Fans of your brand need to know about this week’s specials and your great offerings and promotions. Getting the word out is key. But, if your brand sells too hard, those would-be brand evangelists will cut your company off for good. Company social channels work best when time and effort are put into building communities, showing fans whythey should love the brand and encouraging them to interact with each other.

So, how do you strike that perfectly in-tune social chord and get your fans to sing along? Hit the right notes by identifying and sticking to a balance of sales and community building. Give fans the inside scoop and behind-the-scenes peek at what your business has working, and look for opportunities to intersect with their lives in a meaningful way.

Getting Advocates to Sing Your Praises
Here are three ways that your brand can energize consumer advocates and keep them singing your company’s praises:

1. Activate brand ambassadors to speak on your behalf: It’s always better when other people sing your praises, rather than having to toot your own brand’s horn, right? Using brand ambassadors to speak positively about your brand adds credence and weight to your brand perception in the marketplace. There are three basic types of brand ambassadors:

  • Company Owner/Senior Management: Owners and senior managers are automatically, by virtue of their position within the company, brand ambassadors. The people in these positions need to be able to speak effortlessly and enthusiastically about the company they represent.
  • Employees: Not only are employees a valued asset, but they are often viewed as more credible than owners and managers. The best way to turn employees into brand evangelists is to treat them well and have solid business practices. Also, look for employees who are motivated and enthusiastic, with large networks in their social media circles. Make sure the employees you select fully understand your brand’s messaging and can write with proper grammar and spelling.
  • Customers: Your customers are the most powerful brand ambassadors who can evangelize for your business. According to Forrester Research, 36 percent of people in the U.S. are online critics who leave reviews and ratings of products or services, and 68 percent are spectators who read those reviews. Since customers don’t have a stake in the company and have nothing to gain, their word is as credible as it gets in the marketplace. Testimonials from customers can mean more than thousands of dollars spent on advertising. Of course, having great products and superior customer service will produce enthusiastic customers. And, by monitoring your brand online, you can figure out which customers are the most enthusiastic about your brand. After identifying your most zealous customers, check out their social channels to see how wide their circle of influence is. Once you figure out who these customers are, figure out ways to keep your brand at the forefront of their minds by doing things like offering a sneak preview of new products or asking them to share company news with their social circles.

2. Shape promotional messages with flare to keep people interested: The goal here is to constantly add value to the lives of your audience members through sharing information, relating to them, and being authentic. One of the most powerful tools for catching the attention of your customers and fans is through imagery. No matter how much technology evolves, humans are still innately visual creatures. Rich imagery will help get consumers to read your brand’s message and help you move away from overtly promotional postings. Giveaways are also a great tool to getting people excited about your brand, especially if the giveaway can feature user-generated content.

3. Deploy strategies to encourage fan interaction on a consistent basis: There are a variety of tactics at every brand’s disposal to continuously keep fans engaged and enthusiastic.

  • Contests: Contests are a great way of getting fans motivated to talk about your brand and share information. At redpepper, we ran a contest for tween-targeted jewelry and accessories company, Claire’s, to help raise awareness of their BFF (Best Friends Forever) jewelry. We ran a contest designed to encourage the creativity and individuality of our tween girl target audience by asking them to design their own BFF necklace. The fans and participants in the contest voted on the best design, and the winner’s design was sold nationwide at Claire’s stores. By enabling easy voting and sharing, word spread like wildfire which resulted in a growth in Facebook followers that was three times the normal rate of growth for redpepper and a 27 percent growth in Instagram followers in 20 days.
  • Sweepstakes: Another effective tactic is to use sweepstakes to encourage engagement. This tactic is becoming more popular with marketers who are trying to grab the attention of their social media audiences. If you are going to try sweepstakes, choosing the prize is the easy part. The challenge is to make sure your company has a clear objective it wants to accomplish via the sweepstakes. Examples of possible objectives include: 1) Increase awareness of a new product 2) Collect leads with detailed information 3) Increase social followers. Once you’ve launched the sweepstakes, it’s a good idea to ask influencers to spread the word and to follow up with respondents.
  • Other methods of educating fans: Quizzes and infographics are examples of other means of communicating with fans and adding extra value to their lives. The types of quizzes successful in social media circles can vary from personality quizzes, contests, and polls. According to ProProfs, quizzes that ask questions about hobbies and interests have the highest response and sharing rate. When putting together a quiz, consider your target audience, ways to grab their attention, and whether an incentive is needed to maximize engagement. Infographics are great for creating a visualization of complex data or ideas in a way that can easily be consumed and understood. They are also a useful, visual means of communicating information like how-to guides and top five or ten lists. Infographics are helpful for promoting your brand, driving traffic to your site, and getting attention and engagement on social media.

While laying the groundwork to excite and inspire your brand’s fans can take a little time, the reward is well worth the effort. When content shared over social media hits the right chord with its target audience, the growth in awareness can be exponential.