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Community Management

Most organizations invest in their social footprint.  They start with a strategy, then execute it, monitor it, and if they are good, they feed these results back into the strategy.  A feedback loop is critical, as it both injects market knowledge into the organization, and enables continuous improvement.

Unfortunately, this loop can also introduce a marketing blind spot: With all of the focus on optimization, is the strategic direction still correct?  Is there a category of activity that might be missing?  And are the individual initiatives focused enough… or are they too broad?  One way to answer this question is to consider the relationship between social media and any other marketing initiatives.  There are three ways this relationship can be categorized:

  1. Social Outbound:  This group of activities are designed to drive users to action beyond Social Media:  to a website transaction page, to a real-world location or event, to pick up the phone, or to execute some other activity.
  2. Social Inbound:  These are activities designed to move people into the Social Media world.  Examples include hashtags at conferences to “continue the conversation”, Social Media-based product support forums, and social links on advertising, marketing collateral, and signage.  A Social Inbound strategy is designed to amplify real-world initiatives online.
  3. Social Community:  This category of initiatives are designed to foster action within Social Media.  Usually this is done for the purpose of increasing brand affinity, market research, or advocacy.  As the community becomes more vibrant, it becomes a strategic asset – something that competitors cannot so easily replicate.

This week’s action plan:  How do your Social Media activities stack up?  This week, divide your initiatives between these groups, and see how it looks.  While every organization is different, the best strategies have strength in all three.

Marketing insight:  There is a critical interrelationship between the three strategies.  Social Inbound drives users to the community.  Social Community builds trust.  Social Outbound monetizes the relationship.  Or said another way, Social Inbound, Social Community, and Social Outbound all have their place on the relationship curve, driving users from awareness to preference, trial, and commitment.  (More on the relationship curve here.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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I recently had the opportunity to briefly meet Lixin Fan, director of the film, I Am Here, at TIFF, the Toronto International Film Festival.  A documentary film maker, he described the challenge of condensing 400 hours of content into a 90 minute movie, as he followed his subject matter over a six month period.

Lixin Fan, Director of I am here, talking to Randall Craig at TIFF“Selling” the movie to distributors and driving public demand for the movie was his real challenge… or was it?

Lixin Fan’s ulterior goal was to show the real China, and particularly the younger generation, to foster an understanding of the country on an international stage. At the same time, the movie’s goal was to introduce the Chinese public to the documentary film genre – an important channel of communication for a non-democratic country.

With these goals, how might social media and the web be used? Too often, the answer to this question revolves around developing a channel-based strategy: the Facebook strategy, the Twitter strategy, the YouTube strategy, etc.  (Or, in China, perhaps strategies for Qzone, Weixin, and Sina Weibo.) While the strategy might ultimately be executed on these channels, the strategy itself needs to be set at a higher level. 

For example, instead of seeing social media as a promotional tool for the movie, the movie should be seen as a promotional tool for a social media community. Doing so successfully requires two key activities:

  1. Slight changes to the movie to drive people to social media. For example, the end of the movie might include an additional what happened to person X scene, or at least an overlay with a teaser pointing to web-only content.
  2. A robust social platform, anchored with relevant content and special access to the director. This is where the 400 hours of film comes in. If even a fraction of this content is exposed, it will serve to promote the movie to new audiences while at the same time capturing the attention of existing movie-goers with bonus content and “back-story.”  It will also build the director’s profile, making it easier to attract backers for his next project.

This week’s action plan:  While you might not have your “product” screened at TIFF, you can use this same concept within your organization. Do your events build your Social Media community, or are your events stand-alone… events?  This week, grow social legs onto your next event – not just to promote it, but to build a powerful community.  (Here’s how:  Read Social Media for Event Planners.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to www.RandallCraig.com to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
www.RandallCraig.com
:  Professional credentials site
www.108ideaspace
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
www.ProfessionallySpeakingTV.com
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders

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