How to Convert a Customer to a Passionate Brand Ambassador
Turn Passion Into Brand Evangelism
I pinched myself when I was recently invited by the Tampa Bay Lightning to be the Social Captain for a game. The opportunity for me to combine my love of hockey and my favorite NHL team with social media is up there with a day at the beach.
The Tampa Bay Lightning hockey club anoints a Social Captain for each game. The social captain is a fan that is asked to share their social media chops with their friends before and during a game. The fan is provided entry into the game, given a behind-the-scenes tour prior to the game, meeting some VIPs along the way and is provided prizes and give aways to promote during the game through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Fans in attendance follow along through hasthtags such as #TBLightning, #BoltsSocial and #LightningStrikes. I got to meet Dave Andreychuk, the captain of the Lightning in 2004, when they won the Stanley Cup (featured in the image above). That was a huge thrill for me!
Harness The Influence of Passionate Fans
The Social Captain is a fan. There is no monetary compensation to the fan. The compensation is an awesome fan experience along with some exposure to the fan base. I must admit that I prepped for the experience by studying the website and Twitter stream to be prepared for questions from other fans. It’s almost as if I considered myself an employee representing the brand, even if for just one game. I truly wanted to be capable of representing the brand well…Imagine how powerful it would be to have customers with this much passion for your brand eagerly desiring to evangelize your brand?
Social Captain In Other Industries
This experience inspired me to imagine how a social business might apply the Social Captain concept in other industries outside the sports industry. Consider applying this concept in these possible ways:
Social Captain in Manufacturing
Find a customer who has demonstrated loyalty and passion for your product. Offer to shoot a video of your customer using your product in his or her natural setting. Allow the customer to be totally authentic in telling their story. Don’t script it. Alternatively, provide one of your products as a gift or loaner and invite the customer to tell their story experience on their own through their social channels.
Social Captain in Retail
Select one or more employees who embody your brand. Empower the employee to capture their experience serving customers through photos, video, tweeting and live blogging. If possible, provide a writer who can create live blog content accompanied by video. Run this program on a weekly or monthly basis with consistently used hashtags and don’t be surprised to see employees competing for their chance to be your social captain brand ambassador.
Social Captain in Services
There are many possibilities for a Social Captain in a services businesses depending on whether your service business is B2C or B2B. If you’re a B2C service business, you can directly emulate the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Social Captain concept. For B2B service businesses, identify a loyal client with subject matter expertise and invite him or her to be a guest blogger or regular contributor of content on a relevant subject. Additionally, consider the approaches described in the retail and manufacturing industry above.
Social Captain in Technology
Lots of potential here…Depending on the nature of your tech product, locate a power user whose savvy use of your product is impressive or innovative. Recruit these power users employing tactics described above.
Four Factors in a Successful Social Captain Program
- Must be authentic. Do not ask your Social Captain to be an advertisement. Allow him or her to be natural and creative. Don’t put them in a box.
- Make the Social Captain feel special. Give him or her the red carpet treatment. Harness their passion for your brand. Show your appreciation for it. Give them a platform to be noticed. They’ll love you for it.
- Promote the Social Captain concept to create buzz and inspiration to attract ambassadors among your loyal customers.
- Describe clearly the criteria for someone to be a Social Captain. You may notice some complaining because you didn’t select them. If you communicate the selection process clearly, your community will support you.
The experience I had as the Social Captain for the Tampa Bay Lightning was a blast. This organization does everything first class. Their employees are trained to strive for 100% customer satisfaction. So, it’s no surprise their Social Captain program is first class. In the future, I expect the Social Captain concept to be adopted by other social businesses who recognize the power of brand ambassadors among loyal customers. These are the companies that understand what it means to be a true social business.