by Sherry Heyl
I am currently working on a project scope for a large, widespread organization that is seeking to create a digital community. As I lay out each of the milestones and the accompanying presentations I recognized that there are 3 C’s that are the foundation of a digital community.
- Connected Channels
- Consistent Message
- Core Values
Online you get to have short bursts of attention from a divided audience to let them know what you stand for. Therefore what you stand for should be the core of every message and every level of engagement of your organization.
Do you agree or disagree that these are the foundations of a great digital community? What organizations have you seen embracing the three C’s of digital community?
by Sherry Heyl
Have you ever had a person, whom you barely know, ask you to make a commitment to them that seemed out of line with your knowledge and connection to them?
I was once introduced to a business person who asked me to spend 2 days and 2 nights with her at a business event. I had just met her. I politely declined and never made an effort to get to know that person again. She may have had great intentions and may have been a great person, but she crossed my line of comfort.
We all have a comfort zone, both online and off, and when people cross into that zone, the normal response is to push that person away.
Yet many marketers forget that when it comes to the relationship between a brand and a consumer and/or advocate. This is especially true with social media. I cannot count how many times I hear someone who has no presence in any social media channel say they want to start their social media efforts by making something go viral.
Here are the four steps and expectations that are true in any relationship or business venture. This should also be applied to your social media outreach efforts.
Step 1: The Introduction
During the introduction stage you are watching behavior, learning about the interest of others, sharing your own interest as well and finding where there is common ground. To do this it is helpful if you are speaking the same language, have a common understanding of what is normal, and be in the same location. In social media that means learning what channels to be in, how they work, and overall community best practices.
Step 2: Growing and Engaging
In any business venture, you need to start growing your client base. You do this by taking care of the initial people who took a chance with your business as well as meeting new people. This is a cycle of introductions, but by this stage you are fairly comfortable with where you should be and what the norms are. Each relationship will be different at this point and you are able to identify who wants to hang out with you and who is just part of an extended circle. In social media, this is when you start recognizing your advocates and your buyers and begin to tailor win-win programs.
Step 3: Ask and you shall receive
At this point you have friends. You know each other. You have already done little things for each other. Now you can take the relationship to the next level. Now you can ask for honest opinions and brainstorm ideas(crowdsourcing). You can ask for referrals, or to retweet/share with your friends. You can ask for support from your community. In social media this is when you can create stories/media assest, based on what you know about your fans, that can go viral.
Step 4: You support your community and your community supports you
At this point you are part of the community. Stuff goes viral without you even expecting it. People share more ideas with you than you may want to hear. Referrals grow exponentially. Your job is to manage expectations, nurture relationships, and continue to add value to the community in accordance to your goals. In social media, this is when you can say you have a purpose-driven community.
When you have reached the final step, you cannot take your community for granted. If you disappear, they will disappear and you will be back to step 2 (step 1 depending on how much the landscape has changed).
Many small business owners or professionals in smaller organizations get confused when they hear how Coca-Cola, Chick-Fil-A, or American Cancer Society launched a campaign that went viral immediately. Large brands have been building and nurturing a community long before social media came along, and for most of those brands, their community was supporting them in social media long before the brand knew what social media was. They simply had to learn how to plug in and leverage that support. But if you are just getting started or wanting to connect with a new audience using social media, take the relationship step by step.
by Sherry Heyl
Last night I sat on my couch with my Mac on my lap while the news flashed images on the T.V. in front of me. I was reading some random blog post when I looked up and saw the words “Steve Jobs has died.”
In a brief second the air seemed to have been sucked out of the room.
I turned my attention to my online networks. On Facebook, Twitter, and Google + we shared videos, stories, inspirational quotes.
After hours of watching and reading tributes I went upstairs to my room. There was my husband watching a documentary on his iPad. He set his alarm to wake us up with the music from his iPod that was connected to it.
It is astonishing how much he accomplished in his liftetime.
It is astonishing how much he accomplished in a short lifetime of only 56 years.
It is astonishing how much he accomplished in the past 7 years…the same 7 years he was battling cancer.
As we all pay our tributes, we recognize that his greatness came from his passion, his curiosity, his creativity, his demand for perfection. But he was able to accomplish his desire to “put a ding in the Universe” because of his fearlessness.
Thank you Steve Jobs.
by Sherry Heyl
This past Wednesday I conducted a full-day workshop for nonprofits. My co-presenter, Liz, is a client and friend from Center for the Visually Impaired. Liz took the social media concepts that we worked on together last year and completely expanded her view on how the CVI story could be told. She has also illustrated through her implementation of social media into CVI’s communications that successful social media initiative goes beyond telling good stories, it is about the reason the stories are being told.
Our workshop started with a discussion of what the roles and responsibilities are of Marketing and PR professionals. We talked about who they reported to, what their measurable goals are and what programs or initiatives they lead to reach their goals.
I then switched the conversation to the community. Who does the community report to? Only themselves and their peers. What are the community’s goals? Depends on personal motives. What programs or initiatives do community members lead? Any that they want to. Communities are not obligated to anyone to do anything.
When an organization takes on a social media initiative, they cannot simply plug their old marketing plan and objectives into new channels.
Marketing Plans are usually written with the organization’s goal in mind. Social media initiatives need to be written with the community’s goal in mind.
The reason for your existence has to be clear. Most organizations can answer the question “What is your mission?” May organizations can tell you why that is their mission. However even fewer people who sit in offices, out of the trenches can answer the question “who they specifically have you helped?” This is the part of and organization’s story that resonates with the community. It is a technique that politicians and journalists depend on, but that other communicators somehow miss. Every time I meet someone from a nonprofit and I ask them what they do, I hear about the thousands of people they fed, provided shelter to, got jobs for. My eyes glaze over in the same way when I hear about the thousand of murders that have happened, soldiers who have died in combat or people starving in Africa. But when we hear that one personal story, we are connected to the mission.
During the workshop I heard how one organization provides medical care to hundreds of uninsured people….disconnect. I asked for the personal story. There was a woman who was a prostitute. When she received care, not just medical care, but personal therapy from the clinic, she took the opportunity to improve her life and the life of others. She now has a steady job and volunteers to support children in need within the community. That connected with me.
The leads to the next question to answer when developing your reason and your story. How does what you do impact my life, me, the average Johns Creek mom?
In many cases in this workshop we were able to show how the nonprofits in the room provided assistance which helped keep my insurance costs down. For example the organization that provides home medical equipment enables patience to leave hospitals sooner and to complete their recovery at home. This means insurance companies do not have to spend as much money on long-term hospital care which means the average Johns Creek mom has lower insurance.
Nonprofits support the entire community, not just specific clients, and the more they can show their impact on the community the more the community will support the nonprofit.
The remainder of the workshop we focused on setting SMART goals and learning the tools. The lesson, I hope each participant walked away with is until you know the why; why will the community support you, you should not worry about the how; how to use the tools.