Social media is providing a major opportunity for businesses, allowing them to interact with their customers over these popular channels. Forward-thinking organizations are also using social media to cast a wider net and apart from reaching their customers, also interact with their clients' social contacts.

In order to successfully do this, business leaders are looking for innovative ways to encourage their customers and followers to become advocates for the brand by passing on the message to their own connections and increasing the reach of their organizations to individuals who might otherwise have not been exposed to that information.

Organizations which already have a fanbase have a ready-built audience which they can tap into and share information about the company over social channels. The Baltimore Ravens recognized this opportunity and are always looking for ways to engage its fans and encourage them to share content with their contacts.


While the Baltimore Ravens have been active in engaging fans over Facebook and Twitter, the team's leadership wanted to find ways to step up its efforts. "Our fans are always looking for ways to engage with us and it was a no-brainer to enlist their help to share our content," says Michelle Andres, the team's vice president for digital media.

In September 2011, the Baltimore Ravens implemented a tool by SocialToaster to encourage their brand ambassadors to share content with their social connections and increase engagement across the board. The tool allows the team's participating fans to select which content types they want to share and then earn points for participating in the program, allowing them to win prizes like Baltimore Ravens merchandise.

Andres notes that this strategy makes a lot of sense for organizations like the Baltimore Ravens, which has an existing fanbase of individuals who are keen to share content with their friends. The team included a simple way for fans to become RavensReps by connecting through their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace accounts. Andres explains that those who sign up will receive an email asking them what types of information they want to share over social channels.


Enlisting the help of its biggest fans has worked in favor of the football team, which is reaching out to a greater number of people than if it only communicated content to its existing fans. Andres notes that some content was more successful than others, adding that fans are very interested in items like the release of the schedule or the signing of a new player.

Andres explains that the team's leadership is paying attention to the success levels of different pieces of content, allowing it to invest in what's most popular. Further, Andres says the team is paying a lot of attention to how posts are worded since they appear on fans' feeds and need to look as if they're coming from the team.

The response from fans has also been deemed positive, with close to 9,000 ambassadors signing up to become RavensReps. Andres says the program has gone down well with the group's ambassadors who are able to win prizes, among them an official Ravens' leather jacket.

"We want to give our fans the opportunity to have a voice and share their views," Andres notes. She adds that since the Baltimore Ravens don't sell tickets, this is an easy way for fans to voice their enthusiasm for the team.

Lessons Learned

Leverage social media: Savvy organizations are using social channels to interact with their customers and prospects.

Engage fans: Organizations have the opportunity to turn customers into brand ambassadors and reach a bigger audience.

Give something back: Organizations should try to give value to their customers, especially ones that are brand ambassadors.