As social-media platforms mature, publishers and content marketers are finding it harder to reach audiences without paying heavily for promotional placement. As a result, content producers are increasingly interested in owning the communities they want to reach. Owned communities first have to be built, and that takes listening and service.
The potential of branded communities is addressed in “Predictions 2015: Social Media Grows Up”, available from Forrester Research for $499. Co-writer Nate Elliott provides an overview of the paper, highlighting Forrester’s sense that “branded communities will make a comeback in 2015.”
Elliott contends that brand-hosted forums can drive greater brand reach, convert prospects to customers and cement customer relationships. Elliott identified the benefits of owning a community, but he doesn’t explain what it takes to build them. That’s an oversight.
Elaine Feeney, responding to the Forrester report on Social Media Monthly’s blog, calls on content marketers to:
- Drive audience to your own soil.
- Cut through the noise and inform.
- Build communities.
On the last point she writes, “Owned social media communities are a great opportunity for you to become a trusted source to inform and engage your audience in a way that they value.”
I’ve written a fair amount about the important role that content producers can play in forming and serving communities. The most comprehensive overview can be found in a 2012 post, “Community Organizers”, that described how “competition now takes place at the level of use. “
For publishers and marketers, this is a disruptive notion, so much so that “Community Organizers” also includes the advice Innosight offers clients who are confronting disruptive innovation:
- Understand the criteria customers apply in choosing between solutions.
- Pinpoint an important job that isn’t being done adequately.
- Unlock markets by eliminating barriers for customers.
These are actions that start with listening, not with selling. Before we can build a community, we first need to show that we understand it.
For good reasons, content producers are interested in owning the communities they want to reach. To own those communities, they have to build them, and that takes listening and service.