Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Social Media Marketing: Fan Boys Come For Free

Posted by Tom Foremski - August 5, 2009

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Companies love to have enthusiastic customers because the passion that comes with enthusiasm sells. Word-of-mouth is the most effective driver of sales bar none.

Companies love enthusiastic customers that have blogs, are active on Facebook, Twitter, etc because they can reach more people. But how do you get enthusiastic customers?

Can you buy enthusiastic customers? Can you fund a marketing or PR program that could increase the number of enthusiastic customers?

No. The fan boys come for free.

Take Apple as an example.

Apple has one of the largest communities of customer enthusiasts. You don't need to give your enthusiasts any discounts. In fact, they will pay premium prices to get your products and services first.

You give the price cuts to others, later on, to the customers that aren't as enthusiastic, the ones that compare on price and value and less on brand.

If Apple were an airline it wouldn't have a frequent flier plan.

If you are like Apple, there is no need to monitor the social mediasphere to see what people are saying about your brand and to step in if need be. In fact, your fanboys will step in more quickly than you can and criticize any critic. It's a sweet deal.

There are important lessons here for companies looking for more enthusiastic customers. Do like Apple, concentrate on great products sold at a premium and ignore the social media marketing. Any negative conversations can be safely ignored.

Or you could try to recruit Apple fanboys (and girls). After all, you know it's a savvy early adopter crowd that is very vocal online and offline. And it has money.

I would create a special First Adopter Network (FAN) community and provide it with discounts and first-looks at new gizmos, gadgets, and services. Maybe even discounts on Apple products in exchange for their feedback and their online enthusiasm.

Heck, if Apple isn't interested in corraling its Fanboy community someone else should do it.

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