Yesterday I had a conversation with a freind of mine about what it takes to get results from a social website community. I’ve been around long enough to see how influential some online communities can be if you have the right game plan. The hardest thing about the social media is the time that it takes to build up a reputable profile, enough so to be an influencer in the community, or have enough pull to get results. As you might know, in order to get to Digg.com’s home page it takes having the right network of people in the community to get there. Chances are you’re won’t make it anywhere on your own without this type of community behind you.
Years back, some people were able to hang around a community and actively participate with less than an hour a day and were able to justify the time with the results that came through the community. Today I’ve heard it take as many as four times that to have a strong enough profile to make that kind of influence in the community.
So the question is, if you are a website/business owner and you have 5 different online communities that you find your potential market, how much time can you justify spending in each of these communities. The conversation continued with my friend mentioning the amount of time he has spent to build up over 500 people in his network, but now that he had that, he wasn’t sure what the next step was to start getting results for his business. As a pre-caution you don’t want to only push your products in these communities, you won’t last, people will see what you’re doing and leave or even worse flag your profile. Most of them hang out in the community for enjoyment, not to be pitched your product. With that being said it doesn’t mean they won’t buy either or that you might have other intentions with the community; like building links to your site.
If you walk into a dark room and you have 5 minutes to find a golden nugget would you: A. Begin running around, not knowing how big the room was, what obstacles might be in the room, or even where to start or B. Would you work with the person who already knows where it is and can show it to you for a small fee. My point being: stop trying to be the expert at everything – it takes way to long and your results might not be as great. If you were smart you could have 5 times the result among the 5 communities if you laid out the proper plan. Here is my plan:
- Find the individuals/companies already in the online communties, who say they can help you get the results you want.
- Ask them for previous examples of success with those exact communities you would like to have a presence.
- *Establish that you’re looking for results, not just someone to manage your online community. (This step is crucial, otherwise you’re wasting your time)
- Establish the benchmark & timeframe, what needs to happen for the campaign to be called a success.
- Measure the results
- Fire them if the don’t deliver, hire them if they do!
We recently have been working with a company similiar to the layout I just described above. After 3 months we’d established our benchmarks and they’d only hit about half of them. When it came time to talk, they waived the last invoice they sent to us until they hit the results we set in our benchmark. To be honest, we haven’t been displeased with the service, but they just haven’t hit our expectations. They know it and we know it. A company with integrity will continue to work on it until they get the results they promised; otherwise it is really easy to move onto another project or company. They key is to setup the benchmark in a fashion that you can measure the results.
To close up the story with my friend, he has spent countless hours building his community and trying to learn how to get traffic and sales from this community, since the first of the year, he has seen only 6 visits. With the company I laid out above we saw over 18,000 visits with 1 launch (our goals was to build links).