Archive for July, 2010


Altimeter Report: The 8 Success Criteria For Facebook Page Marketing

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Report Snapshot (full report embedded below)
Altimeter Group conducted research, and gleaned input from 34 vendors, agencies, and experts, to determine success criteria and develop a roadmap for Facebook page best practices. We found Eight Success Criteria for Facebook page marketing, and then tested the maturity of 30 top brands across six industries.

Our heuristic evaluation revealed that brands fell short – nearly half of the brands we reviewed (14 out of 30) did not fully leveraged social features to activate word of mouth, the hallmark behavior of social networks. Within this immature landscape, a few brands were on the right track to successfully harnessing Facebook page marketing. Brands like Pampers, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and AXE increased engagement and activated word of mouth through advocacy and peer-to-peer interactions, or solicited business call to actions that result in transactions.

How should brands approach their Facebook page marketing? We asked the experts.
Research means digging in deeper to find the truth,  and we know our place in the ecosystem is to work with others.  As a result, we had a call for submissions, and we received input from 34 vendors, agencies, brands, and individual experts. We read blog posts, looked at examples, and reviewed case studies.

360i, AKQA, Awareness, The Community Roundtable, Context Optional, Digital Evolution Group, Edelman Digital, Facebook, Gigya, Horn Group, Inside Facebook, Janrain, KickApps, Lithium, LiveWorld, Ogilvy’s 360° Digital Influence, Razorfish, RockYou, SHIFT Communications, Spredfast, StepChange Group, a Powered Company, Vitrue and Wildfire Interactive. We also received input from individual contributors such as: David Armano, David Berkowitz, Bert DuMars, Charlene Li, Dave McClure, Annie Noll, Shiv Singh, Adam Smith, Justin Smith, Jason Sullivan, and Anita Wong.

8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing
After pouring over the data from the ecosystem we’re part of, we found a clear pattern. There was a consistent set of criteria we heard from the industries experts, we found the following 8 criteria:


8 Success Criteria for Facebook Page Marketing

Then, we put 30 brands to the test to find out who’s doing it right –and wrong.
We then took that criteria, created a scorecard with quantitative criteria, and measured the world’s top brands on their Facebook efforts to find out who’s doing it right, and who’s not.  In the embedded report, you can download many of the high level findings, as well as see screenshots, comparison by industry and read our recommendations.


Facebook Success Criteria Scoring: By Brand

About the Altimeter research team.
For this report, I’m very thankful to work closely with Altimeter Partner, Alan Webber (bio, Twitter), who served as Editor. Alan is a multi-talented guy who stems from Forrester with a strong background in web user experience, and was able to tighten down the scorecard methodology which we’ll use to help clients. Christine Tran, Researcher (blog, Twitter), lead a detailed and thorough research process, always kept the ball rolling and is a consistent and reliable source of quality work, long hours, and positive energy. I’m very thankful for both of their consistent help!

Our belief in Open Research: It works when you share it
We want to be facilitators of the ecosystem and want to work closely with the marketplace.  We’re publishing our report under Open Research, at no-cost under creative commons licensing, this report was 100% funded by Altimeter Group, we also do our best to disclose our financial relationships.  To make Open Research work, we hope you read it, spread it, and use it to improve.  If you found this research report helpful, please embed it on your blog, email it to your teams, and spread it to others.

Related Links

Update: We’ve posted additional data that wasn’t specifically in the report, read more here.

Webinar Recording: Impact of Social Technologies to the Analyst Industry

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Earlier this week, we hosted a joint webinar with Barbara French of Tekrati, Jonny Bentwood Edelman AR practice, and Carter Lusher of Sagecicle (Carter and Barbara were able to make it to The Hangar, see pic).  The topic?  To explore how social technologies impact the industry analyst space.

The Impact of Social on the Analyst Industry: A Roundtable w/ Jonny Bentwood, Barbara French, Carter Lusher, and Jeremiah Owyang from Altimeter Group on Vimeo.

We explored definitions, major impacts, disruptions to middle men, impacts to research, influence and personal brands. There’s no doubt that like the media industry, the analyst industry has been impacted by these simple publishing tools, and we’re seeing new business models appear like Open Research, at Altimeter Group, and variations at firms like Focus.com. The trio debated concepts and we tied it up to give final recommendations to analysts and analyst relations professionals.

Specifically for analysts what are the impacts?

