Communities gang up to love their brands
As we showed you yesterday, clued in consumers have formed communities online. They tell each other about what they want from life, what they have, what they need and what their favourite goods and services are. Seth Godin calls these communities “Tribes” and you can learn a lot by interacting with your tribes.
Idea-mining your customers
Working with customer communities involves more than just support and troubleshooting. You can also use them to mine for potential ideas and innovations. Large companies done this to great effect. Some examples are Dell’s Ideastorm initiative, My Starbucks Idea forum, and of course Microsoft’s ‘I’m a PC and I designed Windows 7’ campaign that lifted them from post-Vista blues. They admitted that consumers hated their last product, that they needed to take advice from users more and made it their launch campaign to great effect!
Listening to your communities can help you switch your marketing focus from ‘push’ to ‘ pull’. I.e. in future your brand won’t push itself onto potential customers, instead you’ll be there to help customers when they are ready, pulling them in.
Listen to the problems they have, what they expect from you and how they use your product. Look at your business from their perspective and see your brand as they see it. Take an ‘outside-in’ approach and update your strategy based on their needs, this will let you target your audience better, improving your reach.
Stories, dealing with the bad and the good
When dealing with a negative stories sprouting online, the main thing to remember is that the complaining customer will have the sympathy of the community. Whether it occurs on ‘neutral’ ground or your own social media pages, David V Goliath thinking often prevails. Communities need to be convinced that you are there to help them.
The customer usually holds the sway of public opinion (especially in a complaint situation), so tread softly, be polite, offer to take them ‘offline’ into a private email, phone or face to face conversation and resolve things there.
If they are talking about a good experience, then jump right into the conversation and thank them for their feedback. This will enhance their warm and fuzzy feeling, making them feel that they made the right decision.
Doing it right, an example
A great example of this type of community interaction happens daily on tripadvisor.com. As the hotel and hospitality industry are so beholden to public opinion, hotels will often respond to comments. They’ll give an explanation for bad feedback or thank good reviewers for their kind words. Either way, this kind of interaction shows they care, painting a positive image of their brand.
Check back tomorrow for some success stories on making community outreach a priority…