At the 2011 Search and Social Hawaii! conference local Hawaiian L.P. Neenz Faleafine talked about her “ALIVE” system when building on online community. It’s a system we have adopted here at Search and Social Marketing, but never quite put into words, or a defined strategic structure. So I thought I would share Neenz’s approach to give you an idea of how we approached the Wappow! community.
- Assess Before starting any social media community building campaign you want to sit back and look at what has already been built in regards to the company (or product). At times brand evangelists will already create a Facebook or Google+ Page, a Group, a Twitter handle, Linkedin Group, etc. around your company or it’s products. Spend the time and do your research to find anything that might have been created already. One great tools for checking if your brand is already out there is through Knowem.com. You can simply plug your name in and they will pull from virtually ever social media channel on the web to see if it is taken or not. The initial search is free, but you can pay a small fee to have them reserve your brand on these channels before anyone else gets a hold of them.
- Listen Now that you know what has already began in your social media community it’s time to sit back and listen. Hear what people are saying about your brand before ever jumping in and talking. When you start talking right away, your social media community could be put off by it.
Here’s how I envision it:
When you meet someone in-person for the first time and they start talking to you about themselves without letting you get in a word, it puts you off. All you want to do is hurry up and get through that moment to where you don’t ever have to see them or speak to them again. You don’t want people feeling that way about you or your brand do you?
Remember that a social media community is just like real life interactions, the only difference is that you are typing rather than talking. So take the time, listen to your community and what they are saying. Get to know them, what they desire, what gets them excited, why they like your brand, etc.
- Invite Now that you have assessed and listened to your social media community, it’s time to start engaging. This is the point where you get to talk. You community will start to invite you in to the community they have already established. Remember that while you may own (or represent) the brand, you are still just a visitor at this point. When questions are asked among the community, then answer where you can. Invite other people within your organization in to engage with the community. Introduce them and have them help represent the brand as much as possible. Be a resource to your community…
- ValueNow that you are a part of your social media community, you get to start showing your value. Now is your chance to start marketing to your community. Get them excited about being a part of a special club that no one else gets to be a part of. I call it “marketing without marketing”. Send them special discounts, promotions, etc. that aren’t available to anyone else. Make them feel special – add value…
- Enchant Now that you have shown your social media community that you can provide them with value, you are now enchanting them. They are excited about your brand, the value it brings to them, and therefore they will naturally start to share this with their friends. They will invite more people into the community to join in and get to know the brand better. Those people will see the value, and share with their friends, and so on.
If you follow these simple steps your community with grow and thrive while supporting your brand. You can then start to manage your customer service, qualify leads, or even manage some market research through your growing community.