A friend recently contacted me regarding a new product related to weddings which is aimed at the Greek market – at least to begin with. In order to find low cost ways to get the message about the new product out there, she asked me ‘where can I find blogs and chat rooms related to weddings to tell people there about our product?’. I started replying to her email but it grew too long so I decided to make a post out of it.
First of all, I think that they will be hard-pressed to find wedding-dedicated sites, chat rooms and blogs. I think very few people are so obsessed (even for that issue) to set up a blog for it – unless they are professionals of course. That will probably be especially true in the relatively small Greek online world. I could be wrong of course, so if anyone knows any wedding-specific sites, feel free to help my friend by sending them as comments please.
I think a better way to answer her question are the following action items.
A. Allocate a couple of people at least – depending on her team’s resources – to have the additional role (apart from whatever else they do) of ‘community manager’.
This will involve them creating accounts in high traffic rather than wedding-specific sites with communities. These should be easier to spot: even Greek traditional media companies have a community around them and their brand is strong enough to attract attention. Newspapers, free press, magazines, radio stations all have fora with considerable traffic – some better than others of course. In fact, they will be spoilt for choice – a good criterion will be to choose those brands that are aimed for the particular target group (age, sex, location) they are interested in.
Then these people should engage with the community. Not just by spamming them with details about their product but by being active in it and contributing. By that I mean to treat their project and their participation in their forums as if they were doing it for themselves. They should take it personally and in essence they should because it’s their project. Practically, it means to answer questions people make, comment and reply on people’s posts, upload material (links, photos etc) that the community might find interesting or useful, form connections with other members etc. All this could and probably will be totally unrelated to their product. It is what will make them valuable to the community though. And being valuable will mean they will be heard whenever they are promoting their product.
Their affiliation with it should be clear and honest (links in their signature and their profiles) and of course whenever there is an opportunity they should promote it. But it shouldn’t be too ‘in your face’ either: it should be first about the people and the community (as any random person would participate in the forum) and then about the product – not the other way around.
I guess all this requires a lot of work and as such a certain enthusiasm about their product – and I don’t know how readily available that is to everyone. But I think that’s the way to go about it if you want your product to grow organically and from the bottom up. (It also helps if you’ re solving a problem and doing it right, of course.)
B. Some kind of online presence should also be set up. A blog about that product run by those particular managers is also a standard idea – and has worked in the past (see for example the Toyota Auris blog). A twitter presence will also earn the venture good karma – and the related publicity of course. Plus, it will help when the product goes live as the team’s “ear to the ground” to hear from their customers and improve it.
C. If we’re talking about a low-budget promotion and if the product allows it, a few ‘invites’ could also be given out to normal people to use it and document their experience. The previously mentioned blog is the ideal place for that documenting. ‘Normal people’ could also mean of course some bloggers that also fit the target groups in question. Finding those bloggers is an issue – especially those that generate lots of traffic at their sites – however aggregators (like SYNC) or simply spending time on communities could quite possibly reveal them. Alternatively, twitter users could be invited to post about using the product. Finding those that fit the description is perhaps a bit easier (after all Twitter is more contained than the whole blogosphere).
D. Facebook is also another option – although that might require a bit of spending. A fan page created by the community managers might go along some way especially if some budget is allocated in promoting it (something which Facebook supports relatively painlessly). That might be better money spent since in Facebook you can better target your audience.
However, all this translates in an active and (perhaps too) personal involvement on the part of those employees – e.g. Twitter accounts may be disposable but Facebook ones are not that much. Plus, techniques like this take up considerable time – both from someone’s busy schedule and before they gain traction. And above all it’s an experiment that may fail in a number of ways – and one for which it’s hard to measure its success. But if it works, it is likely to make an impression.tags: marketing
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