For those who haven’t read the earlier posts here are the four parts of any social marketing campaign.
- Reach out to an existing community.
- Create your own community.
- Accelerate your message using sharing tools.
- Market research.
In the last post we talked about the first part of our social marketing framework. Now we are going to talk about part two – creating your own community.
The first thing I want to talk about is creation of a community; you can’t just create your own community. Communities take time to form and when we try to build a place on the web and then expect all our community members to show up, we usually come up empty. All companies already have the building blocks for a community in their customers. You may have an email database. You may have a user group. You may have an advisory board. You may have a number of prospects that are thinking of using your product and are in the sales process. All of these people are potential community members with the word potential being the key term.
In addition there are probably a number of already existing communities in your industry that may not be yours but still have a number of potential community members. If you look at the first part of our framework, we talk about reaching out to existing communities. The people in these communities can become part of your community if you use the right tactics and build real relationships with them.
So what is the approach to building your own community. Here is an approach which we call the “social bridge.” A social bridge is when you take someone, provide them with a high piece of value and have them interact with the value in your community. The result is a new community member.
- First, identify customers, influencers and prospects that already know you well and that you can access.
- Then identify all the existing communities and the different access points you can use to reach them.
- Create a compelling piece of value for the community. This step is the hardest but also the one that determines success and failure. Do not sell to them. Examples of value may be free tools, content if it is really good, access to experts that are your friends (or on your payroll – did I just say that). The key is the value has to be there.
- Build a place on the web where community activity takes place and provide accessibility to this value. Don’t send just an email, have the content on your product feedback portal and have people interact with it there and then let the community add to it.
- Once users have interacted with your value in your social space, reach out and build a real relationship with them. Do this slowly and bring more value to the table over time. Grow their engagement.
What many of us missed in the early days of community speak is that the tools that allow a community to form are not the reason they form. Being able to chat, share, tweet and comment are just things you can do. And yes, your community space has to offer that type of interaction. But that is not why people come. They are there for the value proposition.
So in the end if you want to execute on part two of our model, identify your existing circle of potential community members and also find the already existing communities in your industry. Reach out to them with real value and have them interact with that value in a “socially powered” place. Then build on that interaction slowly and build a real relationship. When they are ready to buy they will do so.