  • Analysts can use these tools to listen in and identify research efforts.  They can also use it for primarily qualitative research.
  • Analysts can go direct to the product managers, and in some cases bypassing AR professionals.
  • Can develop personal networks, career brands, that carry with them further than reports under an umbrella brand.
  • Analysts finally realize they are also media in addition to their traditional roles.

Would love to hear your commentary after listening in to the discussion, what are topics that need to be dove into further?

First Take Analysis: Jive Fills Warchest, Ready to Battle Enterprise Software Giants, IPO

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By Industry Analysts, R “Ray” Wang @rwang0 (Enterprise Strategy) and Jeremiah Owyang, @jowyang (Customer Strategy) both founding partners at Altimeter Group

Community Platforms Evolve to Social Business Category
Having tracked the social business category for some years now, and have been watching the category grow, and expand into other niches.  At first, the community platform space (like Jive) was insular, focused on only on enterprise communities, but has now grown into Social CRM, Application Platforms, Social Media Management Systems, Brand Monitoring, corporate email systems and eventually to deliver a customer experience that’s native to the customer. It may be social, it may be mobile, it may take even radical forms in including in store displays.

The Situation – C Round Funding
Jive, who recently raised a $15mm in 2007 has capped off their war chest with a hefty $30mm ‘C round’ for a total of $57.5 million in total.  Why this large amount?  ‘D rounds’ are virtually non-existent out of Sand Hill road, and if they need investment they’ll have to get from a partner corporation.

Altimeter Group SWOT Analysis

Strengths:
Jive has been hailed as a leader in the social software class, (Forrester Wave, and three Gartner Quadrants), and continues to show growth with large clients, claiming sales in the range of “$75,000-$150,000 per customer, closed ten $1 million deals, four of which closed in the last two quarters. While Jive is not yet cash-flow positive, he company has 3,000 customers, 15 million users, and will end the year on a $100 million run-rate” (source).  Their recent acquisition of brand monitoring company FiltrBox demonstrates the pre-cursor of SCRM systems, and have made a variety of strategic partnership including with early-to-market social business consultants Dachis Group.  They’ve recently hired a new CEO, Tony Zingale who is a seasoned leader of Mercury Interactive, where he clinched $1B revenues and lead a $5B acquisition to HP.  Lastly, they’ve shifted HQ from Portland to tech (and VC) centric Palo Alto.

Weaknesses:
They’re undergoing a cultural shift from a hip Portland startup, to becoming a tried and true enterprise player.  With a new CEO (Tony Zingale), and with a new CMO (Kiker has moved on) to take the helm soon, they’ll have to undergo both an internal mindset change as they shift to battle enterprise players.   Also, as Jive takes on larger clients, they risk alienating their small and medium size clients who can’t afford, or can’t scale with Jive’s new value proposition.

Opportunities:
Expect this war chest to be used to bolster the sales and marketing team.  C-rounds often focus on getting the company ready for a “material” event.  Jive will most likely use this time to build out significant partner channels and business development with enterprise clients.  Platform investments should support new partner models that support value added service growth.  Altimeter expects Jive to focus on bookings and immediate recurring revenue in order to maximize value for a “material” event.

Threats:
Key threats come from larger vendors who may suddenly gain a “social” religion, they’re moving from dominating the small pond of community platforms to big and must bolster for a new type of battle in the enterprise application market.  Should an Oracle or SAP decide to enter the market, it may make overtures for an acquisition.  Salesforce.com and RightNow are the biggest CRM threats as they have integrated with key social business constituents and Chatter offers competitive features on an existing footprint of customers. Mainstay social business platform Microsoft Sharepoint can continue to win favor through having a large direct and channel sales force, and new vendors like Broadvision who stem from a traditional eBusiness heritage.  Although they’ve been compared with Lithium in the past, we don’t see them as a direct competitor as both these vendors will develop friction directly with the larger enterprise software players.   Jive’s CEO Tony Zingale has been quoted as diminsihing the incumbents as having Social media “bolt on” features and Jive bloggers are already throwing bombs at CRM vendors.  Yet, expect these incumbents to use their existing enterprise footprints, CIO relationships, and direct and channel sales teams to their advantage.

Altimeter Group’s Take

  • Jive has hit a milestone moment, as this 30mm dowry prepares them to move into a new category, this is an accelerant.  This money will be used for rapid expansion as organic growth will not be enough to achieve velocity that existing enterprise incumbents may already be able to leverage.
  • Jive must partner with more system integrators, enterprise class software vendors, and integration providers to gain a solid foothold with enterprise buyers.  The money is clearly in the enterprise buyer market where existing ERP, CRM budgets can be gleaned.
  • Expect Jive to bolster recurring revenues, and stabilize growth, and prepare for an IPO in 2011 –an achievement we haven’t heard much about here in Silicon Valley for nearly 10 years.

