It’s not about size, but about how you use it. Too many marketers are all about volume and have none of the technique…. Maybe they’re enjoying it, but they aren’t leaving many satisfied prospect behind.
A community is only as good as the engagement you get from the people in it, because engagement means conversation, and conversation is the first building block in developing a relationship. And relationships are the basis of successful sales. We’re all heard the adage: people buy from people.
Want some proof? Gallup found that an engaged customer offers a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth over an average customer. Increasingly, marketers are recognising that building communities and promoting discussion is the way to drive tangible future growth.
Good stuff, but how do you actually build engagement?
Here are our top 3 methods:
- Position the community around the members!
- 99% of all the B2B community and groups I see have missed the boat before they have started.
The 80/20 Rule
We’ve always been open about sharing our tactics here at The Social Effect, and one ratio we tend to stick to is the 80/20 rule – 80% unbranded content, 20% branded.
It’s about coming back to the purpose of your community – why are people there? They’re not there to consume a drip-feed of hollow marketing rhetoric, that’s for sure. They’re there because they want to discuss, debate, stay on top of industry trends and innovations, network. They want to be inspired and interested.
Bluntly, your latest and greatest piece of branded whatever just isn’t that interesting. People are desensitised – and it’s our fault, for hammering them with shouty outbound marketing for the past decade – and the only way to resensitise them to your branded stuff, and get them to engage with it and take action, is to embed it in a community that focusses 80%+ on your members passions.
Build one-on-one relationship with your members – Personal Interaction
You can’t just build a community and forget about it – relationships don’t magically just happen. The best communities coalesce around a leader, so you need to lead it. Don’t assume engagement will be member generated: take the bull by the horns and embed your own people in that community to interact and build relationships with members.
This doesn’t just mean just commenting on posts yourself, either. It means going above and beyond – thanking members personally for their contributions, for example. Messaging individuals when there’s a new post they might be especially interested in. Rewarding your top contributors.
Drive the conversation from your side by proactively reaching out and engaging on an individual level with members, and you’ll see engagement rates start to soar. You’re creating a positive reinforcement loop – they engage, you make them feel great about engaging, they engage again. So it goes on.
I think the rest needs to be a new blog post. Its less about getting engagement and more about bastards like LI changing shit………
Own, don’t rent
I’m not hating on LinkedIn or Facebook, OK? Groups are great, but. There’s always a but. If you don’t own your own community and rely completely on these social behemoths, you’re completely at their mercy. And, I hate to be the one to break it to you: these giants don’t have your best interests at heart.
The changes they keep making *could* be great for you – or they could undo all the work you’ve put in by changing/removing something absolutely critical to your efforts. Imagine if LinkedIn decided to remove your ability to communicate with you members? ……..Oh wait, they did, a month ago!!!
If you own your community, you’re not subject to the whims and fancies of anyone other than yourself (or maybe your boss). Owning a community means you have complete control over the experience members have, allowing you agility to adapt to their changing needs. It means you moderate the community more effectively, too. Social platforms are known for their crap moderation tools, and moderation is a critical part of building a thriving, aligned-to-purpose community.
In all, an owned community allows you to tailor your community to your members, crafting the experience, culture and content around their needs and driving higher engagement as a result.
Follow these 3 tips and you’ll end up with an owned, vertical, (largely) unbranded community jam-packed with engaged prospects, all ready to nurture through the sales funnel. A great community is genuinely win/win for your members and your brand.