Saturday, 14 February 2009

Building Community From The 'Outside In'

In the new connected digital age, corporations are looking to employ social tools to their business.

Go no further I say, then to see how start-ups are redefining the relationship between brands and their customers/users.

Meet the community manager. What used to be a not so important role within an organization, for start-ups it's often a hire that happens even before the chief marketing officer.


Everyone says word of mouth is key. But traditional thinking has you giving your agency a schwack of dough in order to create a fabulous WOM or dare i say it, VIRAL campaign. But that's only about brand awareness and maybe if done right, perception. However, influence and engagement are about much more. How do users of your products/services become advocates?

For start-ups with little or no advertising budgets, community isn't a nice to have, it's everything. And they're aggressive about it. That means not waiting and hoping that their community finds them, it means going out and finding their community in what I'll call an 'Outside In" approach.

What do I mean?

Well if you're a user of twitter do this test. If you are annoyed with the way a product or service works, twitter it and be sure to mention the company. Chances are the most response back you are going is from your followers agreeing or disagreeing with your point.

However, if you happen to be using a new start up product and mention something about them, chances are you will not only hear back from their community manager (e.g. Here Leigh try this link...or great suggestion Leigh I'll forward that to the team) but they will likely start following you as well.

I didn't need to find them. I didn't need to search for a phone number to a real person on the website. I didn't need to be on hold at a call centre costing both the company and me valuable time and money.

Instead they found me. And they find me every where they can. My blog. Twitter. FriendFeed. Wherever I am, they are right beside me.

Now, I'm sure you're thinking that's fine for start-ups but there's no way a large corporation can do that....Well think again. Dell has been doing it for a while now and according to various articles, they've seen positive ROI on a consistent basis.

The trick of course is to get beyond those smaller interchanges to fostering and empowering that community into something larger.

Outside In. I think it's the wave of the future.

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