How to Get Your Customers to Advertise for You

Steam Whistle’s Kendra Nicholson on how a brand can leverage fan support to its advantage

Written by Sarah Niedoba

While Steam Whistle Brewing certainly isn’t Canada’s largest beer company, it might be the one with the most dedicated fan base. Just ask Kendra Nicholson, the brand’s Community Manager or “Fairy Beer Mother.”

Nicholson is in charge of managing the company’s “brand advocates”—diehard fans who love the beer so much, they create knick-knackscuisine, and even entire Facebook pages to show their appreciation.

It’s Nicholson’s job to make sure each and every one of these customers feels heard and attended to—and to channel their dedication into the kind of marketing money can’t buy. In a recent interview with Canadian Business, Nicholson used one of the company’s biggest brand advocates, Chuck, as an example. “Chuck defends our brand online, provides feedback and converts other fans into advocates. He’s taken it upon himself to create a highly engaged community of Steam Whistle collectors,” she explains. Fans can buy, trade and share Steam Whistle-branded merchandise on The Steam Whistle Retro Opener page, which was set up in 2012. “Chuck created this page with our blessing but it’s important to note this is their community, not ours.”

Nicholson says when it comes to leveraging fan support for marketing gold, it’s important to take a step back. “If we were to pop in occasionally with a marketing message it would be the equivalent of a parent crashing a slumber party,” she explains. “The holy grail of online relationship building is when you aren’t needed to keep the conversation going. When you have a captive audience participating in a topic they care about, take a step back and listen to what your fans are telling you.”

For more insights from Steam Whistle’s Kendra Nicholson, including tips on how to avoid “endorsment fatigue,” read the complete interview here. 


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