In today's marketplace one way communication mediums such as print, radio and television are not enough to foster involvement in community enterprise. Potential members want interaction and most importantly they want to feel like they have a stake in your group.
Opening up a two way dialog and thereby building and allowing involvement in the community at large is the most effective way to break out your brand and specific goals. E-commerce has become R-commerce. Relationship building, interactive dialog, and community involvement are the keys to building a successful community both online and off.
Social Media and the web in general give you a way to connect with individuals in a way that we have never seen before. Your reach far exceeds anything you can physically imagine. Through linking and connecting with other web sites and social media web portals not only can you get your message across but you can share with real human faces, express and receive real thoughts, opinions and options. Opening your community group up to real dialog, two way conversations with a huge group of potential followers; i.e. the broader community.
The most effect use of Social Media lies in the following roles and methods:
Community First: Give the community and potential consumers priority over your organisation. The person who becomes an advocate for the community wins their trust. They go out and join community rather than trying to build a new one. Being passionate about maintaining an accessible engagement process with the community allows them to relate and respond to your organisation’s passion.
Educator: Teach the community about your organisation and goals in a non-invasive manner. By telling the community how your our goals meet with theirs, you point out the benefits of being involved with you mission. No one cares if you have the biggest or fastest mouse trap, they simply want to know it is going to capture more mice. Identify and diagnose your potential customer’s issues then show them how your organisation can work towards solving those problems.
Put a local face on the organisation: Put your face out there, on your web site and at real live events. Give people someone they can relate to and identify with. Use your photo as an icon for your community forum, blog, wiki posts. Forget the stock images of the cool looking executives, be the person the community can connect with.
Going Beyond Just Marketing: To be truly involved in the community you need to be there after the sale. Do not lose sight of consumer support. Being a reachable, viable resource for people in an ongoing way and providing support only furthers your role as advocate. Furthermore, by allowing the community at large to be involved in policy development, you have created a league of stake holders and have positioned yourself for easy up adoption.
Moving yourself from a web development strategy to a web communication strategy is going to thrust your site, organisation, policy development or involvement opportunity into the larger market place. As you move yourself from a narrow focus, our company's web site, into a broader focus, how our web site is incorporated into our overall internet marketing and communication plan, you will begin to see and feel the potential.
Implementation of your web communication strategy should include tools like Facebook, Youtube, Blogging, Regular Update. Connecting your blog to larger (feeder) sites like Google Blog Search and others. Those feeder sites will make your blog accessible to other web sites. In addition you should search google for forums and blogs that are related to your current policy or issue and join and participate in those larger communities with genuine interest in benefiting that community.
If you are unsure what to write about, sit down and have lunch with someone who wants to "pick your brain". See what aspects of your organisation they want to know about and have keen interest in. Take away from that conversation items you can expand upon in a blog or online community.
Passion is absolutely required. If you are not passionate about what you do and love your own organisational community you will have a difficult time implementing a plan to discuss it online (or offline for that matter). Solicit help as well. The task of planning and implementing an effective online communication strategy can be somewhat daunting. Utilize the knowledge of someone who is a great communication or web strategist.
By either outsourcing part of that or finding good communicators and advocates within your organization you will ease your load considerably.