This week’s social media blog posts:
Monday: The two kinds of online consumers.
Tuesday: Creating a Community, Part 1.
Wednesday: Creating a Community, Part 2.
Thursday: Social Media you can own.
Friday: Giving up control.
(This is the eleventh in our series of Social Media posts for the month of October. We look forward to your feedback on this series.)
In our previous few posts, we’ve talked about using existing social networks to build an online community. These communities aren’t “owned” by you; they belong to the members of the community. Setting up and enabling a community doesn’t mean you “own” it. The conversation goes where it goes, where the participants take it.
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and other existing networks offer lots of users and many possible existing communities for you to tap in to, but you may also benefit by creating your own gathering place. While there is plenty of value to be realized for businesses by following the conversation, there are other times it is of value to “own” the community gathering place. The advantage is that you can present the information you want. You can also help steer the conversation, while still deepening the relationship with your community.
Media that you can “own” includes your web site, tactical micro sites (web sites built for a specific audience or purpose), newsletters, email blasts and blogs (at least your original posts).
Micro sites have become a very popular way to attract and build a community. A micro site is basically a stand-alone web site—built much like the corporate web site you already have. In fact, it may be created as a page on your web site. What generally distinguishes a micro site is its users come for one specific purpose. As an example, if you are a university, you may wish to launch a micro site dedicated to homecoming week. Everything a visitor would need to know about homecoming week, from activities to travel accommodations to player bios and ticket information for the football team, could be found on that micro.
Directing banner ad click-throughs and email blasts to a focused, content-rich micro site can geometrically improve your click-through rates over sending them to your corporate web site (remember, people are online to find quick solutions).
Here is an example of a micro site that has done a great job in building a community, becoming viral (“I have to send this to my Aunt Millie!”) and, yes, selling tons of product. It is a micro site for BlendTec blenders, a brand of rather high-end kitchen blenders. The microsite is called “Will It Blend,” and features a collection of videos that show the company’s somewhat nerdy CEO Tom Dickson attempting to blend all sorts of obscure objects, from golf balls to glowsticks to golf clubs to iPhones. These short minute-long films are entertaining, quirky and demonstrate that the BlendTec 5000 can indeed blend anything.
Micro sites often offer more chance for community feedback that a corporate site. For example, the homecoming site above could include a page of “best homecoming memories,” a photo gallery, and a page or link to help you find missing classmates and leave messages for them. Will It Blend could have visitors vote on their favorite videos or send in suggestions for future vids.
How can you tell if your micro site, email blast or other content has the potential to “go viral?” While this is imprecise to say the least, one question to ask of it is: “Is this more outrageous than what I’d see on TV?” It’s got to quickly capture visitors’ fancies. Also, try to think in terms of “narrow” and “deep.” Pick an audience that is very niche, then push your content so it’s something that resonates with that narrow audience.
In conclusion, Social Media you own can be a valuable way to have more control over the conversation while building a community.
Feedback? We’d love to hear it.
Posted by Mickey