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11/02/2009 by

Netlog: How To Create Brand Ambassadors?

Yesterday, Steven Kraal, business developer at Netlog, held an interesting presentation about brand ambassadors on social networks in Felix Meritis, in Amsterdam.

Steven Kraal, business developer at Netlog

Steven Kraal, business developer at Netlog (photo by annejan88)

Netlog is a social network founded 10 years ago in Belgium by Lorenz Bogaert and Toon Coppens. It started as a small webpage ASL.TO with personal information and grew to the biggest social network in Europe without any marketing spending.

Netlog has 40 million active members in 30+ European countries and 28 languages. The company has 80 employees and is headquartered in Ghent, Belgium. Netlog’s target group is youngsters between 14 and 24. Two years ago the company was known as Facebox, Redbox, Coolbox, Bingbox, Xobox and Gentebox. Today all these brands have merged into Netlog.

According to Comscore/eMarketer over 500 million monthly unique visitors engage in social networks globally, which grows annualy with 32%. Youngsters between 13-24 are real social media junkies! They spend over 50% of their online time on social media sites and generate the most user-generated content of all ages.

In his presentation Steven told the crowd there’s a relationship between age and success in a country. If a great number of new users is younger than 25 years old, success will follow. Netlog’s 10 most successfull languages are English, Arabic, Dutch, Turkish, Romanian, Slovenian, Italian, French, Romanian and German (in random order). In Lithuania and Poland Netlog has an older userbase and the Belgian social network struggles to succeed in these countries.

In December 2008 Netlog asked Belgian youngsters (13-25 years) in a poll “What is more important?” Many friends, real friends, “cool” visitors of visits of friends? 44% replied many friends (popularity). 27% of the Netlog users prefer real friends (authenticity). “Cool” visitors (belonging) and visits of friends (engagement) is considered less important. So it’s all about popularity in the end. And aren’t you so popular? No problem! You can buy credits to get in the spotlight and grab your 15 seconds of fame on the front page. This generates 10% of Netlog total turnover.


A great number of brands are active on Netlog, such as Puma, Adidas, Disney and Coca-Cola. These companies have created brand ambassadors and fans successfully, according to the 5 C’s: Conversate, Continuous, Context, Contribute and Content.

  • Content. Brands need to give users useful information, things to share like applications, video’s or discounts.
  • Conversate. When a brand creates a brandprofile where people can interact with the product and each other, it’s important to know what they are talking about and more importantly brands need to talk back! It creates a strong brand value, if a particular question gets answered, when someone is not sure about the product and has a question. An example is Nokia Supernova. When Nokia launched their product page on Netlog, a person was always ready to answer questions. People dared to ask questions and they got an answer within hours. More than 40,000 users visited the Supernova brand page and more than 23,000 immediately became a friend of the page
  • Continuous. To fulfill these needs a brand has got to be online 24/7. The target group is active all the time, so the brand needs to be too.
  • Context. “The brand value is not what a product says about the brand, it’s what one friend says to another about the brand.” They need to make fans and create a place where they can interact and share information. The fans of brands need to be the first to know about new video’s, applications and products. That’s what makes them feel committed to the brand. They need to give the fans content to talk about and willing to share.

    For example, the Bob campaign, a campaign that aims to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while intoxicated. They created a brand page where people could search for a Bob or present themselves as Bob.

  • Contribute. Brands need to share content, user generated content. They need to give users the possibility to input their ideas and feedback on products. Also let them share your content on their own page and with friends.

In the presentation Steven gave two examples of successful campaigns on Netlog. The first was the Heineken responsible drinking campaign, entitled Know The Signs. A campaign aimed at creating greater self-awareness amongst Heineken drinkers. The target countries on Netlog were The Netherlands, US, Chili, Argentina, Romania, Dubai, Italy and Switzerland. A brand page and widget was created, with five embarrassing characters, The Crier, The Fighter, The Sleeper, The Exhibitionist and The Groper. You could match each of your friends with one of these embarrassing characters.

The page got 200,000 visitors, 10,000 members linked a character to a friend and 44,000 members copied the background to their own personal page. So you can say it’s a success thanks to the social community.

Steven concluded his presentation with his second example: NikeID. Netlog and Nike teamed up for a unique boot design competition. Red Devil fans of Vincent Kompany were given the opportunity to create a personalized soccer shoe for the player on and until February 13, 2009. Vincent Kompany, who also plays as a defensive midfielder for English Premier League club Manchester City F.C., will pick the best project himself and play with the winning shoes in the match against Bosnia Herzegovina on March 28th, 2009. Afterwards Vincent will sign the shoes and offer them to the winner. Within three days Nike received 1,550 designs and got 10,000 visitors on the brand page.

Steven Kraal did a bit of ViralBlog promotion for the audience, my fellow colleague and blogger Niels Bellaar noticed Steven had this ViralBlog article open in another tab. 😀


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