The Bottom Line For Competitors – Don’t Be Last To Play Catchup
Market and solution footprint consolidation will continue around the key components of social business.  Expect market laggards and legacy competitors to work out their build/buy decisions over the next 8 to 12 months.  Most legacy software vendors lack not only the R&D prowess, but also the DNA to successfully launch a social product.  Early consolidators will gain the best deals.  Laggards will be odd man out during the rapid consolidation in the next 18 to 24 months

The Bottom Line For Buyers – Invest In Jive But Keep Them Vested In Your Success
Jive will emerge as one of the winners in providing social business solutions.  The company has the potential to IPO and succeed as an independent provider.   Other competitors will emerge and play catchup over the next 24 months.  However, should an IPO event succeed, the funding will provide Jive with the war chest to go after adjacent competitors and build out its base.  During the journey towards an IPO, customers and prospects must keep the management team focused on investing in successful deployments and outcomes, ensuring they get rapid service and support despite focused on top line growth.


The Altimeter Group is a Research Advisory firm focused on disruptive technologies, located in San Mateo.  We believe in openness, and disclose our clients with their permission, as a result, we hope you’ll trust us more.

(Forbes) Greenpeace Vs. Brands: Social Media Attacks To Continue

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After the recent social media brandjackings by Greenpeace of Nestle’s Facebook page, this was an important area that required more research.  Below, you’ll find an exclusive interview with Greenepeace’s team, and interestingly, I believe they are more organized and sophisticated than the average brand -giving them the opportunity to overwhelm their opposition using their strong supporter base.  Below is my Forbes article, which was originally posted the CMO network (or you can read it on Forbes).  This is a great article for brand managers, PR, agencies, and social media professionals.


Greenpeace Vs. Brands: Social Media Attacks To Continue
Citizen activists increasingly use social networks to bash brands.

By Jeremiah Owyang

Most companies are barely prepared to deal with unhappy customers who use social media to air their gripes. Now they must be ready to respond when organized entities, such as Greenpeace, wage massive campaigns against their brands using social media channels.

Greenpeace and other organizations have a long history of demonstrating in real life against corporations in order to influence their agenda. Yet we’re seeing this cascade online as well as the real world.

In March, Greenpeace launched a viral campaign criticizing Nestle’s use of palm oil from companies that are destroying Indonesian rain forests.  The campaign included a video in which an office worker opened a Kit Kat chocolate bar only to find an orangutan’s finger in the red wrapping and a call to Greenpeace’s Twitter followers to “attack” the Swiss company’s Facebook fan page. Thousands of social media users posted comments criticizing the company’s practices and posted altered logos, like one that replaced “Kit Kat” with “Killer.” Nestle, unprepared for the influx of criticism, said it is now committed to using only “Certified Sustainable Palm Oil” by 2015.

In the wake of BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Greenpeace orchestrated another attack. It challenged the public to design a new BP logo that, according to the organization’s website, is “more suitable for their dirty business.” The competition garnered over 2,000 entries, including a design that suggested BP stands for “black planet” to images of oil coated birds and fish. Greenpeace is leaving the winner up to the public, who can vote for the best logo redesign. In addition, Greenpeace recently released a “ScamWow!” infomercial parody of the “ShamWow!” super towel, targeting BP and other oil companies’ that need a quick-fix solution to their ecological disasters.

Greenpeace has scored some social media successes against brands, thanks to its active supporter base. The organization plans to continue these campaigns, according to Laura Kenyon the online marketing and promotions specialist at Greenpeace International.

Owyang: Your efforts against Nestle and now BP appear coordinated, perhaps even more so than some of today’s modern corporation’s marketing efforts.  You had an existing online community, marketing materials (videos, logos) and a clear call to action” for your supporters that was executed quickly and effectively How were you able to pull this off?

Kenyon: Greenpeace’s online campaigns against Nestlé and BP are some parts coordination, some parts opportunity, and most importantly rely on people’s support. Without individuals commenting and sharing the “‘Have a Break?” video on Facebook and their other social profiles it would never have reached over 1.5 million views or caused such an uproar. Coordination is important but as you can never plan for everything online, we found we also needed to be ready to react quickly as things developed. We could not know that Nestlé would request that YouTube block our video within a few hours of it being uploaded, but when that happened we were able to replace it quickly on Vimeo. The blocking of the video went on to drive views on the video and generated interest that we could never have predicted in the planning of the campaign.

