Community Marketing

grab a niche

Marketing is really about linking up those who want to buy with those who want to sell. There may be a lot of fancy words and headlines but, to use the American term, that is the bottom line.

Most people have interests and we are addicted to joining groups - even well before the internet.

Community marketing is a very important way of getting your product before interested people and a few simple steps will greatly assist the success of your website.There is an important, fundamental shift in how content marketing works when you apply this community content promotion strategy: instead of just waiting for SEO traffic to “kick in,” you’re strategically attracting targeted traffic immediately.

This approach has many advantages that people overlook:

  • It helps build links so SEO traffic builds faster. (This strategy completely replaces traditional spam-a-bunch-of-people-with-link-begging-emails for us)
  • It gives you immediate feedback on how your content is doing. The time scale above could be months or longer. For many pieces, there may not be an SEO ‘tail’ so all your traffic has to come from something else.
  • It often attracts a different (and possibly more strategic) audience. If you can get in front of the right communities, this could be amazing for your business.
  • You oftentimes generate leads immediately vs. waiting months for traffic to pick up before you start seeing conversions.

When it comes to content promotion, I find that most content marketers / companies doing content marketing fall into two camps:

  1. They publish content and wait for keyword terms to start ranking.
  2. They do “active content promotion” which largely consists of sharing the blog posts you publish on your personal and company social media accounts — then call it a day.

While the former is a tried and true method, it takes a long time to see results come from it. For most companies, it takes 1-3 years before you really start seeing significant traffic gains and lead growth.

The latter just isn’t effective unless you have a significant, highly-engaged following on social media.

The idea behind community content promotion was that you could drive traffic in the short term by leveraging communities that have already been built with your target audience in them, sharing the content in those places– thus, attracting visitors to your site. The community content promotion method gets traffic, it helps build links, and gets your content in front of the right target audience, while simultaneously building towards the long-term growth of your blog (SEO).

However, with the recent shift, many of the platforms we use to do community content promotion are seeing diminishing rates of return and declining organic reach. To put it in another way, the results that we’re seeing from this method are becoming less and less.

It used to be that if LinkedIn group promotion started to slow down, we could shift our focus on driving results in the newsfeed. Or if the results from Facebook groups slowed down, we could shift our focus to independent industry specific communities (think Indiehackers, GrowthHackers, DesignerNews, etc.).

The macro shift is that all major platforms (Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and Twitter) are starting to limit the amount of links that you can share to content or they’re limiting distribution of links that are shared organically.

For example, on LinkedIn we used to be able to share a link and get 3,000+ impressions, now we’re getting the reach of under 1,000. On Facebook, group posts aren’t showing up in the newsfeed as much as they used to. On Reddit, more and more of the subreddits don’t allow you to share links. So on and so on.

For industry specific platforms, the engagement is slowing, people are gaming the voting system and bad content is rising to the top- thus driving away many of the engaged users who went there for a highly curated resource, or the channels that used to drive much of the results are dying completely (inbound.org RIP).

Rand Fishkin summed up a lot of my thoughts on what’s changing in his article called The Powerhouses of the Internet Are Turning Hostile to Websites (highly recommend reading it to get another perspective on a larger shift that we’re seeing), but I think the larger shift we’re seeing is that the platforms (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter) are moving from an obsessive focus on user engagement and user experience, to an obsessive focus on turning a profit. Therefore, the algorithms are changing to prioritize paid distribution and organic reach is reducing.

Know your customer

  • This sounds obvious but if so often overlooked. Remember your enthusiasm may not be theirs, so find ways to engage them. Let's spend a moment looking at this.
    • Customer Content Fit
      • Make sure your content fits your customer. If you are selling rose cuttings do not talk about anything else. People have come to your site to read about roses and things related to roses. They don't want to know about your herb garden.
      • As a famous marketeer once said, "Get out of the building." Go out and meet your potential customers and listen to them.
      • Don't rely on marketeers as they may be great with spreadsheets but may have little or no interest in your product as such.
      • Make sure your website fits your customer. Always. Never vary from this.
    • Come up with new marketing ideas by asking your customers
      • This is so often forgotten, but is a vital tool. Your customers know the answers. "What would make you buy this.. Why wouldn't you buy this...." They'll tell you.
    • Use Onsite Surveys
      • These are invaluable and people tend to fill them in. Email surveys require actually reading the email and then clicking on a link, and of course a list of customers. You can learn a great deal about your customer with a survey and we have our own really easy to use survey builder (and you can sign up for free!) - tdbsurvey.com. It is a great way you can approach getting customer feedback to find out various things like why your visitors aren’t purchasing or what your customers like about your product or service.
    • Go and look at Groups
      • Figure out what communities your target audience hangs out in (FB groups, LinkedIn groups, Reddit, industry specific forums, newsletters, what websites they read, etc.). Engage and build a rapport in those communities. Share your content in those places.

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