What if your business had thousands of brand evangelists who live and die by every move you make? People who create fan pages, hold meetups, and forge friendships over you. People who will stand in line for hours for your latest product. People who will dissect, forecast around, argue about, and second guess the smallest decisions.

This is a good problem to have. Ask Apple. Ask Disney. Ask The Rolling Stones.

The best brand communities start organically.

Coca-Cola’s first Facebook page was built by two fans. The company was smart enough to work with them–rather than take it over from them.

Cultivating brand fans is a mindset.

Washington Nationals bobbleheads

For the Washington Nationals, my local MLB team, this mindset is a work in progress. For example, the marketing department just held a special fan event, at Nationals Park, in the clubhouse (locker room?) for… 26 people who talk about the team on Twitter. (Yes, there are more than 26 fans. There are even more than 26 rabid fans who talk about the team all the time on Twitter.) What’s particularly ironic about this is that the team’s Twitter feed doesn’t even talk to people.

The excuse for picking just the chosen few is that the venue wouldn’t hold more people.

Predictably, this didn’t sit so well with a lot — A LOT — of people.

What if instead of holding a tiny party in an ill-conceived attempt to build preseason buzz the organization had:

  • Broadcast their little gathering live online (Meerkat anyone?)
  • Organized a Facebook Q&A with 1-2 players?
  • Hosted a tweet-up at a local hotel?
  • Held a pep rally in the stands (seating 42,000+)?
  • Created an online event using Google Hangouts, Go To Webinar, or a similar platform?

I’ll be talking on April 24 about how to build sustainable communities, and the mindset your business needs to have to do this stuff right.

April 24 is for the brand builders. Today, though, is for the brand fans.

It’s Opening Day 2015, and I’m off to bow at the altar of the baseball gods.