From previous blogs, we talked about the importance of a wholly-owned and branded community as part of a SocialCRM strategy. We used a 3 legged stool as a metaphor. First “leg” discussed was the brand’s role in the community and the second leg was the influencers critical importance. On to the 3rd leg of the stool and the “leg” most critical for success…your customers/markets.
The community’s (or Hub as we like to refer to it) purpose is to build loyal and profitable relationships. Whether this is related to customer retention or acquisition, the goal is the same. The key to success for Hub lies in engagement. Moving your audiences from simple observers to brand advocates is the focus of all activities within the community. As we’ve seen through our research activities, most brands are still mired in a push rather than pull strategy. Most posts are generated by the brand about the brand. The brand’s latest news, content and offers seem to be the rule rather than the exception. Even offers can get stale as they may have lost their relevance to select segments. The barometer in this case should be sharing or resonance. How much of a brand’s messages are being shared across the social web? Is there dialogue? Are comments or questions originating from your customers? The nirvana is to have your customers/markets actively engaged with your brand as well as with each other. We believe the branded community is the perfect destination to initiate these activities and then synchronized across the social networks.
There are many significant ways of accomplishing this type of engagement. We’ve discussed some of those in previous blog posts regarding SocialCRM. From a customer engagement and a “getting started” perspective, consider a couple of ideas.
MROC (Marketing Research in an Online Community) is an important activity within any community. MROC allows you to perform qualitative as well as quantitative research to gather information about your products/services. How do your customers feel about your products/services? Or what are your customer’s attitudes, passions and interests as it relates to not only the product/service offering but also those passions relating attributes delivered through the product/service. The ability to understand what’s happening not only in their heads but their hearts. Powerful stuff.
Rewarding people or businesses for participating in activities emanating from the community is another effective way to generate engagement and increase resonance. We are beginning to see more and more branded reward programs being introduced or integrated with social media marketing strategies. Rewards can manifest itself in numerous ways. Financial, social and partner programs are examples of that.
Sharing is the New Selling
To move a person from being an observer to actively engaged and sharing is no small task. Recent reports and statistics regarding social engagement is reinforcing that. From experience we can assure you, as we have with our clients, in order to be successful the brand needs to be Consistent and Creative. Don’t think for one second that this social stuff is a once a week activity. To be consistent means; full time, timely and planned. From a creative standpoint, you’ll need to be dynamic with your ideation, leverage your analytical findings and be relevant. Understanding your customers/markets behaviors and attitudes allows you to create contextual messages driving engagement, sharing and sales. You might even reach a point where you and your customers are creating additional and new communities based on shared beliefs, interests and passions.