Community engagement is something that PRs and marketers don’t do, in my opinion, very well. I believe that to get the most out of any outreach campaign within a long-term strategy, as a person representing a brand, you need to be aware of how the communities you’re intending to work with operate. With this knowledge you can guide your client as to the most appropriate way to help the guys they’re looking to talk with.
I don’t believe in quick wins as a strategy. It implies you’re only after one thing: coverage.
Of course, clients give us KPIs and metrics to meet, and these are an important element of assessing how successful the work that you, as a marketer, are doing.
However, I would much rather see a time when brands don’t judge the success of an activity by straight forward volume of blog posts or tweets, but by the encouraging of dialogue between a group of people which may eventually lead to sales (the big all important proof point of course).
Now, I am by no means the perfect specimen of course. I fully admit that as much research into a community I do, without being a part of the community you’re looking to speak with, you can’t quite get the right level of credibility.
Jack Ricchiuto recently published a paper on The Practice & Power of Authentic Community Engagement (hat tip to Chris Corrigan) and asks three really key questions that I think every brand should look to answer before setting out on engaging with a community:
✦What would you love to make possible and contribute to in the future of this community?
✦What talents and resources do you have that might help bring these possibilities to reality?
✦What are you committed personally and together to doing to realize these possibilities?
In order to answer these questions, maybe it’s worth taking some time to create a community engagement map which is…
… a way to evaluate and visualize the communities and other social media elements currently in place for a business. It allows you to assess the current channels customers and others in your ecosystem are using to talk about your business and products.
This isn’t a technique i’ve used, but is something I will look to try over the next few months to try and better answer the three key questions mentioned above.