Over at Next Great Thing, they pointed to a new social networking report from Hitwise that says that in 2008, we will see the emergence of a “super brand advocate”. As the report states:
Whether via a personal blog or as a key member within a community, super-advocates are well informed, opinionated and have the ability to make or break a product launch or ruin a hard-earned reputation.
However, NGT hits the nail on the head when they point out that “Super Brand Advocates” are nothing new. In 2007, Yahoo & Mediavest put together a report on Passionistas that talked about Super Brand Advocates as people who “have both knowledge and a need to share it.” It’s pretty common sense that some consumers are going to talk more than others…I’m sure you know a few o fthis people yourself.
But while Super Brand Advocates aren’t new, they are powerful and it is getting easier to connect and identify them. Blogs, social networks, Flickr, Twitter, Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Tweetscan…all of these allow you to listen to your consumers. And if you can listen, you have a better chance of hearing who is talking the most and/or talking the loudest. These are your super brand advocates. These are people like Jeff Jarvis who caused Dell a serious case of heartburn a few years back. These are people like Harriet Klausner who has written so many book reviews on Amazon.com that her comments are now highlighted in new book releases.
Every brand out there should be thinking about identifying these super brand advocates for your industry. At the very least, you need to be aware of them so problems don’t pop up. But if you use them the right way, they can be invaluable sources of consumer research. The key is starting a conversation with them so you can really learn what they want from your brand. This isnt about a simple focus group where you talk for 2 hours, give them a check and then leave. It is about an honest conversation where you enroll these consumers into your brand.
For most of us, taking the first step isn’t easy but it will be worth it. We’re not use to open conversations with consumers. We are use to hiding behind the focus group glass and the safety of being anonymous. But now is the time to break that glass. Take the first step and do a blog search to see who is talking about your brand. Plug your brand name into Tweetscan to see who is saying something. Even think about engaging your PR agency or a company like Nielsen BuzzMetrics to monitor the conversation. A good conversation is worth the time.