Energize Your Base

I’m enjoying Groundswell, Forrester’s recent book on social media, technology and marketing. It’s full of insights and applications for anyone looking to tap into word of mouth/mouse. The central premise? Focus on the relationships, not the technologies.

After confirming goals and objectives, apply their social technographics tools to help get a better read on what your customers are ready for (in terms of social activity). What’s your unique mix of creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators or inactives? Knowing the dynamics of your customer base allows you to target the right tools for the right effects.

You can energize a core base of loyal customers (creators, critics) and get them talking by applying a few different techniques. Ratings and reviews tools work great for retail oriented brands that have to overcome online purchase barriers (can’t touch or test the product)….Ebags encourages its best customers to publish reviews and ratings shortly after a purchase. Online community sites (through Ning, or customer built) are good ways to build connections among loyal, passionate customers (joiners, spectators). Mini and Harley have great community sites that are only open to owners, and Threadless has built their entire brand/site experience around community.

And brands themselves can stoke the fire by participating in a community experience. David AvRutick, President and CEO of Folbot Kayaks, builds relationships and encourages word of mouse chatter through his postings on the Folbot blog (From The Front) and direct participation on their customer forum.

So if you’re trying to get a handle on the different tools……blogs, social networks, wikis/open source, email, forums, ratings/reviews, tags, RSS, widgets, Twitter….start by getting a handle on your customers. A bit of analysis will help guide you. We’re happy to help too.