coffee-circle-white-bkgrnd-200Shannon is Mention’s Content & PR Manager, where she crafts words, creates strategies, and recruits loyal advocates. She’s based in New York. Get in touch with her at @ShannnonB.

Groove recently published an excellent article on how to capture genuine and effective testimonials from customers. This got us thinking about the different types of customers and how communication preferences may differ from person to person. The results were this mini-guide for building relationships and rapport with five types of potential brand ambassadors.

1. The Super Fan

brand ambassadorsMuch like a superhero, this person makes you feel safe about the viability of your product, and generally happy about the customer’s experience. They love your product and will tell the world. They mention your company 2-5+ times a week on social media and they use their referral link like it’s their job. Why? Because your product is an essential part of their life and work.

How to find them: It’s not difficult to find Super Fans. They’re likely using your Twitter handle or reaching out directly. If they’re not, or if they’re using your website’s URL to refer friends directly (like the superheroes they are!), be sure to monitor all mentions of your brand name across the web and social, with and without your brand’s handle.

What you need to know: Learn the most possible about how this person uses your product and interacts with your brand. Know their industry, role within their company, and in what capacity they use your product.

How you should reach out: Really, however you want. This person will likely be happy to hear from you. Express your gratitude for their support when reaching out before making your ask.

The ask: A good starting point when building a relationship with a current customer is to ask for feedback on the product and their experience. You’re not only gaining valuable information, but also building a rapport. Depending on their response, you’ll likely be able to pull a few quotes out as a genuine testimonial for your website. If they have a really interesting use case, you can even ask them to conduct an interview with you for a full-length blog post; we did this with General Assembly and Workable. You might even ask them in the future if they would be a reference for you when trying to close a big sale.

2. The Slightly Uncertain

brand ambassadorsThis person is intrigued, but not 100% sure how your product benefits their business. Or they’re impressed, but have to prove its value to management. They have reached out to you with questions; they want to be on your side, but need a little extra help getting there. This type of potential brand ambassador is common when your product is slightly complicated or pricier than others.

How to find them: This person either reached out directly to you with questions, or they’re asking their personal networks about their experiences with your product before trying it out. If you’re monitoring your brand name, you’ll catch these references.

What you need to know: The first thing to determine about the Slightly Uncertain is what problem they’re trying to solve, or need they’re looking to fill. From there, you can determine if your product is a good fit for them. You can also share best practices that will help solve their problem or fill their need.

How you should reach out: Be careful not to come off too strong with the Slightly Uncertain. If this person reached out directly or used your Twitter handle, they’re expecting to hear from you. If you discovered their query via media monitoring, reach out, but with tact. Let them know you’re there to answer any questions. If they’ve already asked something specific, give them the answer and make yourself available to talk. In all likelihood, they will still want external opinions from people they already trust, but will be open to hearing what you have to say. Have case studies ready to present.

The Ask: The first ask should be what it is they’re looking to accomplish and how you can help them. After educating them on how your product can solve their problem, the second ask is for feedback. Depending on the sentiment of the feedback, the next ask is to use the feedback for a testimonial. If the relationship continues to develop, they might even evolve into a Super Fan, providing you with a success story to share with your team!

3. The Influencer

brand ambassadorsThis person is a thought leader, someone with industry influence who people listen to. If you have an Influencer talking about your product in a positive way, you’re in luck. Rather than blind endorsements, an Influencer shares use cases and best practices, which are even better.

How to find them: Because the Influencer may not always mention you directly (their goal is to provide value to their audience, after all), it’s best to be monitoring all mentions of your brand or product name. It shouldn’t be difficult to find them, as conversations around Influencers tend to bubble up above the rest, due to volume of interactions.

What you need to know: Although Influencers will appreciate you reaching out and thanking them for their support, remember that they’re busy people and that their time is precious. Reach out, but be respectful of their time. If you’re going to make an ask, make it direct and make it worth their while.

How you should reach out: Approach an Influencer through the channel they mentioned you on — whether it’s a tweet, comment on their blog, via email, etc.

The ask: Of course you want to feature an Influencer prominently on your site or blog. Start with a small ask: If you can use their headshot, photo, or a quote from something they’ve said or written about your company. Have it drafted and send to them for approval. From there, you can test the waters and ask them for a longer testimonial, or even a guest post. We like to ask our influencial brand ambassadors for an interview via Skype, as it is the quickest solution for maximum gains.

4. The Silent Power User

brand ambassadorsNot all of your frequent users are going to talk about you online. Your most active customer may never mention you once, and there’s probably a reason for that. These people rather not be featured on your blog or website, and probably won’t tweet about you. However, they’d likely be happy to provide feedback that will help you improve their experience.

How to find them: You’re going to need to tap into your database or CMS to find these folks.

What you need to know: This person’s feedback is invaluable, as they value your product and use it frequently. It’s important to approach them with tact.

How you should reach out: Communicate that your intention is to add value to the Silent Power User, and make sure that’s true. With this person, your best vehicle is likely an in-app message or email.

The ask: You should only ask the Silent Power User for feedback, and don’t be afraid to ask them for details. If you’re lucky, they may appreciate your interest in their insights so much that they share their positive experience with their networks.

5. The Quiet Giant

brand ambassadorsIf you have corporations with their entire marketing (or sales, or support) department using your product, congrats! However, chances of them tweeting about it are slim to none. Many larger companies are protective of the tools they use to help them gain a competitive advantage. That doesn’t mean they won’t share their secrets in one-to-one conversations. And if they’re happy with it, employees are likely to suggest your product at future companies.

How to spot them: You’ll have to use your database for this one.

What you need to know: These people aren’t expecting to hear from you unless they reached out directly. Be helpful, friendly, and ready to answer any questions they may have not found the time to ask if you hadn’t reached out. We’ve found this to be a common thread among Quiet Giants — the have questions, but no time to reach out.

How you should reach out: Send a personal, direct email to the person on your team who uses the product the most.

The ask: Start by asking for feedback and how they’re enjoying their experience. See where the conversation goes. After building a relationship, you may be able to ask for a logo or testimonial.

Wrapping it up

As with most things community, content, or customer experience-related, you may be noticing a pattern: it’s all about the relationships you build. Get to know your customers by listening to them and asking the right questions. It is from there, you can build a relationship, understand where they fit into your product offering, and how you can best demonstrate value to them and others that fit a similar persona.

Have you spotted any of these brand ambassadors? What was your experience like? Share your story in the comments!

Shannon Byrne is the Content & PR Manager at Mention where she crafts words, creates strategies, and recruits loyal advocates. She’s based in New York. Get in touch with her at @ShannnonB.

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