“Throw it at the wall and see what sticks.”
…Not how you develop a strategy.
Yet, the number of businesses and individuals employing this technique is heartbreaking.
On any given day, businesses haphazardly post articles, respond to comments on Twitter, and “curate” content to their Facebook Page.
But to what end?
Instead, many just hear (from people who are selling a product) that it’s important to be on there, that’s where all the people are, and how the people on that platform are more qualified than the people on all the other platform, and you should know how to use it.
It’s like they’ve never even asked, “What is online marketing strategy?”
Instead of determining “Why” they choose instead to”Build a community of followers.” Because more people surely will lead to more sales…
But this is not the end of a strategy, it’s only the beginning.
Having many avatars in the same virtual space is no more a community than many tenants living in the same apartment building.
A true community is a group of people working towards the same goals, sharing resources, and helping each other out, not a big number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers.
So let’s say you do build a true community…
Why do you do what you do?
What do you stand for?
What do you want your community to do for you? (Hint: the answer isn’t strictly just to promote you)
Starbucks has a true community.
Starbucks online communit(ies)consists of a few different elements.
There is a Starbucks community for employees, where employees can join and/or lead a variety of community service projects like Food bank volunteering, or park clean up events. Starbucks believes in employee empowerment and community outreach, so having an employee community with a vast database of community minded projects simultaneously empowers employees, and extends the philanthropic arm of the company with minimal effort.
Mystarbucksidea.com is a website for s who want to have a say in the future of the company.
Why is this important?
I use the Starbucks community as an example, because they’ve created communities that address very real business problems in a few key areas.
They’re not looking to “activate” their s. They know that people aren’t just going to talk about them online on the simple merit that they enjoy their products. They understand you have to give people a reason to talk, beyond the core experience of your product or service.
They’ve included social design as a part of their business development, which will be the true key to marketing in the future.
When their marketing department got together to discuss why they should develop a strategy for social media, I’m guessing they didn’t just say “We need to be on Facebook. Let’s find a way to get our existing s to talk about how awesome we are on Facebook.”
I’m guessing the conversation sounded something like this…
Marketer A -“We need to find a way that we can reduce costs on product development, get real interaction from our s, and significantly increase our word of mouth buzz online.”
Marketer B-“Let’s create a forum where s can give real time suggestions on every aspect of our business. I mean everything too, from drink ideas, to what kind of music we play. If we incorporate a ranking system, we’ll know which ideas are viable before we put them to market, and when people encourage their friends to vote on their idea, it will only make the site more popular, and more people will want to participate. Doing this, could significantly reduce the time and resources we spend on focus groups and we’ll have a much stronger sense of what will work and not work based on the interaction in the forums”
Marketer C- “Brilliant, not only does it reduce our costs, be we can do it on a much larger scale. And for what? The cost of hosting? Maybe some moderators? Fantastic idea!”
I’m guessing a similar conversation took place when bridging the gap between empowering employees to do community service and reducing the friction to get stores involved in their local community.
Develop a strategy that is social by design.
But also serves a purpose.
The major thing that is lacking in online marketing strategies and especially social media strategies, is that they serve no purpose.
Posting the same article on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+ is not a social media strategy.
It’s social media vomit, and it clogs up the entire system.
Develop different content for different platforms, that are in line of the expectations of the platform’s community.
Allow your content to help people determine if they have a problem or not.
There are so many tips and tricks type articles out there, that a person can become overwhelmed and frustrated.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “Yes well I’ve done everything I’ve read I should do, but it didn’t work” and the reason for that is because “Tips and tricks” articles aren’t defining a target market, they’re making blanket statements that many people in the non-marketing world take as gospel.
Of course, there are several problems with this, and you may have experienced one or all of them.
- People get frustrated when it doesn’t work, and blame the entire industry, making it difficult for you.
- You give away all of your best stuff, have nothing to sell, then wonder why nobody wants to buy from you.
- They’ve gotten everything they need from you, and won’t invest any money, because they got it all for free.