We were at the Community2.0 conference in Las Vegas. Many of us are brands or marketers. We want to engage with or build community to meet some marketing goal - itself designed around a business goal. We may want more loyal customers, a way to activate brand advocates, build brand reputation and value, and even sell products and services.
For marketers at a community conference, we needed to talk about real-world practices where we have engaged with communities to get business done. We need to go beyond community 101. We accepted the folllowing:
- we need to serve the authentic needs of community members
- our solution is not simply shoe-horning display advertising into community spaces
- activating and stewarding community takes a new expertise
I had four experts on our panel and another 50 in the room Each understands a marketer’s perspective.
Our session the Insider’s Guide for Marketers using “Community” - we wanted to hear what each has learned from developing or running communities with marketers. And we got great experiences for the community of experts throughout the room (there remains a great Tweme here)
Insider’s Guide for Marketers using “Community”
- Avoid registration as it becomes a barrier to entry that slows down or can choke the community.
- Make the right choice about partnering vs. creating features for that community. Topix tried to create classifieds for their community when it turned out to be more efficient to partner.
- Don't try too hard to organize the chaos. Rather use it to your advantage. The message here is don't try to over control the community.
- It's a myth that communities don't like advertisers or advertising. If it's done right they not only tolerate it but they actually like it.
- Seek and embrace criticism don't simply allow it.
- Invite them to co-create as they become "owners" and ambassadors
- Use Twitter (there was a solid core of us at the conference "covering" our experience there via #c20 Tweme)
- Embrace as many points of enthusiasm as possible. Wherever people are expressing themselves - the core community, Facebook groups, Twitter memes - then embrace that activity somehow.
- Create community around brand-relevant topics that you find are already relevant to people (vs. communities directly around a product brand)
- Know who you are inviting to dinner and actively seek them out. If you want a thoughtful PBS-like crowd then design for them and go find them.
- Don't get lost in developing features. Spend your time getting people to express themselves and becoming engaged in dialogue.
- Know which KPIs matter. Start by deciding which metrics from the community will indicate success and progress - there are no relevant standards.
- Build your own ROI model. Use Charlene Li's ROI of Blogging for reference.
- Use studies that demonstrate the business value of community members (e.g. - better customers, more likely to advocate, lifetime value, etc...)
It was a lively discussion. These points are not a complete guide by any means. They are the practical insights of a few, great experts teased out in a great collaborative session at Community 2.0.