I find all the recent articles about brand advocates, people that recommend brands (products or services), without being paid to do so, very stimulating. Moving forward, thanks to social networking, aggressive marketers will learn how to better indentify and inoculate these individuals better known as Brandies.
The term viral marketing became popular in the late 90’s. It described the new marketing strategies that were being utilized to creatively convey a marketer’s message that ultimately resulted in the message’s exponential growth and overall influence. The analogy to a biological virus was best framed in the 2003 book Buzz: Harness the Power of Influence and Create Demand by Salzman, Mathia and O’Reilly. They documented three definitive stages:
· Inoculation – The point of where an individual is introduced/exposed to a pathogenic organism.
· Incubation – The time period elapsed between exposure and when symptoms/signs of the virus were apparent.
· Infection – Full blown spread of the virus.
No surprise, the social media revolution has further enhanced viral marketing. As I have shared in numerous blogs, tech savvy marketers are actively listening and engaging with their online communities. They are looking to identify brand advocates, people who are the key/mass influencers in your online community. They will move the needle on your business as your virtual sales force, spreading positive word of mouth and attracting new customers. I call these people Brandies. Once Brandies are identified they need to be inoculated.
One simple form of inoculation is recognition which I addressed in my blog Anticipation. Companies are now learning to utilize loyal product users as a source for open innovation. The case study I shared was Kimberly Clark’s Huggies MomInspired Grant Program which is awarding $250 thousand in seed capital and resources to mothers with great ideas to market. In my industry, foodservice, Papa John’s created the Specialty Pizza Challenge. The contest attracted 12,000 Facebook entries; by August the entries were narrowed down to three finalists whose creations were menued. The big winner was Los Angeles Brandie Barbara Hyman. Her “cheesy chicken cordon bleu” pizza creation accounted for 45 percent of the 250,000 specialty pizzas sold by Papa John’s in August. Papa John’s contest was a viral success.
Whether you are a B2C or B2B company, it is time to identify, inoculate via recognition, your Brandies.