We are extremely grateful for the support our colleagues, clients and peers showed us by attending GroundFloor Media’s Denver South by Southwest (SXSW) Download event on April 5. We were even more appreciative of the time, effort and dedication that our friends Lauren Preston of Qdoba Mexican Grill and Chris Clemens of CCT Advertising put into their presentations and event prep. GFM could not have done it without them!
A few questions went unanswered due to time constraints, but we didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to weigh in with our opinions. If you did not have a chance to ask a question, please don’t hesitate to email it to us (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com).
Q.) In addition to trust and authenticity, what are the elements of building a community quickly?
First, make sure that you are doing an audit of all your existing communications channels, on- and offline, to make sure you are taking advantage of all the areas where your audiences are already gathered. Do you have a newsletter database? Upcoming events? Volunteer, donor or board membership databases? All of those channels are ripe for cross-promoting your online community and encouraging them to join you on the new social platforms you build. Second, do not be afraid to experiment with paid awareness tools that complement your organic content. Targeted Facebook ads, for example, can provide a strong boost to community numbers when the message and call to action are both clear and compelling.
In addition to Alexis’ thoughts above, I would add that you have to be social if you want to excel in the social media space. Seek out thought leaders in your industry, known customers, employees, friends of your company, and vendors. Then engage with them on social platforms. Answer their questions, participate in their conversations, and ask them questions. Finally, set up search terms to discover who is talking about your products, your brand and your industry. Approach these audiences the same way – talk with them, not at them. It may take a little effort, but your community will grow faster than you think, and it will be an authentic group that is already engaged on some level with your brand and/or industry.
Q. What are examples of giving people an experience, involving followers/customers?
Instagrid, an emerging photo-sharing service that seeks to connect brands with influential Instagram users, created a unique user experience for Warby Parker glasses. Approximately 80 Instagram users in New York City with strong followers and an interest in fashion were invited to a #WarbyWalk through Central Park. They met with a brand representative, were encouraged to take photos of the glasses around the park and were asked to tag all photos with the hashtag #WarbyWalk. Not only did Warby create a fun experience, they deepened relationships with potential customers by merging an online platform with offline relationship building.
We mentioned the AmEx/Jay-Z #syncshow, which was a great online/offline experience mixed with offers and giveaways. In addition, I attended a SXSW session by Lomography where the presenter discussed how the brand taps into an existing and enthused photography community, and provides them with a venue to share photos, camera tips and development tips. They do a great job embracing social while also promoting their physical locations. Finally, both Alexis and I attended a session revolving around the AMC series Mad Men and its character’s parody Twitter handles. It is a great case study in taking something that exists offline, and providing an extension for the audience to further engage, ask questions, see plot lines play out beyond the show, and really, build an even more loyal community utilizing the 24/7 nature of social networks.
Q.) How do you convince your company they should send you to SXSW?
Identify how social media and digital trends can positively impact your company, from the bottom line to employee relations, and develop a proposal that outlines how your attendance at SXSW will help in all of these key areas. Show executives how you will raise awareness for the company while on the ground in Austin, how attending SXSW may give you a leg up on competitors, and what steps you will take after SXSW to put best practices into action. Treat your SXSW plane ticket and badge as a proposal you have to win, and then follow through on your ideas!
Make a list of areas where your company should have a better understanding in the social space, or areas/topics that you’re currently struggling with (e.g., metrics). Then do your research on the past few years’ sessions that fit within those categories. Show your company’s decision makers what you expect to learn, and what your timeline is for implementing change or making progress after the show. SXSW is a conference that provides roughly 300 sessions per day for five days. I’ve searched and cannot find a conference for digital and social media efforts that provides more or better content, and with the same high-caliber speakers. Just be sure to sell it in early (September at the latest), get your badge, and find a hotel. They sell out quickly.
~Alexis & Jim