Owyang:  Tell me about your internal structure of your social technology team, how many folks do you have working on this?

Kenyon: We have 28 offices worldwide and people working on the social media aspect of communications in most of these offices, most often in addition to another role. The number of people working in each office varies, but together we have a very effective global team.

Owyang:  How do you work with your community to achieve your objectives?

Kenyon: Greenpeace is its supporter base. Without them we would not be here. Their support for our campaigns and the personal actions they take alongside us are vital to our successes. There is no better example of the importance of engaging and empowering our supporters than the Kit Kat campaign. Our online supporters are a source of encouragement, inspiration, and ideas-and we are always trying to draw on that.

Owyang: How are online movements different from real life ones? Is there a difference between online and in-person protests?

Kenyon: The nature of taking action online versus offline is of course different – but the motivations are the same. Our activists who dropped from the ceiling of Nestlé’s shareholder meeting on April 15th were acting on the same motivation as supporters of the campaign who changed their Facebook profile pictures to our KitKat ‘Killer’ logo or sent an e-mail to Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke – they wanted Nestlé to remove products coming from rainforest destruction from their supply chains. They did not want to buy products that come at the cost of
Indonesian rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands.

Owyang:  Are you concerned about any legal ramifications or lawsuits?

Kenyon: We always seek out legal advice and make sure that we understand any potential consequences before launching a campaign like Kit Kat. Our campaigns are not about breaking laws but about creating laws that protect the environment. Just last week the EU finally created a law to ban illegal timber imports after a decade of activism.

Owyang: How do you measure the effectiveness of your efforts?

Kenyon : Ultimately we measure effectiveness by the achievement of campaign goals. In the case of our Kit Kat campaign Nestlé’s eventual commitment to remove products coming from rainforest destruction from its supply chain is a positive step. Another measure is how many people became engaged with the campaign – the video reached over 1.5 million people, over 300,000 of which directly contacted Nestlé CEO Paul Bulcke via e-mail, and a countless number of people took up the cause on Facebook providing a steady stream of criticism on Nestlé’s infamous Facebook fan page. Many of these were people who were not previously aware of the role of palm oil production in the destruction of Indonesian rainforests, including key orangutan habitat. The increased awareness of this issue is another victory for our Kit Kat campaign.

Owyang:  So you’re calculating ROI by your objectives. In some ways, you’re already ahead of most brands in the social space. Yet you’ve attempted some other social marketing efforts in the past, but none were as successful as the Nestle effort. Was Nestle a stroke of luck for Greenpeace?

Kenyon: Greenpeace has a history of online campaigning to draw on – as far back as 2000 we ran a successful campaign to get Coca-Cola to
remove harmful chemicals from its refrigeration equipment, which also convinced Unilever and McDonald’s to follow suit. A few years ago we also ran a successful online campaign to convince Apple to remove toxic substances from its products. The crucial element in all of our online campaigning has been the support we’ve found amongst the online population – not only our amazing online supporter base but also from people who might not consider themselves “Greenpeace supporters” per se but who share our concerns and take action with us.

There were a lot of factors that contributed to the success of the Kit Kat campaign, but its success wasn’t isolated from our other online campaigning. The online networks used to push the Kit Kat campaign have grown as a result of previous Greenpeace efforts and the Kit Kat campaign was definitely the beneficiary of earlier online efforts. Add to that an unforgettable video, a few Nestle online blunders, and a lot of amazing efforts from supporters of the campaign. People didn’t lose interest or let the issue rest – for weeks and weeks they told Nestle over and over to stop buying products from rainforest destruction. And it didn’t stop until they listened.

Owyang: Speaking of getting brands to listen, one of the tenants of social media is dialogue. Yet on the surface, it appears that you are not interested in a dialogue with the companies in these channels. To what extent is that true?

Kenyon: In Nestlé’s case it was far past the time for action – Greenpeace had already established a dialogue with Nestlé on the issue of its palm oil suppliers years before the Kit Kat campaign kicked off. But they were not taking action to deal with the problem. When the time came, Greenpeace and Nestlé talked directly in order to reach an agreement. Greenpeace engages with companies and governments at key times in all of its campaigns in order to create change.

