Social Media

3 Ways Henry David Thoreau Can Help Target Brand Ambassadors

An unlikely authority on referral marketing, here are 3 ways Henry David Thoreau can help you understand the fans ripe for becoming your brand ambassadors.


“Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

- Henry David Thoreau

Having spent the majority of his life wandering alone in the woods of Massachusetts, Henry David Thoreau is an unlikely authority on social referrals. But in his fortress of solitude the author found some helpful insights into understanding relationships that we can actually apply to better understanding your social media engagement strategy.

So read on for the 3 ways Henry David Thoreau can help understand the fans ripe for becoming brand ambassadors.

1. Learn what questions your customers are asking

“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

High quality question and answer (Q&A) sites like LinkedIn Answers and Quora are growing as go-to resources for users with specific, niche-focused questions.

Listening to what your customers are asking online can not only allow you to support existing customers and establish yourself as a thought leader, but also find new customers who may have a problem that only your product can solve.

Ultimately, your activity on Q&A networks can help better focus your business’ product and glean insights into the needs/problems of potential brand ambassadors. You’ll also have the opportunity to establish yourself as an industry expert, building trust-based relationships that bring leads closer to purchasing your product.

So read the best questions your customers are asking, or you might not be able to read them at all.

2. Learn what content your customers are sharing

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

Thoreau had a lot of alone time to consider peer-to-peer relationships. So much time that he apparently spent some of it watching ants.

But again, Thoreau’s insight can be mined for a better understanding of your brand ambassadors.

A critical component of a social referral program is ensuring that your content is shared regularly throughout your network. Your social fans are clearly busy on social media sites, but it’s important to understand what they are actually busy about. Otherwise you’ll potentially be posting content that isn’t very useful to your customers on a social network they don’t use.

Are your customers sharing humorous content via Twitter? Or how-to resources on Facebook? By learning what type of content your customers are sharing, you’ll be able to understand the tone, type, and tenor of your social network. As a result, your content will be valuable, easy to find and likely to be shared.

3. Interact regularly with your fans

“Be true to your work, your word and your friend.”

Social media provides businesses with an exciting batch of social marketing tools, one of which being the ability to interact directly with fans.

Never guess or assume to know your fans or you’ll find yourself marketing towards the wrong population. Instead, get active on group discussions to better communicate your brand’s strengths in a targeted way. Being true to yourself and your fans will help determine how you attracted your best brand advocates in the first place and how to start attracting others with similar profiles.

By tapping into the abundance of free information about your fans you can learn where your customers are most active, what questions they are asking, what they are sharing, and ultimately how to best leverage their interest to generate social referrals.

Like Thoreau said, “What is once well done is done forever.” So take advantage of social media to better understand how to target brand advocates and run the most successful peer-to-peer referral program on the web. Or at least better than Thoreau’s, who wasn’t able to get many fans on board while sitting in the woods all day. What a surprise.

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