Last week we were joined by three experts, Luis Navarrete Gómez, Anton Shulke and Sarah Marks, sharing some of their best tips on how to build a community around your brand. Sarah shares her recommendations with us here:
Building community starts by looking at the good, the bad & the ugly
A tactical approach is needed to identify where you’re at, where you want to go (think about SMART goals here) and what strategies & tactics will get you there. How are you going to measure it? (This is basically the SOSTAC planning model.)
Step 1: Build insight by knowing your audience
Get to know your audiences! This might sound really basic and that is because it is! If you don’t truly get to know the communities you have built so far (internal and external) and the industry you’re serving at large, their needs & wishes, how can you start engaging them in a helpful and valuable way?
- Customers: Get a new-ish staff member (because they are not biased yet) to arrange 10-15 minute informal interviews with your customers. Make sure questions are to the point and answers can be easily recorded.
- Sales & Service: Both of those departments have lots of knowledge to share! Not only the customer’s frustrations but also their own. Customer service teams tend to experience similar frustrations as your customers when they’re using the solutions you provide to help customers. Sales teams will have insight on the mind-sets of your prospects which is just what you need to build out your community.
- Industry experts: They can be in-house or partners you work with. Here you’ll get lots of input into topics that are important across the industry.
- Competition: Are they building community? How? (What events do they take part in etc.)
- Internal: Send out feedback questionnaires – gamify it and make sure that prizes are available!
Step 2: Learn from this and build out insight
Make this a ‘team thing’ not just a ‘digital’ or ‘business’ thing. Create company-wide workshops to build up your insight. This is great for ideation of content, strategies, etc and draws from the extensive knowledge already existing within the company.
- Bring insights into a SWOT analysis or similar framework and identify trends as well as opportunities.
- Ask more questions: What is our brand position in the market? What is our USP and are we communicating it effectively (is our website and training materials ‘up to the job)? – Your research should show this.
- How can we, now that we have taken a baseline, start building community?
- Make sure to record the outcomes and ideas!
Step 3: Build iteratively
Realise that you won’t build a community overnight. Be realistic in what you’re trying to achieve and by when. It is good to dream big, but depending on what your analysis and research unearthed, creating the plan might not get you to your goal by next week or next month. SOSTAC breaks it all down into bite-sized chunks which helps with implementation.
A few tips:
- Go for quick wins.
- Ensure you can measure EVERYTHING.
- Test ideas and prepare to fail.
Once you start creating ‘community’ (whatever that might look like in your context), be prepared to be in it for the long game. Building community never stops, but it’s an iterative process.
Please also note that you are building community among potentially vastly different audiences: Your team & stakeholders, your customers, industry professionals, etc. All are valuable and need your attention but are micro-communities that have different needs etc.
Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge Sarah! If you missed the session, read through the presentation on slideshare and watch it below. As always, if anyone wants to join Tea Time SEO, either as a speaker or a viewer, you can sign up here. See you at 4:00pm for more tea!