Community Marketing 101

In communities, it can be much more effective to educate (even through advertisements), rather than sell. Don’t pitch, participate After you find a community that feels like home, create a profile that represents the human you, rather than a brand. (Example of a “Vendor Expert” on Experts-Exchange.com) People contribute to online communities in order to share information, network, research and learn. Most people are members of a community because they’re passionate about certain topics. Contribute like an expert Integrate publishing articles to online communities into your content marketing strategy. Most communities offer notifications to their members. Many community members will jump at the chance to support a brand if they feel a connection with it. Use community advertising, but differently Nothing shows your support of a community like being showcased. Start by creating a content piece that lives in the community, such as an educational article. Run banner ads that feature your article headline, the community logo and a link back to the content piece you just created.

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Marketing in an online community is one of the most effective
ways to garner brand loyalty. But failure to follow these basic
guidelines could position you for opening Pandora’s box.

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Since the dawn of the internet, people have been drawn to online
communities for collaborating and advancing knowledge. Discussions
that previously took place in the depths of Usenet are now emerging
on Reddit. In a matter of seconds, you can find massive online
communities dedicated to everything from astrophysics to Zen.

As a marketer, it’s easy to look at a community devoted to
something related to your brand and see green. However, if you
plunge into a community with your marketing hat on, there’s a good
chance things will go awry. Even the perfect community for your
brand can morph into Medusa with the wrong approach, which is why
we’re here to share some secrets.

In communities, it can be much more effective to educate (even
through advertisements), rather than sell. It’s a longer sales
cycle, but it’s often rewarded with a significantly longer customer
lifetime value and a fiercely loyal group of brand ambassadors.

At
Experts Exchange
, we’ve managed one of the largest technical
communities online for 20 years now, and we’ve learned a thing or
two. In this article, we’ll share our recommendations on how to win
over your new community with ease.

1. Don’t pitch, participate

After you find a community that feels like home, create a
profile that represents the human you, rather than a brand. Fill
out every available field, write a biography, upload a profile
picture if you can, and monitor any conversations that are already
happening surrounding your brand.

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(Example of a “Vendor Expert” on
Experts-Exchange.com)

People contribute to online communities in order to share
information, network, research and learn. Most people are members
of a community because they’re passionate about certain topics.

Nobody wants to get hit with a hard sell when they’re browsing
their community of choice, so take off your marketing hat and
really participate in the conversations that are happening. Put
yourself in your audience’s shoes. If you were discussing your
dog’s food allergies with a friend, and a kibble salesman
interrupted your conversation to pedal his chow, it wouldn’t leave
the best impression. Now if that same salesman entered the
conversation and began educating you on a variety of things you
should consider (ingredients, servings and so on) in relation to
the discussion, you might appreciate the input.

Your audience will respond if you offer up information rather
than a pitch, so be sure to add plenty of context and explanation.
The link back to your product or service should not be the
focus.

Also, as hard as it may be, try not to revive old discussions,
as resurfacing outdated conversations may confuse the participants
or make you look bad. Instead, start a fresh conversation or
circulate a new piece of content.

2. Contribute like an expert

Integrate publishing articles to online communities into your
content marketing strategy. It’s a great way to reach your target
audience in their natural environment.

Publish educational pieces that are informative and helpful,
rather than pieces laced with marketing jargon. How-to articles,
tips and…

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