[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

The entry deadline for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards is just one week away – August 30, 2013. These awards recognize programs that showcase the effective use of social media to advance an organizational goal. We've got new categories this year – check out our video for details – and over the past week, my colleagues have given their advice on how to win an award for 'social reach' and for 'social depth.' Today, I want to give some tips on how to win an award in our 'social relationship' category.

As a reminder, the 'social relationship' category is for companies who used social media to engage customers after the point of purchase – usually, to increase the loyalty and lifetime value of those customers. This most commonly occurs on public social networks like Facebook and Twitter. So if your program was designed to create repeat business from existing customers, it was probably an example of social relationship marketing. Likewise, if you focused your efforts on branded Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, Pinterest pinboards or LinkedIn groups, it also probably fits into this category.

One of my favorite examples of social relationship marketing is a 2011 Forrester Groundswell Award winner from Brazil called 'Come Back Ferrorama.' The toy company Estrela found the most passionate fans of Ferrorama (a discontinued toy train) on Orkut (which was then Brazil's largest social network) and gave them a challenge: To prove their dedication by running the miniature toy train on a 20km journey, using and reusing the same 120 meters of track, and never stopping. Estrela engaged these fans through branded pages on several key social networks, and the project built even greater loyalty among those who'd loved the toy as children. When Estrela eventually relaunched Ferrorama, these fans bought in force: The toy sold out within a month.

Come Back Ferrorama

The Come Back Ferrorama entry contains lots of elements that I'll be looking for when we review the 2013 social relationship entries:

  1. It was focused on existing fans. Estrela wasn't concerned about building up a huge fan base on social networks – or with reaching people who weren't already connected with its product. It realized that branded profiles on public social networks are best suited to building stronger relationships with existing fans. The Come Back Ferrorama project did just that; in fact, the project began when the company president created a video targeted specifically to those established fans.
  2. It drove increased lifetime value from those existing customers. Estrela showed us how its program helped previous customers discover that the product was being re-released, and then created incremental sales from that audience. To win a Forrester Groundswell Award you need to provide proof of success – and Estrela showed us that this project drove exactly the results it was looking for.
  3. It amplified interactions with its biggest fans into other parts of the marketing RaDaR. The focus of this effort was engaging established fans – but Estrela smartly realized it could leverage those fans' passion to reach a bigger audience. By promoting the Come Back Ferrorama project to bloggers and the media, Estrela gained a valuable secondary benefit: Broad reach.

We'd love to see an award winner from your company — be it in social reach, social depth, social relationship, or one of our other categories. But you have to enter by August 30. We look forward to seeing your best work, and hopefully recognizing it with a 2013 Forrester Groundswell Award.