’t too shabby. But then you talk to people who work there, and you hear it again and again how one of the reasons they enjoy building a career at Edelman is because they know they will always be treated with respect and dignity.
3. The people. And this time, let me talk about the crazy, smart, talented network. Not only with the bad mamma-jammas I get to work with across the network, but especially the bad mamma-jammas I get to work with in the Southwest. I’m looking at you, Bri Brewer, Chris Hershberger, Deven Nongbri, Jackie Hopkins and Helen Vollmer. To be a part of THAT group? It’s intimidating as much as it is humbling.
4. The sky’s the limit. The great thing about a global network that is truly collaborative, there’s nothing we can’t do. The deep expertise, not only in disciplines, but in verticals means that we can build any kind of team around any kind of project imaginable. That’s a rarity. And something I can’t wait to take advantage of in my own backyard and across the globe.
So I think you get the idea. I’m excited. I’m humbled. And I’m diving in.
Let’s do this.]]>