What better way to spread the word about a brand or TV show then with the help of loyal fans? TV networks, Hotels, Airlines and Restaurants are finding new ways to improve CRM with loyalty campaigns and social media programs that convert TV fans, hotel guests, airline passengers, restaurant patrons and followers into brand advocates.
Over the years, self-appointed TV evangelists have been known to preach their way into the homes and pocketbooks of millions of TV watchers. While the genre has lost most of its allure and credibility, social media is now using the term with a positive twist. 'Evangelists" is used today to describe fans who like to share their passion for what they like via social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. And NBC's "Fan It" initiative is aimed at turning social media 'evangelists' into an ad hoc promotional team for the network.
For those that are embracing the new medium of social media, the 'wisdom of crowds' has taught us, a trusted recommendation from a follower or friend on Twitter of Facebook is more powerful than any branded message an advertising agency can push out vis a vis traditional advertising channels.
According to an AP release, NBC campaign will rely on this premise while incenting TV fans who want to share their favorite programs in the NBC lineup of shows with their fans on social networks. Incentives to do so comes in the form of points that can then be redeemed for sneak previews of shows, NBC merchandise and entry into a sweepstakes to win big-ticket items such as attendance at the finale of "The Biggest Loser" or a prop from "The Office."
A similar social media promotion was done for this season of "Chuck" where David Paul of Turlock, California was awarded the prize of his photo included in one of the title character's flash-of-brilliance sequences in the May 25 finale.
"It's no secret NBC is building an experience in which fans can express themselves," NBC president of Entertainment Marketing Adam Stotsky noted, and "if you create a respectful relationship with the audience and reward them in a respectful way, viewers appreciate it."
Converting evangelists or advocates into a fan base is also being used in other vertical markets. Flip.to, a social media service for hotels, airlines and restaurants is currently in beta, offering hotel guests, airline passengers and restaurants patrons incentives to communicate with their social network followers after booking a room, reserving an airline seat or purchasing a meal.
Flip.to developed by Novologies believes that during the online confirmation process, customers can actually become an extension of an operation's sale force. At the James Chicago Hotel, all guests who book a guestroom online are entitled to a 'guestroom upgrade' every time they tweet or provide a status update to their individual social media communities.
In turn, those followers are incentivized to provide that guest with suggestions as to what to "see and do" when the guest actually stays at the James in Chicago on a a map that pinpoints the geolocation of the hotel and all the area attractions, theater and night life that's in close proximity. Since followers like to assist other followers with these types of recommendations, this process is a natural interaction between the advocates and the advocates' social networking communities on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
The Concierge at the hotel can also use the this same page to communicate directly to the guests 'in-house' offering additional incentives at the hotel's restaurant, discounts at area theaters or inviting them to special events like a 'managers cocktail party' on a certain night of the week. Since every Suggestion Page is a unique URL for each guest, guests can check back to their own page regularly to catch updates as they come on from his or her circle of followers.
The "Fan It" initiative extends through the 2010-11 season and will involve new and returning TV shows on that network. To get a sneak peak at the upcoming season, NBC will present its fall schedules to advertisers May 17.
Flip.to is adding a chain of hotels in Southeast Asia to its beta clients, which presently include the James Chicago and the Dave Burke's Prime House Restaurant. Other hotels, airlines or restaurants still interested in becoming part of Flip.to's beta development should take a tour of the their Web site and register to be considered a Charter Member of the program.
Social Media brand advocates and evangelists gravitate toward campaigns, products and services that are authentic and feel natural. Both "Fan It" and "Flip.to" both interact with fans and customers in a way that makes them feel intrinsically involved in the communication process.
In a post I wrote recently titled, "Magnetic Marketing In Social Media Pushes Past
Push-Pull Marketing," magnetic marketing is defined as the time when the consumer and brand are
drawn together, at the right time, without either side needing to take
an aggressive action." Like a magnet, the customer and brand come
together because the attraction is that strong. This is the paradigm at work with both NBC's "Fan It" and Novologies' Flip.to.
Now the folks over at Volkswagen headquarters have a very different process going on. But that's fodder for whole 'nother post!