My class had the privilege of having GI of Fancorp with us in class via Skype from Texas. He showed us the consumer side and back-end of the fancorp platform for Chili’s called Chilihead Nation as well as getting influencers involved. The service uses gamification to encourage influencers to send messages while gaining small rewards. It targets those most influential and most dedicated and loyal to the product or brand and give them a community to join others. It is not targeted at the casual fan or customer. One of the gamification elements is a “scoreboard” of those who have done the most tasks to score points and send messages out through social media for the product or brand.
I got to thinking about the very top five customers or so. Even amoung the most active influencers, they are atop everyone. Besides giving them deals and free products, it seemed to me that there might be a special way to utilize these passionate people.
Later that night I happened across an infograph about community managers. I followed a link to Erin Bury, community manager of Sprouter, talking about what a community manager is and what they need to be for good hire. I believe six of the nine characteristics Bury lists can be found in the very top of those dedicated customers. Customers who have a following and passion for a brand over all others and are already spreading those messages over social media without pay are likely to be a culture fit, have interest in the industry, have social media experience, writing skills, willingness to work around the clock, and an outgoing personality.
Some community managers work all alone while others are part of teams led by a director of community. Those who are not part of a social team need a lot more experience in communications, public relations, and marketing. This probably won’t be found by looking through the most dedicated customers. However, if a director of community was looking to add to her or his social team I wonder if taking those already most dedicated to a product or brand and then giving them the tools and small training they need would make for extremely successful community managers.
Star Trek: Phase 2 is a completely fan made series and carries a 6.5 rating on IMDB.com. In 2008 an episode was nominated for a Hugo award, which is given out by the World Science Fiction Society. Customers and fans are often far more embedded in the community of a product or brand than those who join a business originally for the job and paycheck. Star Trek episodes may seem like an entirely different ballgame than trying to influence customer to buy shoes or bring people into Chili’s, but having someone so involved with and incorporated into the culture has the possibility to be very beneficial to a social team.