This is a sure-fire social marketing must-do that frightens marketers. It's easy to understand that fear if you're a marketer who delivers more hype than serviceable product.
But businesses that respect their social members and listen, respond, and act on worthy suggestions made by their audience are gold.
That gold comes in many ways and the most obvious is known by anthropologists and sociologists as "village elders." A synthesis of influencer and police, village elders are much better at recognizing unwanted voices and personalities and silencing them than any social marketing maven could be. The elders apply the network's power to keep people in line. If a business silenced antagonistic voices, they'd lose their audience in an internet heartbeat.
A recent study also indicated that trusted brand communities perform altruistically with the greatest efforts going to perpetuating the network. Given the current economy, this is understandable. Everything individuals traditionally place their trust in no longer seems trustworthy.
But people must trust to survive so that trust goes to like-minded individuals and where they gather becomes a safe place that must be protected at all costs. Brands providing trusted communities are filling that "safe place" need with a vengeance.
Management needs to engage the audience proactively periodically. It's great that you're reachable by your audience. How many times have you opened the door and solicited their feedback, their thoughts, and asked them what's working and what's not?
This used to be handled by companies that specialized in community development and product testing. Not so much anymore. Consumers like being valued much more than they like being handled. Your audience is out there and waiting. Make use of them and they'll love you for it.
It used to be that such proactive conversations were done once a year or so and were highly targeted to groups within the greater audience, a technique known as "pulsing." What we learned from pulsing in social networks is that regular, proactive conversations involving active, core groups kept the good vibes going through the entire network for much longer (3:1 factor) than the same conversations involving randomly selected audience members.
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