Radio stations have long used “street teams” of interns or volunteers to post flyers, stuff mailboxes and raise buzz about upcoming events and new artists. You can create your own street team and leverage the social media power of your most avid online friends and followers by offering them the opportunity to promote a cause or product they believe in.
This works especially well for products that have a highly targeted niche audience, passionate users and a sense of mission. For example, authors and bands often recruit street teams to help spread the word about a new book or CD. Nonprofits and cause-related organizations frequently recruit street teams in the context of grassroots-level fundraisers, whether they are 5K races, cookie sales or jump rope marathons.
Street team success requires you to have a highly developed knowledge of your core audience and most devoted fans, and to know what motivates them. Meaningful motivation can be surprisingly inexpensive, and can include recognition, coupons, t-shirts, photos posted online, or the ability to contribute content or input. Authors have sometimes rewarded dedicated street team members by using their name for a character in an upcoming book. Bands give away t-shirts and CDs, or special song or video downloads.
Street teams can be especially effective when their members have credibility within an audience that may be distrustful of traditional advertising or are too small to reach effectively through normal advertising channels. The effectiveness of the street team lies in its members being bona fide members of the target audience or having credibility within the audience as informal leaders and trendsetters. For example, a company selling to college students could recruit street teams who would be able to pass out coupons and promotional items on campus and in dormitories, where traditional advertising might not penetrate. Jewelers or clothing manufacturers who sell to an ethnic minority or recent immigrant audience could leverage the credibility of street team members within a difficult-to-reach audience where relationships and word of mouth have high value.
Social media becomes a key component in keeping touch with your street team members and recruiting new members. It’s important to remember that street teamers only participate for as long as being part of the team is fun and personally rewarding. Turnover is high, and street teams should be handled gently to avoid burnout. Always remember that they are doing you a huge favor by passing along your information for free, and treat them graciously. Be lavish with praise, recognition and whatever freebies you can offer. Make it fun and easy for them to share your message without compromising their credibility or integrity.
With today’s growing variety of social media choices, your sales promotion possibilities are limited only by your imagination. When you involve customers in creating the promotion, they’re eager to pass it along to their friends.