Recently I had the opportunity to be the moderator for our CMGRClass. Although I had guidance from the assigned readings as well as examples from others within the class, I still felt a bit nervous in the position. I spent several nights thinking about how to engage my classmates as well as searching for new and fresh articles that would be of interest. This was my first time in a position such as this and my main goal was to experience a week in the shoes of a Community Week.
This week I was able to moderate the discussion during the same week as one of our class panels. I found this to be very advantageous as well as thought provoking. I was able to more efficiently incorporate the panel discussion with our recent readings on building communities and Brand Ambassadors.
One of the hardest parts for me as a moderator was trying to be creative. No matter what role I take in life, I have never considered myself to be a creative individual. There were several times when I felt a bit frustrated because I could not think of new ways to get people involved.
That leads me to my second thought. I also found it difficult to engage people in meaningful conversation. I didn’t know what questions to ask people that would encourage them to think outside of the box and generate new ideas. Nor could I think of ways to encourage people to participate in the conversation. As a moderator there is a fine line of starting a conversation and dominating a conversation and I did not want to be the type of moderator that constantly posted various ideas and questions.
My final issue I experienced was using Twitter and encouraging people to participate on that social media platform. I am not the biggest fan of Twitter and have never really enjoyed using it. I think my own personal opposition caused me to remain resistant to using it for the moderation assignment.
We were approaching the end of the semester and as a moderator we had the responsibility of keeping users engaged. With that said, I learned that it is essential to know and understand your audience in order to provide them with information that they are interested in. We have discussed knowing your audience since the beginning of class, but distinguishing what I think may be interesting and what others may be interested in can be difficult. Furthermore, if I could redo my moderation over I would strategically plan out what I wanted to tweet throughout the week to ensure that I actively used Twitter. Overall, the moderation assignment was very interesting and allowed me to further understand the role of a moderator.
Using Social Media to Increase Business Exposure So you’re a small business with a great business idea and promoting your product or service in a niche market. How do you gain exposure and increase your brand awareness? Over the past ten years, social media has had a direct effect on businesses. Whether a company has used social media to interact with customers or gain more market exposure, social media has tremendously impacted how businesses operate. For instance, according to Edosomwan et. al., social media within an organization “helps strengthen the brand experience which will support brand building.” Social Media Tools Being that the way the world conducts business has drastically changed over the years, there are multiple social media outlets that can be used to promote a business. For instance business owners can utilize Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube to increase business exposure and connect with consumers.
Importance of Using Social Media Social Media outlets greatly influence how an organization conducts business and has changed the dynamic of traditional marketing and public relations within a company. Here are a few reasons why social media is necessary to incorporate within a business:
- Increases the amount of traffic to a business’ website
- Builds a stronger brand and promotes brand awareness
- Allows businesses to interact with customers and identify the needs of customers
- Allows businesses to gather data about their customers
Effective Ways to Use Social Media Understanding how to effectively use social media within a business can be a bit tricky, but when done properly, can significantly generate positive results for the company. Here are a few ways to use social media to promote a business:
- Engage in conversations with customers and build valuable relationships that attract customers to the product or service
- Gather data from current and potential customers to tailor products and services towards them which will potentially increase revenue
- Solicit reviews and feedback from consumers to address needs and improve products and services
- Use analytic tools to gain a understanding about consumer habits and optimal times throughout the day to promote the business to optimize brand exposure
True Story In recent weeks, I have used social media to increase brand awareness for a small startup company. The company focuses on assisting students and parents in identifying and securing funding for higher education. On a daily basis I use social media to inform followers of upcoming scholarships and deadlines as well as useful tips for navigating through the college application process. I also solicit different questions from followers at address those questions throughout the week via Facebook and Twitter. By generating different conversations, other people have started to follow the company and contract the company to assist them in their search. Furthermore, I use analytical tools on Facebook and Twitter to understand when users view and share different posts in order to ensure I post information at optimal times when viewers are online.
