3 Online Community Lessons from Social Media Week

Social Media Week 2013 in NYC just wrapped up. There was a flurry of events on topics ranging from business to social impact to advertising and lifestyle. I attended events at JWT advertising agency on disruptive companies from diverse industries (film, fashion, technology and social impact) and at 92Y with the folks from The H(app)athon Project.

It wasn’t a series on how to get ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’, but instead focused on where social and digital strategies are taking businesses in the coming years. The stories were particular but the lessons are broadly applicable.  

Since we’re all about online communities here at Telligent, here are three insights from Social Media Week that can be applied quickly in your customer-facing online communities.

  1. No one wants to be marketed to (via Chloe + Isabel). Problem? Your sales and marketing teams are probably trying to sell something. But when people are in the process of buying stuff, they will look online for reviews, ask their friends or peers what they’ve bought and inquire whether they’re happy with the purchase. Instead of throwing marketing messages or product specs against the wall and seeing what sticks, give your customers some kind of valuable resource that they aren’t getting anywhere else – a dedicated networking and discussion area for a particular interest or industry, exclusive access to people, resources or opportunities, etc.

    Who gets it right? Titleist elevates its digital strategy by integrating its website, online community and social media presence. It gives golfers a central place to talk about all things golf, get advice from peers, learn which equipment is best for their game, interact with golf pros and gain opportunities to win cool prizes. Conversations about products come up naturally, but the community’s focus is really on creating a way for golfers to enjoy and discuss the sport with fellow fans. 

  2. Reciprocal relationships drive the most value (via Catchafire). This sounds intuitive, and it is, but it’s a point worth expanding upon. In an online community, customers are giving you ideas, sharing feedback and offering up their time and expertise to peers. In turn, you’re handing out resources, providing access to your subject matter experts and recognizing the top contributors. Keeping this balance is key to ensuring that you and your customers get mutual value.

    Who gets it right? GameInformer.com does a great job of promoting its magazine through its online community. Gamers can talk about games and devices, vote in polls, share reviews and get recognized for contributing their expertise in the community. Top contributors also get special privileges:
    • Featured blog(s) among peers
    • Access to elite forums
    • Ability to create group

  3. Create emotional experiences between purchases, instead of relying on traditional ads alone (via Bedrocket). People might not be over the moon about every blog or video you share. That said, you can help your customers get support more quickly and easily, facilitate helpful connections or enable customers to discuss an interest or passion with peers. Tapping into those needs and delivering a meaningful solution, instead of going for a hard sell, is more effective.  

    Who gets it right? Hitched is a wedding planning community where couples can discuss ideas and find goods/services for their wedding from other engaged couples. They can also read vendor reviews and find recommendations from a broad range of couples to make their day unique. At the same time, they can keep details of their weddings a surprise for family and friends. The community relationships are so strong that Hitched created a spin-off community, The Mumdrum, for couples who started having children.

Did anyone else attend Social Media Week and get any good ideas?

Katie Josephson
Product Marketing Analyst