This week in #cmgrclass one of the key concepts discussed was the importance of authenticity behind building up a brand name and presence. In this kommein piece written by Deb Ng, the author laments over the intrusive and forceful tactics some organizations employ to grow their online communities. Namely, she lambasts certain organizations for using DM and inbox on Twitter and Facebook, respectively, to ask individuals to “like” a certain page.
Soliciting likes via private messaging is akin to insurance companies soliciting products via knocking on your front door. It’s intrusive. It’s mildly uncomfortable. And the receiving party feels unduly pressured to endorse a product or service he probably doesn’t want.
In her post What Not to do When Using Social Media for Business, Alyssa Gregory dedicates four of her seven “what not to dos” to items related to Ng’s initial pet peeve. Gregory suggests:
- DO NOT Spam Your Fans, Followers, Circles
- DO NOT Share Too Much
- DO NOT Self-Promote All the Time
By following these three commandments, an organization may avoid being absolutely horrible and learn to build trust authentically.
So if you’re not supposed to directly ask for people to like or endorse your online brand representation, what exactly are you supposed to do? This question leads me to my theory of If You Build it, They Will Come (yes I took poetic license with the name adaptation, but it’s applicable as much here as it was in Field of Dreams).
If you manage the community for a brand, the best way to build up a community around that brand is to identify the target demographic of your brand and then create content and conversation that appeals to that demographic while also properly representing the brand. If you can accomplish this, community members will organically be drawn to the brand in question. Aka, if you build it, they will come.
Let’s use Zappos as an example here. In her blog post How Zappos makes social media a part of its company culture, Susan Rush opens with “When it comes to social media,Zappos.com just gets it.” And get it, they do. As a company that started as a small startup with almost no community, as it grew it built its presence by engaging in authentic conversation and creating content that not only had to do with its own product and overall brand, but also appealed to its demographic.
“But how did they do it”?, you may ask. According to Zappos’ Thomas Knoll, their success comes from implementing the “social media policy [of] be yourself and don’t be stupid.” No inboxing strangers. Not DMing Twitter users with a high Klout score. Just plain old authenticity. And from there, a community was built.