Marketing has come a long way over the past ten years. It has become more about being friends with your client and less time focusing on making money out of them. And why shouldn’t it be? As a society, we are taught from a very early age the importance of friendships and how to make them. When you’re a child it is the most natural thing in the world, as an adult, it becomes a little harder; and as a business, it sometimes seems downright impossible. This is all because society has taught us to never mix business with friendship. Well society, the time has come to shake things up. With the world rapidly becoming more interlinked, the dynamics of how we communicate with one another has shifted. Seeking more long-term relationships than brief encounters, where you don’t just walk through neighbourhoods of communities but hold hundreds of them in your hand. As the digital world evolves and opens opportunities for your existing channels to grow, personally connecting yourself with a variety of audiences, you can look to optimise this through your brand’s voice to engage organically with each conversation. By doing this, you’re forming many budding friendships that are more likely to be a recurring customer and evidently high retention rates.
So now you know the logistics of building personal friendships online, we going to look at how to implement it into your business with a naturally fluent flare. Trust me, it’s easy, just try to follow this mantra:
The Objective: To Build a Community of Followers
Seth Godin, author of Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us, wrote: “Most organisations spend their time marketing to a crowd. Smart organisations assemble a tribe.” to build a community you need to understand why an audience would want to create a community around your brand. Begin by focusing on niche topics that demonstrate your brand values.
Those niche topics that show your brand ideology will attract multiple followers who believe in similar values. Engaging with the community is about encouraging and nurturing a conversation; An audience will listen to you, a community with discuss things with you – that is the direction you want to go to build those
The Strategy: Implementing Influencer Marketing
Influencer Marketing has grown up alongside social media, they are indeed the industry’s very own partners in crime. It’s typically a derivative marketing tactic that focuses on an individual’s influence, to amplify your brand’s voice, message and even values. Think, word of mouth with a hint of affluence. Instead of targeting large groups of people, a brand can use multiple influencers who have an existing trust with their current following to help develop a brand narrative. It sounds like a cop-out, instead of building your own community; you’re piggybacking onto someone else’s; we can assure you, you’re not. What you are doing is making your influencers the very first members of your own community, and from then on you repeat the process to connect with their following. The method of engaging with a potential follower is straightforward if you remember to break it down, like this:
Influencer Outreach – Igniting that first approach can seem like the most difficult and intimidating step of any relationship, be that personal or professional. Don’t worry, you did it on the school playground and you can do it now. The two things you need to remember to reach the right people is:
1. A great conversation starter, something that reflects your brand values so the right audience can relate to it. For example, if you’re a fashion label gets people talking about the up and coming season, what styles are they expecting?
2. Understand the importance of a hashtag and how to implement it accurate to locate the ideal audiences. But more on hashtags in a moment, let’s continue developing the first connection.
Influencer Engagement – Engagement is a critical tactic that should be practised throughout an entire strategy. It is the fundamental building block to connect with anyone online, be that an influencer or nice communities of followers. Wherever and whoever they are, your goal is to engage with them and entice them to join your community. This form of engagement could be as simple as social sharing and commenting, or as intricate as a brand/influencer collaborative strategy. Whatever direction you take, your subject incentive needs to embody your brand’s interest, goals, and values through an organic conversation. Influencers can be pricey especially for SME’s, but if you find the right influencer you can negotiate a collaboration or offer a sample of your services or product. Remember – It’s about building friendships.
Influencer Relations – The follow on from the initial engagement is building the relationship. This is where the importance of maintaining that topic incentive that was mentioned above, becomes valuable. If you use that incentive throughout your online channels, then every activity acts as a building block to help you stimulate multiple relationships with your online audience. The more connections you patiently cultivate; the more potent and notorious your online platform will become.
So now you know how influencer marketing works, let’s show you the best way to find the right community to connect with your perfect influencer.
The Tool: The Powerful Hashtag
Ok, so you probably know the logistics of a hashtag, a simple word or phrase to create, search, or identify with a conversation on social media. But, have you ever stopped to appreciate how powerful they really are. It’s astonishing really, that a simple combination of words tailgating after a dash symbol; can cultivate thousands of diverse online communities, unite distant strangers, and allow any content to be discovered. When using hashtags correctly, it can turn any faceless brand into an internet sensation. Yes, hashtags are the most powerful tool to reach people online, but like we said, only if they are implemented correctly.
Quantity over quality is always a rookie mistake with hashtags, companies have the tendency to bombard a post with an avalanche of hashtags in the hope to reach more people. Let us tell you now, this doesn’t work. You may be getting your brand’s name onto a variety of popular platforms, but so is everyone else.
No matter how appealing your post is, using this tactic will increase your engagement, but maybe not with your desired audience, and this will not benefit your band in the slightest. As that piece of content, you have worked so hard on will just blend into a hashtag platform like a brush stroke on a Monet painting. So instead of letting your hard work go to waste, you need to look at your social channels analytics to investigate who you are actually targeting and what key interests you are highlighting. If the data is not what you expected, then you need to revisit your quarter’s communication strategy to see how you can change this. A quick and easy tool to help you target the right demographic is your hashtag. Let us show you three unique ways of integrating hashtags into a post that will allow your brand to stand out amongst the algorithm, engage in a meaningful conversation, and build a dynamic tribe. Here are our top three types of hashtags to build the ultimate tribe:
The Geolocation Hashtag: Make sure you tag every location you go to, whether it’s a coffee shop or a networking event. It will not only open you up to multiple communities that have also connected to the geotag; but can also help you cultivate a daily narrative to your existing audience. If you’re a freelancer, try not to stay glued to your home office or loyal to one coffee shop. Get out there and work from a variety of places each day – you never know who you might meet. If you’re a company, try geotagging other cities around your own hometown to see if you can connect with communities outside of your comfort zone.
The Network Hashtag: One of our favourite uses of hashtags. A network hashtag is used amongst communities to schedule a certain time of the day or week to network online. In the Toon, there is a Twitter network community that collaborate every day at 2 pm called #BizHour. Do a little research and see if your town has a local networking hashtag, or maybe there is a networking hashtag specific to your industry. If you’ve had no luck finding the right networking hashtag, start one yourself – remember, smart organisations build their community.
The Brand Hashtag: This is a great follow on from the point above. As well as implementing other styles of hashtags, have your own brand hashtag. Whether it is for your brand, a campaign, or a movement you’re supporting. Cultivating your own brand hashtag can really enhance your persona. For example here at Noise Creative, we use #BecomeAmplified as a place for communities to discover our company values and communicate with our brand. Instagram has had some huge feature changes in 2018 – one of them allowing users to follow hashtags. When you’re planning your communication strategy for the next quarter, integrate a ‘Follow our Hashtag’ call to action. Follow this up by using the other hashtags mentioned above, and you will begin to see your social media as an adventurous playground filled with rewarding engagement and endless thriving communities to connect with.