“Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership.” — Derek Sivers
So much about marketing, these days, involves conversations with the people who eagerly and happily buy what you sell. It’s about engaging with the folks most likely to tout what you do and how you do it. That kind of promotion is authentic. It’s genuine. And it’s more effective than advertisements because the influence such brand ambassadors have with their social circle is persuasive, deep and — it’s worth noting — free!
But finding potential brand ambassadors is not as easy as identifying the disgruntled customers. Complainers are usually loud and persistent. Businesses don’t even have to look for them because they make themselves known. They want resolution and tell that to as many people as they can.
Quietly satisfied customers, however, are a business’s buried treasure. They would speak up — if they were encouraged to and had a reason to.
Finding these gems is easier now, with social media, than before. Companies can use Google Alerts. Or Topsy Alerts. They can track hash tags and other mentions on Twitter. Other analytical tools exist, as well (many of which are free or well priced.)
Think of it like panning for gold. Using these social media tools like sieves, businesses can find these valuable nuggets like old-time prospectors found hidden gold in streams or underground.
The most important part of the process, though, isn’t finding the quietly happy customers. It’s the next step: connecting with them. Ask them why they love the service or product. Make sure they know how much they are valued. Give them perks and other special treatment to show it. (This doesn’t have to be expensive — it can be discounts, coupons or freebies.) Keep them coming back and keep them happy to do so. Entice them to share their experiences more widely through social media. Encourage them, in other words to become brand ambassadors. Give them a reason to speak up.
Doing that taps a rich vein that would otherwise yield more limited value. Quietly satisfied customers are great. But customers who become vocal converts can be priceless.
These customers are not leaders in the sense of being the earliest adapters. Instead, they strike me more like the first follower this video shows. Not leading. But joining in with the leader. In this clip, the leader acknowledges the first follower. And encourages the first follower, who stays. Soon, other followers join, too.
Quiet supporters can be as valuable to a business as the first followers to a movement. They spread the word. They lure others. They spark momentum.
So find them, connect with them and keep letting them know you consider them important. That you want them to keep following.
I’d be eager to hear whether you’ve got a different view.