Dan Greenfield, blogger for Bernaise Source, offers some insight into tapping volunteer customer advocates:
On the marketing side, organizations like the Word of Mouth Marketing Association and companies like BzzAgent have emerged to help businesses find these pitchmen and pitchwomen. These volunteers are tapped to promote new products through their network of family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. They are upfront about their affiliation, honest about their opinions and devoted to their products. Companies get loyal customers and genuine advocates, and customers get a sense of accomplishment.Who's in your corner?
The same spirit that drives individuals to spread the word also motivates others to contribute to company sponsored social networks.
Lithium for example builds and manages customer support forums for some very large companies like AT&T and Dell. Through experience, they have developed a set of profiles or personas that show how a new community member becomes a regular, established contributor. A successful community needs a large numbers of contributors at different levels to be self-sustaining.
(Blog Referral image by Esparta)