Why It’s Important
Incorporating Brand Ambassadors into a social media strategy allow future customers and members of the community to have firsthand access to the personal stories and opinions of members who are familiar and enthusiastic about a product or service. BAs are instrumental in establishing and building a company’s image by influencing current and future community members.
According to Olivier Blanchard, the author of Social Media ROI, “Through the use of social media, organizations can breed loyalty in their members by interacting regularly with them, befriending them, and empowering them to make a difference. The magic stems from the fact that social media can help humanize communication to such a degree that genuine friendships can begin to form between an organization’s staff and the member they interact with.”
The key here is that BAs help to “humanize communications” by publicizing the community and generating conversation around a product or service.
Here are 5 ways to build a Brand Ambassador Program:
- Listen to customers– Who knows your brand better than your customers? Most likely people within your organization, but customers know exactly what they like about your product and/or service and can better articulate that to members within the community. Listen to your customers and find out what they like/dislike and what they would like to see more or less of.
- PLAN! PLAN! PLAN!- And then plan some more. Planning is extremely important when creating a Brand Ambassador Program and it’s more important to ensure that the program is aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives.
- The Inside Job– The best place to start for a BA program is from within an organization by engaging employees. Search for people within your organization who are already using social media and have a basic understanding of how things work. Utilize these people to be the first BAs for your organization.
- Be selective– Not everyone should be an advocate for your brand. Although you may have hundreds of willing individuals who express an interest in being a BA, not all of those people will be a good fit for your organization. Understand your organization’s personality and create a list of qualities you would like your BA’s to possess then select people who meet those qualifications.
- Make It Worth While- Although customers may love your organization, people are more likely to participate when there is an incentive. Get creative! Highlight your BAs in interviews or feature them on your website. Offer BAs discounts or free items that reflect the organization.
Do you have a success story to share about your Brand Ambassador Program? If so, please share below.
On April 7, 2014, our class had the opportunity to conduct a Google Hangout with four individuals who are established Community Managers in their respective organizations. The Google Hangout consisted of Alexandra Dao from Vimeo, Tracey Churray from Foursquare, Gavin O’Hara from Lenovo, and Caira Conner from PolicyMic. Each person shared their personal story as to how they started as community managers and shared advice on how to establish and build a community.
All About Connection
Gavin started off as the second person of Lenovo’s social media team four years ago. He currently manages social media content and focuses on moderating the company’s global Facebook page. One thing that Gavin pointed out was that sometimes, Community Managers Spend more time reacting to social media issues rather than being proactive and conducting more check points with users. He stated that “small gesture go a long ways” and that community managers should connect more with users. Gavin also discussed how he often connected with users by sending messages or participating in conversations within the community.
Alex focuses on User and Community engagement as well as support at Vimeo. She discussed how she would like to interact more with users and find creative ways to encourage users to be more involved within the communities. For example, Alex’s team hosts “Weekend Challenges” with different themes that encourage users to interact and celebrate various things.
Smart and Sharp
At Policy Mic, Caira currently focuses on building a community of rising journalists. Recently, PolicyMic shifted their areas of focus and is now trying to reach a larger community where the company’s content is “Smart and Sharp” and can be shared amongst various demographics. As the company has changed, Caira is promoting loyalty within the community by building on strategic partnerships and networks.
Tracey manages the entire community of users at Foursquare and ensures that content is properly managed. Recently Foursquare launched a forum for “Super Users” that focuses on product direction and feedback within the community. The “Super Users” assist the company by providing ideas and different perspectives related to various topics. Tracey explained her support for Brand Ambassadors and how it is important to incorporate users and have users test and explore new ideas first.
At the end of the panel, it was clear to see that each Community Manager played a different role in their company although the positions were similar. One thing stands true- interacting with users within the community will always be essential for the community to succeed. Positive and personal interactions will always help strengthen a community.