Community marketing






Community marketing places the emphasis on building communities rather than simply trying to achieve one-off sales. As you might expect, lots of companies talk the talk but fail to recognise that community marketing requires a different mindset. It isn't simply collecting lots of emails or opening a forum and then blasting people with sales messages.

The sale should be seen as a by-product of other activities. In fact, 'sale' is the wrong word. We should be using 'purchase'. Selling implies that we are directly changing the behaviour of the buyer. In purchasing, it is the buyer who is active.

And this distinction is critical. A community has active members; members who are able to interact with each other.

As a member of the community, an organisation can provide support, information, tips, encouragement etc. By participating, the organisation raises its profile and creates a positive image.

Community Blogs

I have created a separate page for community blogs, which can be established very quickly and easily using the WordPress Multi User platform, providing your community bloggers with a familiar interface. I believe that community blogs, if used correctly, can be one of the most powerful marketing tools and an excellent way to promote brand values.

Create Your Own Social Network

Social Engine is an extremly feature-rich social networking application that will cover the needs of virtually any community. You can offer for your members (click to enlarge image):

Social Engine Example

blogs
albums
groups
messaging
events
chat
classifieds
announcements
videos

This software is perfect for:

hobby groups - gardening, DIY,
special interests - dogs, cats, gaming, music
collectors - coins,stamps, antiques, dolls
enthusiasts - trains, motorbikes, camping,
sports - leagues
clubs - sports, supporters, social
education - schools and colleges
pressure groups - environmental,
fans - authors, movies stars, musicians
etc
Because it is installed on your server,you are in complete control of content and branding. This is extremely easy to use and yet opens up endless possibilities for creating and growing communities. Click on the image below to visit the SocialEngine website where you can view the features in more detail, try out a demo and get a free trial download.

SocialEngine

Communities have lots of potential. A recent launch by some of the most successful internet marketers focuses on this very area. NicheSocializer sold for $997 - and the software is not as good as Social Engine!

Providing the Structure

There are a number of other frameworks for communities, often with free open-source software and one-click installs with many webhosts:

forums - phpBB
wikis - compare them all at wikimatrix.org
blogs (eg WPMU) -
content management systems such as the Drupal and Interspire Web Publisher
The key to success in community marketing is to identify how you can contribute value first and how you can make money second. It should be viewed in the same way as PR and brand building rather than as a direct marketing. The benefits over the medium-term can be considerable:

market research - know what people really think
product development
reduced support costs - members support members
search engine ranking - lots of backlinks
etc



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