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How Threadless, Home Depot, and AmEx get groups of fans talking

This is a post from our WordofMouth.org project. Check it out for more great word of mouth marketing tips like this every day.

Everyone loves being a part of a group. When people who share a common interest also share a common goal or excitement, the emotional connection is amplified — and so is the word of mouth.

If you can bring your fans together to create a community, you can fuel the passion they already have for your stuff and start tons of great conversations. Here are some ways to do it:

1. Give them goals
2. Give them an education
3. Give them recognition

1. Give them goals

When people work together for a shared purpose, they encourage one another, they recruit other people to help, and they spread word of mouth. For their Community Appreciation Jubilation, Threadless offered a limited edition t-shirt to everyone who participated in helping them reach a specific goal. For every submitted design, design score, new discussion thread, and comment, their fans could earn points as a group to meet their objective. Thousands took part and many were encouraged to engage for the first time, reenergizing the Threadless community.

2. Give them an education

The more people know about your stuff, the more likely they are to talk about it. That word of mouth is boosted when you get groups of people to learn together. Home Depot does this with DIY workshops every weekend specifically tailored to parents and kids. Home Depot’s experts give instructions, kids build birdhouse-like projects, and they take home their own Home Depot apron. Now people with a common interest have a great reason to feel like a part of Home Depot’s community — and a great reason to talk about their service and their stuff.

3. Give them recognition

Sometimes all it takes to get people talking about your stuff is to point out your fans to the world and to one another. Some people do this with bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats. American Express sets up lounges in airports, malls, and convention centers where their members can relax. It’s a membership benefit that everyone can see and a way for AmEx members to run into one another — a great conversation starter for both members and non-members.

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