Do you want to start a cult with me?
Don’t worry it’s not going to be one of those posts.
One of the biggest challenges many face in today’s crowded market is communicating how great a product, service or piece of content is to an audience.
Actually getting those individuals to use said service or engage with your resources can be just as troublesome.
Why products need communities to thrive
I always tell those around me that you can build the best product or (in my industry) the greatest learning resource known to existence, but unless you actually tell people about this and make them care, then it’s worthless.
“If you build it, they won’t come”
Too many times I’ve seen great learning solutions that have been made with blood, sweat and tears for months fall by the wayside due to poorly executed engagement plans.
You’ve poured your soul into creating something and no one gives a damn.
And, you know what? Why should they?
Did you tell your audience what it is you’ve created and why it should be important to them too?
So now I’ve set the scene, what can we do about this?
Let’s explore how we get our audience excited and engaged with our content.
Tell real stories through real people
Marketing teams have used the tactic of building communities of brand advocates long before the days of social media to engage mass audiences.
They use groups of people who are bought into their brand to champion their messages in an authentic way.
They do this by using real people to tell real stories.
You might commonly know this role today as that of the ‘influencer’ in the world of social media. Yet, make no mistake, this tactic has been in play for decades before Twitter or Instagram hit the scene.
Not everyone is a fan of how the influencer culture has grown on social media platforms (me included). We can learn much from connecting with people in a human way.
How to find your community
Within your business, you can identify and build a network of people who can be champions of your content. The people who can influence diverse communities across your organisation through the power of their own experiences.
There’s no better way of doing this than by using real people to endorse your content and products. Testiomonials are the ultimate social proof. After all, people buy from people not brands.
Building a network of influencers might sound like a social media only buzzword, but I assure you it’s a powerful and often under-utilised marketing tool in many industries.
One of the main drivers behind all humans is to not miss out on what others are doing. We all want to be part of the crowd (thanks biology).
This is now classically coined as FOMO (fear of missing out).
If you have a group of people influencing your audience and creating the buzz, more people will want to join this community
You can look at your advocates as your own little mini marketing team as I do. They take your message, spread the word and make people feel like they too need to be using whatever new product or resource you’ve just released.
Within many organisations, you’ve probably heard these groups called champion networks or something similar. They all serve the same purpose just with different titles.
What’s important, is that you build communities of people who want to play a part in the building of your brand by sharing your work with the masses.
Think about all the people you follow on Instagram, YouTube or any other social media platform.
How many times have you made a purchase or took part in something due to their direct influence in them bringing this to your attention? I bet it’s a least a few, as I have too.
How to grow and manage your community
Define your target audience
Determine the type of people you want to join the community, including their job roles, skills, interests, and motivations.
This will help you tailor your recruitment efforts and messaging to attract the right people to empower learning in your org.
Communicate the benefits
There’s no such thing as a free lunch (or so they say).
Clearly communicate the benefits of joining the community.
Offer opportunities for professional development, networking, and collaboration with peers. Emphasise how being part of the community will enhance their skills, careers, and network.
Leverage existing networks
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.
You’ll probably have existing subject focused communties across the org already. Save yourself time and utilise these existing networks to reach out to potential new members.
Partner with existing brand advocates
Identify people in the company who are respected and influential in ways of the workplace.
Create a clear and accessible onboarding process
Do not skip over this one!
Don’t invest all those precious minutes to acquire new memebers to then lose them to a rubbish onboarding experience.
Make sure that the process of joining the community is easy and straightforward.
Provide clear instructions and a welcoming environment to help new members feel comfortable and integrated into the community.
Regularly engage with potential members
The work is not done just because they’ve joined your team.
You need to keep potential members engaged and interested by regularly providing updates and information about activities and events.
Next time you release your new shiny learning tool, resource or whatever you have.
Think about how you can market this to your audience with the biggest impact. Invest in your own army of influencers. Those who can share your message with different communities and tell real stories through real people.
Finding people to share your content will go a long way in getting more followers. We always seek recommendations from the people around us.
I mean think about the tools or resources that you use in your personal life. I bet at some point someone told you a tale about how this product/tool/content changed their life.
(Note: Although I’ve talked about this more from a business viewpoint, this tactic and it’s methodology can be used in any type of community building).
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