"You’re looking to answer one question: Are these people doers or grandstanders?" The Internet is a fickle place, especially when it comes to marketing. No matter how devoted your fan base, they will abandon you if you’re not keeping pace with how people interact online. Today’s thriving Facebook page could become tomorrow’s virtual wasteland as more personal and efficient communication methods become popular. I’m a longtime member of an academy that shall remain nameless. At one time, it ran cutting-edge member engagement forums. But other social platforms now offer much better commenting and sharing capabilities, and I’ve grown accustomed to the ease and speed of these programs. The academy’s system feels cumbersome by comparison. Frankly, it’s tiring to use. I spend way less time using this platform now, which is a shame because I used to enjoy it so much. Without relevant engagement strategies, your early adopters will eventually abandon you for fresher, more user-friendly communities. And this is the crowd to watch, because if you’re basing tech decisions on late adopters, you’re already out of the game. Let’s say you’re running a marketing academy. Your students might want a Snapchat course today, but the ambitious ones will quickly move on to something else. If you don’t pay attention to their changing demands, you’re left delivering content to participants whose mentalities are hung up on trends from two years ago. When you’re not listening to early adopters, you don’t know what you don’t know about your own business. Don’t rely on the Luddites of the world to tell you what’s up.
The Squeaky Wheel Doesn’t Always Deserve the Grease
When identifying which platforms best suit your community, look beyond the squeaky wheels – you know, the ones who comment on every post and are lightning quick when it comes to offering unsolicited opinions. It’s great that these people are engaged. But some might just like to hear themselves talk, and the chattiest members aren’t always representative of the entire group. In fact, they’re usually not. Dig deep to find fresh thinkers for your inner circle so you can get an accurate take on where your communications strategy needs to grow. Direct engagement enables you to cull valuable feedback from your social lurkers. These people consume your content and love what you’re about, but don’t typically engage in the forums. Whether this is due to shyness or busyness, you want to bring these folks into the conversation. Use the following tactics to connect with more of your followers:
1. Constantly redefine your audience personas.
Send out regular polls to find out what people are working on, what they value, where they are in their career progressions, and who they are more generally. If you spot someone who goes against the grain or is doing something totally unique, reach out to him or her immediately. I often find that people who get branded as “weird” end up being the thought leaders and truly innovative thinkers.
2. Engage the outliers.
Find out why these people do things the way they do, because their method might inform your next piece of content or your next big move. The most influential leaders do things differently – Steve Jobs and Richard Branson are who they are for a reason. “He’s so successful because he followed the rulebook!” isn’t something you hear often. Or ever.
3. Challenge your community lieutenants to share what they’re doing and what gains they’ve made.
You’re looking to answer one question: Are these people doers or grandstanders? Poll your members on when they launched their side projects, how many hours a week they devote to that hustle, and what successes they’ve achieved so far. Their answers should shape your next round of content strategy. Those who are keen to share their opinions at every opportunity but aren’t actually creating something won’t have much value to offer. The people who sit around saving articles to Pocket all day are not the people you want to build a business around. Seek out the community members who put your ideas into practice and who will promote your brand on their way up. The simple act of asking these questions says something about your culture. By reaching out - and listening - to those who benefit most from your content, you establish yourself as a leader who cares about real results. These ongoing conversations position you for long-term evolution and success.