Archive for April, 2009

Street Teams and Word of Mouth

Friday, April 10th, 2009

For a number of years bands have been using the web to create ’street-teams’ – exclusive groups that turn fans into promoters. In exchange for spreading the word about the band, fans in ’street-teams’ would get early notice about ticket sales, discounts on merchandise and other bonuses.

This might seem irrelevant to the usual scope of this blog, but I think the ’street-team’ concept can be powerfully adapted to building your own audience in areas far outside the music industry. By giving your biggest fans the tools to spread the word about you and rewarding them for doing so, you can create a powerful grassroots promotional machine for your work.

Though you could call this group whatever you wanted, I’ll continue to call it a ’street-team’ throughout this post.

Here are some of the ways a street-team could help you:

  • Re-tweeting messages, or tweeting about topics you’d like them to share with their followers. Including you in #followfridays.
  • Writing messages to people en masse in order to influence them in your favor (for example, emailing a blogger after you’ve guest-posted to say how much they enjoyed it, and how much they’d love for you to write again!)
  • Referring real-life friends to your blog or podcast.
  • Taking part in a meme you’ve created.
  • Voting for your stuff on social media.
  • Regularly leaving comments on your writing/videos.
  • Adding your badge or button to their own site.
  • Giving you testimonials.
  • Linking to you.
  • Taking polls and answering questions to give you valuable feedback and data.

The options stretch much broader than these and new ones will arise depending on the circumstances. You might at first wonder why any person would help you in this way, but you might also find that some of your fans are already doing many of these things. If you’re not quite there yet, think about the people you already do this for. If you could help someone else in this way, there’s no reason someone couldn’t feel the same way about you.

The street-team system is different from one-sided word of mouth because you offer people a genuine incentive to do these things. This might involve creating a newsletter or a members area on your site that only street-team members have access to. Most street-teams for bands are also limited to a certain number of members so that those people who are accepted feel part of an exclusive group. You could cap membership at 1,000, or 100 – whatever suits the size of your audience. 10% of your subscriber count might be a good guide.

As you give street-team members suggested ways to spread the word, you could offer them the following in return:

  • Bonus content via a ’street-team’ newsletter.
  • Discounts on your products, or free products.
  • An exclusive forum where you interact with members one-on-one.
  • Competitions and giveaways.
  • Reciprocal promotion.
  • Free mini-reports or eBooks.
  • Membership to a special affiliate program with higher commissions.
  • Access to a protected Twitter account with tweets and links just for street-team members.

You might also have a few ideas specific to your niche, as well.

I feel that one area few start-ups, bloggers, creatives and businesspeople are skilled in is successfully leveraging the passion and enthusiasm of our biggest fans. I can think of a number of websites, services and projects I would be happy to promote in exchange for freebies and discounts. It would also be a good opportunity to meet other people who are as passionate as I am and feel part of an exclusive community. I haven’t yet been given the chance, but if this idea gains traction, that might begin to change.

It’s extremely easy to create a newsletter with a limited number of sign-ups – try AWeber.

A little homework, if you’d like to try it:

  • Think about how you would most like your biggest fans to spread the word about you.
  • Think about what you could offer them in return.

Good luck!