Tools for Cross-Platform Community Activation [Part 1]
I’ve always enjoyed experimenting with different marketing tools and platforms.
I like to analyze them back to back and see which are most efficient at helping me with any particular marketing objective I have at a given time.
Community activation has been on my radar for nearly three years now so I decided to write this article about some of the tools I use to engage with various audiences and the roles each of them play.
Keep in mind that this isn’t a comparison article. The tools/platforms I want to talk about are in many ways complementary and work better together than on their own.
Specifically, I want to address Zoom (webinars), social media (primarily Facebook and Instagram, including Facebook groups), email, messenger chat groups (whatsapp/ telegram) and more recently, Clubhouse.
Before I start talking about how to use those tools together, I’ll address a question that I anticipate some readers will have:
Why not just focus on one platform and get it right?
Every tool, every approach to keeping your community active and engaged has both advantages and disadvantages. Each works very differently from the other, it helps with a different purpose so that’s what I mean when I say they are complementary and that they work best together.
Being active online is one thing, but building a lasting relationship with your audience is a little more complicated (and also more valuable form a long-term business perspective).
You have to first take into account what people’s digital behavior looks like and that if you’re working with a wider audience, the behaviors will be different from one subgroup of your audience to another.
This is why it’s important to cover multiple bases. Some people will prefer one type of activity or content, other people will prefer another.
So… what kinds of community-related objectives can you accomplish on each platform?
Below I’ll break down what key objectives each type of tool and engagement activity can accomplish. This isn’t a comprehensive list so much as my list of go-to preferences. In Part 1 (here), I’ll talk about Facebook. In the next parts, we’ll cover the others.
Facebook use-cases for community activation:
Facebook is a good venue for awareness and quick lead generation if you’re using ads.
In terms of actual community engagement and growth, Facebook groups work rather well for me today but then again, Facebook is known for its overnight changes that have wide-ranging impact on its users and which are often made without much warning or consideration for the negative effects it can have on businesses.
This is why I don’t really like Facebook, even though I use it quite a lot. It’s also why I’m always thinking of how can I “back up” the community I’m building or engaging with by having a way to stay in touch outside of Facebook too.
It’s not so much something I use for business or conversion-related objectives but they are good for creating a sense of community among your users, and giving perspective related to the number of users which are actively engaged with what you are doing and providing.
You can also use it as a way to quickly solve other smaller, or ad-hoc business objectives such as seeing how people will respond in a short survey (or poll), running a quick Q&A to see what your audience is thinking about, what challenges they may be having or where they’re not clear on a part or feature of your business.
I wouldn’t rely on Facebook groups for promoting products or events because they are infinitely less efficient (in my experience) than email campaigns or paid promotions.
Private Facebook groups can also be used as a premium perk – a community exclusively available for your paying members/ users/ subscribers – what have you.
They are easy to set up and relatively easy to manage so they can be a good option for this reason. A place where your VIP audience can more easily get in touch with you or your core team and have a discussion about your product or business.
Now that I’ve highlighted some of the benefits, let’s talk about disadvantages too. One thing I don’t believe Facebook does very well at all is helping you build brand loyalty.
I believe that every business should aim to develop it’s own core community – a community or group made out of your most loyal or engaged users or customers.
Developing a relationship with this group that feels personal and real can help your business in so many ways as you grow. This applies both to small startups as well as large companies.
But if you ask me, Facebook isn’t a great place to build real relationships between brands and customers.
For this goal, I think that in-person events are the most valuable tool, but since that isn’t always possible (especially in the context of a pandemic), the next-best-thing are digital events, of course.
I like to break digital events into two broad categories: networking-focused events and learning-focused events (or webinars).
In Part 2, we’ll talk about networking versus learning focused events/ webinars and the tools I like to use to organize and host them.