Chloe is part of Lenovo’s communications team. Her mission is to identify fans of the brand and create engaging programmes which brings Lenovo closer to this highly motivated and engaged group of people. She also runs Lenovo’s internal social advocacy programmes, training employees around the region on how they can build their eminence across the various social platforms.
Why did you decide to work with influencers?
We know that buyers trust brand recommendations, or credible information about a company, from “people like me”. So, these every-day brand advocates are a powerful part of our marketing strategy. They are customers, employees, superfans, partners, suppliers, basically those willing to vouch for our brand and our company. Fostering relationships with our customers to nurture them into advocates and fans reaffirms credibility and our brand message. Advocates are more authentic and the content that can come from these partnerships is amazing. They may not have the biggest audience on social media, but they talk and their networks listen. Their engagement rate is high and their followers are real people too. So giving them brand experiences and building these relationships really opens up so many opportunities for them to tell our story in their own words. Just to add clarity here, we’re not looking at celebrities, at Lenovo we’re focused on driving authentic, long term relationships with interesting people who are aligned to our brand attitude.
Tell us a bit about your program
Our overall aim is to empower both internal and external Lenovo advocates to represent our brand through social media, using their own voice and their individuality. So to enable this externally, I launched the first brand advocacy program in Lenovo EMEA; an exclusive online platform called Lenovo Champions, catered to growing a community of Lenovo fans, providing them with curated content and unique opportunities. Through targeted campaigns we’ve nurtured a very passionate collective of individuals from different walks of life who connect with one another through their love of technology. They’re artists, food bloggers, AI and ThinkPad enthusiasts, photographers, and the occasional gamer as well. And they all use tech to enable their passions. We bring them closer to our people through video webinars with our executives and our product teams, closer to our ideas through co-creation, and closer to our brand by hosting them in person with dedicated experiential programs at global events.
Then internally our employees play a very important role in representing the brand. We have a great focus on employee advocacy at Lenovo and upskilling our people to confidently and independently use social media to credibly endorse the company.
Which activities you currently partnering with influences on?
In terms of the brand advocates that we work with, we have an always-on relationship with them in Lenovo EMEA. We engage with our brand advocates almost daily on our platform and involve them wherever possible in local events. We collaborate with different types of influencer based on their passion points, the individual campaigns we’re running and the audience we’re trying to reach. At a global level, in line with our vision to democratize IT and create a digital future that is inclusive of everyone, we’re currently partnering with influencers such as Haben Girma, the first deafblind graduate of Harvard Law School and advocate for people with disabilities. As our accessibility and inclusion advisor, Haben is an external consultant working with us to help us develop more accessible, smarter technology products for all. She actually visited the UK a few months ago to talk at disability event hosted by Google alongside our chief digital officer Paul Walsh.
What value do you feel the influences have brought to you as a brand?
Authenticity and credibility. They stand apart as trusted subject matter experts, and they can also advise and guide our decision making and our future direction. Once upon a time marketing used to be in control, you crafted your story on your company, your brand and your products and you went out to your audience… but now the audience wants to be a part of crafting that story, so we need to make it relevant for them, because the brand is now what consumers tell each other it is.
What business outcomes are Lenovo seeking to achieve by working with influencers?
We’re looking to elevate our brand through believable advocacy. It’s more cost effective for us as a business, and our messages come across more efficiently. This is also very much in line with our overall business strategy which is to become a completely customer centric company. Working with brand advocates is a way to engage our customers and put them first. We also want to drive loyalty, which comes back to trust as I mentioned earlier. Potential buyers are more likely to convert based on the recommendation and opinion of other people like themselves. Those people sitting on the fence and in between choosing a brand can be tipped over to one brand or the other by advocates.
What metrics do you use to measure success?
As a company we measure brand consideration and preference – our brand advocacy campaigns help drive consideration and awareness. We track social sentiment and mentions to understand how frequently and positively our advocates are talking about us.
What are the most common challenges you have faced?
On challenge is how to scale. Keeping our approach authentic is very manual, we’re identifying advocates almost one by one. We face the challenge of needing to grow the community on scale but without losing the authenticity or the human relationship. Another is that although the benefits of influencer marketing and brand advocacy are blindingly clear, proving return on investment and effectiveness is still a big challenge to us as a team. And then finally, I’d say resource. Whilst our vision to build an army of advocates is firmly believed in internally, it does require time and investment to do it properly. With the influencer industry so saturated, identifying and recruiting authentic fans and advocates will always be a long-term commitment and a gradual development.
If there was 1 piece of advice you would give to influencer marketing practitioners what would it be?
Be brave and decisive. In order to cut through the noise, you need to stand out. From the moment you reach out to your hand selected targets and engage them for the first time, to the content you create with them. Stay true to yourself and your brand vision but be prepared to evolve.