This is the second instalment of four blogs on developing an effective social media strategy. In my last blog Need a Social Media Strategy? Start thinking Community... I introduced the importance of building community in your social media strategy and the 5P concept of community. Remembering community is as only as good as its members, this blog explores community member typologies and introduces the motivated community member.
So you have decided which platform to create your space, you have a great branded area, and have a few followers/fans, what next?
Consumers Liking or Following you means nothing. I think that fan and Follower numbers are pretty much arbitrary. You could have 2000 followers but only 5 ever engage with you or 250 followers where 200 engage with you - which community is stronger? Which community is more likely to convert sales?
The smaller community.
The strength in social media comes with the relationship building. A fan with no relationship is not as strong as a fan with a relationship.
It is one thing to like or follow a brand but it does not mean you are invested in that brand. Consumers are fickle, it's about perception and status - they may like you because of the status your brand provides. Resultantly there are different typologies of community members.
Robert Kozinets (1999) offers a visual representation of these typologies. We move from tourists (also known as lurkers) through to minglers, devotees and finally insiders.
Tourists are said to lack strong social ties to the community, meaning that they will only have a superficial interest in the brand. Minglers maintain strong social ties but are only perfunctorily interested in the central consumption activity. This means that mingles are likely to build relationships with other community members but not the brand. Devotees are the opposite of minglers, being more likely to build a relationship with the brand but not other community members. Insiders will have strong social ties to both the brand and other community members.
We can then think of tourists and those fans or followers we don't engage, they only have a superficial interest in the brand. The other three typologies, mingler, devotee and insider, have an active interest in the brand and you are likely to convert sales from such members.
In the case of a motivated community member, insiders are those members. What about your fanatical fans, the avid brand fan? They are likely to be devotees but that can be a good thing in building a strong community. The insiders keep the branded social space running in your absence and are not too fanatical to put off other/new members.
Now, this does not mean that you can leave the space but the community looks stronger because of their interactions. It also means that insiders will be loyal to your brand and can inspire others to be through their interactions on your branded social space.
Obviously there is also the age old issue of control. However remember that insiders are actively interested in the brand, they do not want to damage brand reputation but be involved in making it stronger.
You need to ask yourself a question. Are you happy with the status thousands of followers provides or do you actually want to effectively use social media to grow your brand?
I believe you can convert fans and followers through from tourists, minglers, devotees to insiders. This progression depends on the community spirit and the relationship between the members to each other and you as the brand. My next blog will explore community spirit and moving community members through to insiders.