See how big brands nailed social engagement by community fan clubs

Apple, Starbucks and Sephora smartly identified their targets, crafted a great message and chose the correct outlet to engage them. How?

Prominent social media strategist Bob Mangat says, “People are not focused on where their market is. Before starting anything online, you need to have a strategy down pat to go after your target market. By spending time identifying target audience, crafting a message, and choosing the correct outlet, you can save a lot of time, energy, and frustration by doing it this way.”

Three noted brands decided to think out of the box when it came to social brand engagement. Starbucks, Apple and Sephora created community platforms or official fan clubs around their targets.
 1. They implemented smart community management by keeping ghost community managers who emerged as the Go-To people for problem solving.
 2. They gamified their community to reward members that motivated consumers to take the pains of log-in and visiting the page. These rewarded members became their most natural brand advocates.

Direct advantages of community/official fan clubs
 / Better and actual ROI and saving of time
 / Consistent but predictable long-term investment
 / Your managers drive the forum, your customers become brand advocates in a trustworthy environment
 / Play with UI, interfaces, features, rewards and gamification to keep users engaged and motivated
 / Measure valuable customer feedback. You own your customers’ data indefinitely
 / Unscattered community where ONLY actual fans exist and interact

Case#1: MyStarbucksIdea
A community forum on the official website of Starbucks.

Results: 1,50,000 consumer ideas submitted in five years. 270 ideas launched.

Starbucks creates official fan club for ideas

How did it enhance Starbucks as a brand?
 / There are more than 3 million mobile payment transactions per week in Starbucks US stores – including quite a few happening in drive thru locations (Idea #202)
 / Consumers helped introduce new flavors, including skinny beverages, Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Blended Beverages™ (Idea #144) and Hazelnut Macchiato (Idea #275)
 / More than 5.8 million cake pop treats enjoyed each year, thanks to customers sharing ideas for smaller sized treats in Starbucks stores (Idea #128)

Direct gain from community forum: Consumer ideas brought to life by channelizing consumer sentiments and behavior.

Case# 2: Beauty Talk Sephora
A community forum for discussing, talking about and getting opinions and help on Sephora products.

Results: Purchase decisions made faster by 50%, superfans now spend 10 times the amount of average customers.

Sephora Beauty Talk Community Forum

How did it enhance Brand Sephora?
 / Brand advocacy increased manifolds, drove sales, organic reach. Questions were immediately answered on the forum
 / Community managers steered discussions while consumers did the problem-solving for each other
 / Gamified the BeautyTalk program by creating 38 different levels so consumers found it fun to move up the ranks by posting and talking more frequently. This gave them valuable consumer data

Direct gain from community forum: Thought leadership in beauty knowledge created by the customers for the customers. Sephora answers are now quoted in beauty magazines. Organic reach that enhanced brand awareness.

Case# 3: Apple Support
A social community site on Apple’s official website.

Results: Niche community of Apple users, trustworthy and authentic reputation, user-generated content

Apple Official Support Forum for Customer Support

How did Apple Support Communities help Apple?
 / Got a problem-solving reputation
 / Consumers found empathic fellow users facing the same technical problem or challenge
 / Quick answers to questions
 / Great cataloguing for products, problems
 / Gamification through reward points made consumers motivated to answer questions for other consumers
 / Their community manager Linc Davis became a household name among Apple Fans and they came to respect him for his problem-solving abilities (nobody knows his actual identity but people trust him and Apple)

Direct gain from community forum: Actual ROI in the form of sales, no compulsion for wasting time on Facebook. Became a one-stop-shop for any kind of Apple product problem solving in the world.

You may be fretting or triumphing every day over your social media engagement. Yet even the most successful Twitter or Facebook engagement rate happens to be between 1-3%. What’s worse, a growing fan base on social media doesn’t guarantee results. Despite thousands of fans, your social media strategy may not yield sales or branding. At Vinfotech, we are huge fans of official brand fan clubs. We should talk.

  • Develop a smart community management platform
  • Appoint ghost community managers to steer discussions
  • Gamify your community
  • Reward superfans

About Vinfotech

Vinfotech creates world's best social networks for employees, customers, interest groups and sports fans. We promise initial set of real engaged users to put turbo in your social network growth. Our award winning software vSocial™ allows us to build stellar customized communities faster and better. Our customers include Aston Martin, Burberry, Arabian Gulf League and Snapdeal.

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