The Genius of Fiskateers: Leveraging Social Media to Promote Fiskars

One of the speakers at the BlogOrlando event that I attended this weekend was Geno Church of Brains on Fire. Unfortunately I missed his session when I got confused about the schedule during the event’s craziness, but I’ve had a chance since then to learn more about the background of the Fiskateers program now that I know who conceived it. It’s an interesting – and groundbreaking – story of scrapbook marketing.

What exactly is Fiskateers?

If you aren’t familiar with the Fiskateers program, it is what Fiskars calls a “crafting ambassadors” program. The 5 lead Fiskateers are crafters hired part-time by Fiskars to serve as ambassadors for crafting and thus for Fiskars at the same time. The Fiskateers have their own website, blog and forum, and share their enthusiasm through hosting make-n-takes at events. This program is distinctly separate from the Fiskars design team, which plays a much different role for the company.

Other crafters can join the Fiskateers if they want to by contacting the lead Fiskateers for an invitation. Currently, there are over 5000 Fiskateers members worldwide – a powerful word-of-mouth force for the company.

How did Fiskateers come about?

geno-churchFiskars started the Fiskateers program in early 2006 with the help of South Carolina identity development agency Brains on Fire and specifically Geno Church (pictured left at BlogOrlando courtesy of hyperlinkguerrilla). It was a marketing campaign of a new sort for the scrapbook industry – a word-of-mouth campaign designed to use social media.

The Fiskateers program won an award for Brains On Fire last fall from Forrester Research in their Groundswell Awards, which recognize excellence in social media in marketing. The campaign is widely recognized in the marketing community as a highly successful one for both its thought leadership and its sales impact. And Fiskars did all this with a reported budget of less than $500,000 for the campaign.

So what can other companies learn from the success of Fiskateers?

Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool in the scrapbook industry but few (if any) campaigns had  been conceived at the time to target it in the way that Fiskateers does. And few companies since have taken advantage of social media concepts in the way the program does by actually starting its own social media platform.

Social media is becoming more and more entrenched in our daily lives. With the power of the internet – and social media – to spread it, word-of-mouth is becoming a tool too important to ignore.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to Geno Church tell you himself in this video interview talking about the Fiskateers program. And then, start thinking about how to integrate social media into your marketing plan!

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