The Insight Community you have, when you don’t have one!
Now before I get into this, I just want to clarify. An Insight Community is a sub-category of Brand Communities, a group of people that love your brand!
Insight Communities are aspirational to those of us converted to the concept. The idea of tapping into segments of fans within minutes when a crisis hits. Or when you just need to resolve an issue or brainstorm a new idea, while building brand advocates … well, it's hard to resist.
But it can be a beast that needs commitment, of both resources and finances. Everyone from the top down has to be on-board. And maintaining it is a specialist role, with constant communications and interactions to keep the community engaged. Of course, with entertainment brands it should be a bit easier … that is what you do!
But even though a large percentage of us see the value, doing it is a very different thing. I don’t have stats on the number of entertainment brands that run a full-blown Insight Community, but from our observations, it would be tiny.
So why don’t more get involved?
It seems to come down to time and/or money. We are all so time-poor these days, the idea of adding yet another time-consuming activity is just not something most can contemplate.
But, I reckon it’s often more to do with the perceived value of the community.
So what’s the ROI on running a community?
The biggest is the speed with which you can gather unique insights. Once you have the structure you can have your issue resolved literally overnight in many cases. Think of it, no more debates and time-wasting meetings. But if you need more convincing, you can check out this blog by the online community giant VisionCritical.
Of course, when you’re a small to medium size organisation, funding these sorts of resources is a stretch. Not only do you need to use an expensive tool like Vision Critical to manage your community. It will take at least one full-time staff member dedicated to running it.
So even though the ROI according to the article I linked to above is appealing, it takes a massive internal commitment.
But what’s the alternative?
Now I wouldn’t be telling you about all these benefits and issues if we didn’t have a solution.
That’s a ‘Pop-Up Community’ - the one you always have, but only when you need it.
Here are practical ideas to get you started on the journey. But with a lot less stress and commitment, both financially and time-wise.
Step 1 - The database
We’ve seen first-hand with our clients. The need to organise their database and turn it into an active community that you can tap into. Some lists can only be described as dysfunctional, through to well-maintained panels that instantly respond to requests for help.
The former are just a nightmare, making it almost impossible to gather insights. Which of course is a real problem when you have an issue.
A lot of brands assume that social media is their community. And yes, it’s a Social Community, but you wouldn’t air your dirty laundry or explore new ideas in public view for your competitors.
Actually, before I go any further…if you don’t have a database, I don’t care if you start a community or not. But a database of fans is your most valuable asset. So commit to getting that sorted…now!
And you never stop building!
Even if you have an existing list, recruiting needs to be constant just like any marketing campaign. Go quiet, and you're forgotten. Set-up a simple email marketing and list-recruitment system at the start and it will build on its own.
Use every resource you have at your disposal to get new members. That includes your website, social media, newsletters, and if you’re a media company then use your own ad-space!
Step 2 - Make it of value
It's a fact of life, but unless there’s something in it for your fans, they won't get involved. It's all well and good to want to build a database, but who wants to be on yet another email list because they love seeing their inbox full? But, if there’s something in it for them they value, then sure...they'll even look out for your emails.
Exclusive insider information and VIP access to special offers ahead of the crowd are always valued.
Step 3 - Automated platform
This seems really basic, so apologies if you’re well past this level. If you don't use a platform to automate your email marketing, then I suggest you get one. You can Google heaps of articles on finding the right tool for your needs and budget. Your social posts can also be easily integrated.
Sending a regular, short, templated newsy update keeps you top-of-mind without being too labour-intensive. And forms a sound base for the next steps.
Step 4 - Develop your communications strategy/schedule
I'm not suggesting this be really complicated. But it's worth documenting the events where you’ll want to more deeply engage with your fans.
Remember among the key benefits to a community is being able to reach out when you need their help. Or if you want to share some news that benefits them.
There'll be times that you can predict when input from your fans will be really valuable. For example, before you start planning for a new sports season or media ratings period.
Of course, it's in the nature of entertainment to be always changing, so you need to build in flexibility.
Step 5 - Let's chat!
Now a community wouldn't work without providing ways for people to gather round, to share their stories and ideas.
As I mentioned earlier, you could use an enterprise platform like Vision Critical - if you have the budget then go for it. And there are heaps of others that can help you.
But, given this article is about making Insight Communities more accessible and cost-effective, why not consider a Pop-Up Community.
This means that as part of your regular email marketing, you can drop-in on your fans, when you have something important to discuss. It doesn't matter how frequently you chat, just as long as you make it meaningful and engaging. Which will be memorable and shareable with their friends, building word-0f-mouth.
There is nothing more motivating for your fan, beyond any monetary rewards than actually being invited behind the scenes, being part of the team and feeling valued.
The Upshot …
The recipe above is more a blend of email marketing and private insight groups.
Because with the speed and clutter of our world, we’re less likely to commit to anything long term, and our attention spans are getting shorter.
Of course, it’s your choice. If you can afford a high-end Insights Community, then go for it!
But for the rest of us, I reckon this is a more realistic option for enjoying the enormous rewards of a community.
Of course, you’ll still need a chat tool and it so happens that I can offer you The cliizii Method.
Designed specifically for entertainment brands, that makes on-the-fly conversations with fans lots of fun for all.
You can find out more about it here.
Judy Celmins is the co-founder of cliizii. The world’s first qualitative research platform designed as a High-Energy Fan Event.
Customer Led Insights? Easy cliizii!