Owyang: What should we expect in the social technology arena from Greenpeace in the future? Will you increase your usage in this space and, if so, by how much?

Kenyon: Greenpeace will continue to campaign online. How our presence will grow and change will depend on how the online networks and tools available grow and change. Greenpeace aims to be an agent of change. We are interested in enabling others to demand a better world and online social media helps us do that. As an organization, the last year saw us reach 1 million supporters on Facebook alone. This kind of support empowers us, and our hope is to empower those supporters in return to have civil courage and to amplify their voices when they speak out against injustice or for a better world. As we face the greatest threat to our planet, climate change, civil courage and the
online spaces where it is expressed will be crucial.

Greenpeace will maintain a strong presence in social media, using the latest tools and communication channels where it is effective to challenge those who are involved in environmental destruction. It’s impossible to predict exactly where social media is going next so it’s hard to say exactly what you should expect but we will definitely continue to use creative online campaigning tactics to create change.


Also contributing: Charlene Li and Susan Etlinger from Altimeter Group and Victoria Taylor from Forbes.com.

Jeremiah Owyang, a Web strategist, is partner, customer strategy, at Altimeter Group.  We encourage companies to get ready for social media attacks by getting prepared internally first, watch our webinar to learn how.

People on the Move in the Social Business Industry: July 16, 2010

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It’s only been a week but there’s been quite a few changes, so I wanted to post this before the list became too long. Some big moves, esp Frank at Comcast joining Citi and Dell winning community expert Bill Johnston. I’ve been tracking new hires in this space since 2007, see the archives.

potm-banner-2


People on the Move in the Social Business Industry

  • Comcast’s famed community advocate Frank Eliason moves on from Comcast and joins Citi.  Frank has really given a human face and shown good work at Comcast, increasing the trust in the community and truly being a brand ambassador.  I want to congratulate him on his next move, I’ll be looking forward to his continued success.  You can now track Frank at his new twitter handle.
  • Long time community expert Bill Johnston takes a key role at Dell managing many of their community efforts.  He’s an excellent hire, he’s professional, kind towards others, and extremely knowledgeable.   Yes, Dell is getting a Bill.
  • Jevon MacDonald, leaves Dachis Group and starts a new role as Entrepreneur in Residence at Innovacorp today.
  • Ken Brady moves on and tweets that he’s “I’m now at W+K (@WiedenKennedy) in Portland. Digital Strategy, Community Management, Various Geekery.”
  • Michael Fraietta, one of the Fltrbox team which was acquired by Jive Software has decided to move on and tells his story from his blog, see video.
  • Ignace Blanco  joins We Are Social France as Account Director Help with the development of We Are Social in France
  • Valerie Elston joins Porter Novelli as Digital Strategist where she will evangelize digital strategy throughout the agency and client work, as well as help plan our client’s communication programs and infuse smart, creative, and measurable digital components
  • Amber Porter-Cox joins GolinHarris as VP of Interactive Media.  Amber will lead digital strategy and execution for GolinHarris’ Chicago clients and manage the local GH Dialogue team.
  • Doug Regner joins Wildfire as Interactive Sales Manager of new business development with the world’s largest ad agencies and Fortune 1000 marketing departments
  • Nick Ayres joins IHG as Social Marketing Manager Manage social media programs for international hotel family.
  • Tyler Welch joins Ant’s Eye View as Senior Social Business Consultant. Tyler will work alongside Ant’s Eye View’s practitioner team to guide organizations through the process of transforming customer experience and brand engagement by activating and embedding customer voice in key aspects of their business.
  • Ann Johnson joins Cobalt Group as Sr Manager, PR and Social Media Driving Corporate PR and Social Media Programs for The Cobalt Group.
  • John Nugent joins Syncapse Corp as Managing Director, EMEA. In this new role, John is responsible for corporate development, new business development and client services at Syncapse EMEA. He also has a mandate to expand Syncapse’s team of high performance social technology experts at the company’s London office
  • Congrats to Ben Kiker, Jive’s  CMO who’s moved on, he did a fantastic job, we worked together in a vendor/analyst role since his start. Well done Ben, I look forward to hearing about your next adventure.

Submit a new hire

Seeking a job?

  1. See the Web Strategy Job Board, which includes paid submissions from the top brands in the world.
  2. Community Manager jobs by Jake McKee
  3. Social Media Jobs by Chris Heuer
  4. Social Media jobs, filtered by SimplyHired
  5. Social Media Job Network by James Durbin
  6. 25 places to find social media jobs by Deb Ng

Additional Resources

Please congratulate the new hires by leaving a comment below.

