If You Give a Community a Cookie … How to Create a Great Digital Neighborhood

If You Give a Community a Cookie … How to Create a Great Digital Neighborhood

As community manager for the Content Marketing Institute, I’ve learned that the way we design our “neighborhood” plays a huge role in how our audience experiences the brand. Some conversations include sharing goals and defining pain points. Provide opportunity to share Just as good neighbors share a cup of sugar, members of a good community are willing to share. Good neighbors show respect and courtesy and so should online community group members. Post the rules to make it easier to manage the group and moderate conversations. Example: Content Marketing World meetup At Content Marketing World 2014, the CMI team held a #CMWorld Twitter Chat meetup in the expo hall. Like a good neighbor would, some community members stepped up and asked to coordinate a larger effort. #lovemyjob #girlboss #marketing #marketeer #everybodywrites #digitalmarketing #lecture #guestlecture #alum #gogriz #backtoschool #schoolofbusiness #montanameansbusiness #blackfootlife #instagood #missoula #montana #universityofmontana #womeninbusiness #icon A post shared by Content Marketing Institute (@cmicontent) on Sep 26, 2018 at 6:28am PDT Don’t forget the cookies And just as good neighbors thank the person next door with their favorite cookies, brand communities can cook up some surprises too. CMI has been known to give a digital shout-out for birthdays, promotions, etc., and even a snail mail surprise or two to our community members. Even if you don’t have a cookie budget, you have the tools to build your brand in a neighborhood where your audience members are, in a way that will entice and engage them, in a format that breeds respect and trust.

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Think about the neighborhood you live in. Why do you love it? Why do you hate it?

When my family built a home, we knew our choices would be about much more than cabinets and flooring. We needed to pick the right community for us.

As community manager for the Content Marketing Institute, I’ve learned that the way we design our “neighborhood” plays a huge role in how our audience experiences the brand.

Stay away from cookie-cutter neighborhoods. To start or strengthen a community, you must differentiate your group.

What qualities should good communities have? I’ll discuss those elements and answer the questions I’ve been asked over the years on what your brand should consider for sustained participation. Finally, I’ll share an example of a brand instilling this sense of connectedness.

Create relevant communities

Have you ever surprised your neighbors with their favorite cookies? You’re a good neighbor. You not only engage with your neighbors but you know how to do it in a way they’ll most appreciate. A successful brand community uses the same approach. The brand researches the audience to understand its culture, then operates the community with the audience’s best interests at heart. That approach builds trusting relationships.

Example: Forks Over Knives Facebook Group

Forks Over Knives is a brand that grew from a film to multiple books, apps, and a website about a plant-based way of eating. It created an inclusive Facebook community, which reinforces its mission to support its members’ interest in whole-food, plant-based eating. The brand focuses the community on topics its customers care about and provides members open access to brand experts. It has established itself as a trustworthy online resource with a robust following of over 225,000.

Make them interesting

A good community acts as a social gathering spot. Members want to come back again and again. It is the brand’s job to keep things interesting. A dedicated and educated community manager can be an asset in facilitating conversations the audience craves.

Example: Buffer on Slack

Every Monday, the community managers at Buffer announce its group happenings for the week. Some conversations include sharing goals and defining pain points. As the community grows, Buffer invests more resources in staffing, furthering the group’s success.

Provide opportunity to share

Just as good neighbors share a cup of sugar, members of a good community are willing to share. These members become de-facto leaders and influencers, giving their time and knowledge to others. They also anticipate the needs of the group and encourage open communication.

Example: Nokia website-based forum

If a member seeks advice, community members are willing to lend a helping hand and provide common fixes. If the community has an…

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