Forbes: How To Create A Customer Advocacy Program

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Social media doesn’t scale.  That’s right, social media doesn’t scale.  Consumers will only increase their adoption of social technologies, most social networking data shows this is going ‘up and to the right’.  You can never hire enough community managers to manage your millions of customers that are now using social channels to communicate.  You must have a strategy to scale.

This article, which I originally wrote on my regular column on the Forbes CMO network explains in pragmatic steps what marketing executives must do to develop a scalable program.  I look forward to hearing what you’ve learned below.

How To Create A Customer Advocacy Program
CMOs must tap the voices of their customers.

While marketers traditionally were the direct channel and voice to the customer, creating direct mail, advertising and corporate press releases. CMOs today must develop advocacy programs in order to scale, increase credibility and demonstrate commitment to customers. In doing so, marketers will develop a low-cost trusted unpaid army of customer advocates.

Why an Advocacy Program?
Research by Edelman’s trust barometer indicates that buyers, customers and consumers often will trust each other far more than they’ll trust employees, sales or company. While factual information about product specs, pricing and usage will still be relevant on the corporate website, expect customers to do online research and consider advice from their peers before they make purchasing decisions.

Five Phases of Mature Advocacy Programs
To develop advocacy programs, CMOs must conduct the following five steps:

1.) First, get ready internally. You’ll need to dedicate an internal staff member on a part-time basis to manage this program. Look for folks who have a background in influencer relationships and are savvy about social media–traditional command-and-control techniques need not apply. Develop a plan and educate internal stakeholders. You will need to inform Support, Product, Account Managers, Legal. Next, develop a content plan to constantly fuel the advocates with topics and time with upcoming product releases.

2.) Find the right advocates that will represent your brand. It is important to select the right advocates. First, find them where they already are. Look at top blogs in your industry, the most helpful and knowledgeable community members in the support forums, and those that have dedicated their time to managing Facebook pages, online forums or are active in the ecosystems. Use the following six attributes to gauge if they’ll be successful advocates: 1.) They should have a track record of their contributions and expertise. 2.) They should be respected and have influence in the community. 3.) They must be helpful, passionate, reliable, trustworthy. 4.) They should possess strong communication skills. 5.) They should have existing communication platforms. 6.) They must be committed to the program requirements.

3.) Build a relationship for the long term. Just like courting, in any relationship it is best to start by building trust. Invite your select group of advocates to your headquarters to meet with key product teams, communications and customer-focused executives. Be prepared to listen, and be attentive to their requests. The key is to acknowledge their ideas, without coming across as defensive. After this effort, you’ll have a strong sense of who you’ll want to work with more closely. Wal-Mart  invited top bloggers to its HQ in Bentonville AR, which resulted in an advocacy program called the Elevenmoms. Intel invites its ‘Insiders‘ to social media and digital savvy folks to key events like Intel Developer Forum.

4.) Give them a platform–but do not pay them. The crux of an advocacy program is giving fans a platform for communicating. You’ll want to support their efforts by giving them a publication platform such as a group blog or community, so they can tell their story. Ensure they are properly kept up to date, and that the lines of communications are always open for discussion, even when there is negative content. Enable them with graphical “badges” they can put on their blogs, email signatures, T-shirts, and business cards as they become extended ambassadors to your brand. Microsoft MVP program showcases their advocates, and provides them with a variety of resources to evangelize.

5.) Integrate them into your business and recognize them. It’s key to continue to build on the momentum you’ve established by following the above steps. Next, continue to integrate them into your existing events, product launches and even planning meetings with product teams. Lego invited top advocates for their next-generation mindstorm product, and intertwined customer opinion with the produce team. As a result, a successful product launched, that was quickly sold out. Microsoft ( MSFT – news – people ) has “conference” funds for MVPs who are encouraged to speak at industry related conferences about their passions–further spreading the brand.

These five phases of your program will make you successful. But remember above all, give them recognition and access to special events, review on-brand products, access to important people and information–and do not pay them, or you risk making the relationship a thin transaction. Instead, focus on building a long-term relationship with customer advocates who are an extension of your authentic brand.

That’s my take, after taking briefings and meeting with the folks that have run these programs. Just wanted to share my research over the years in a consolidated pragmatic step-by-step. Please leave your suggestions below, thanks!