When the Weebly folks reached out about contributing an article geared to the non-tech set I jumped at the opportunity to explore about how community lessons may be valuable to brick and mortar businesses. (Admittedly, my purview can be a little tech myopic.) The post below highlights those principles that I believe are universal to creating a passionate, thriving following.
Love to hear your thoughts on the topic in the comments sections.
Forget about the lamestream. Find your niche and own it.
When people have to decide between many products that have similar offerings, how do they choose? They go with the one that most resonates with them. Appealing to the masses often means that you’ll have to dilute the unique character that could give your business an edge. Instead, play up these parts of your brand personality and find a niche that appreciates it. Go where they live on the internet, join the conversation, introduce your product, and reel them in. Fitness app Fitocracy recruited their first two hundred users from Reddit and now boasts over 1M users. Leverage existing communities to help you grow.
Give your community purpose.
Since 2008, Tony M. has written over 1,700 detailed accounts of his experiences at local businesses, averaging a new review on Yelp nearly every day. “I like being the guy who knows the hot spots around town, and I hope that people benefit from my reviews,” he explained to me during a conversation we had when I worked for the company.
Note that Tony did not mention how positively he felt about Yelp; what he spoke about was his aspirations to guide others and how he felt about himself as an active writer. Yelp realized this early on and built many features that let people share their thoughts and thanks for others’ reviews, ensuring that contributors felt recognized and appreciated. Deep connection and loyalty to a company is founded on how they make us feel about ourselves.
You may recall the 600-lbs block of ice dropped in front of the entrance of the 2010 PayPal Developers Conference bearing the words “PayPal freezes your accounts. Unfreeze your money.” You can imagine how many diehard fans WePay earned that day.
Your efforts needn’t be so buzzworthy, either. Consistently delivering on a unique value proposition is often enough to set your company apart. On Amazon’s initial success, Jeff Bezos notes: "The thing that we did early on is that we made it very easy for people to find very obscure products. If you're not doing something that people will remark on, then it's going to be hard to generate word of mouth."
Foster a shared experience.
Do fuzzy pink mustaches remind you of anything? If so, you’re probably familiar with ridesharing app, Lyft. Getting into a Lyft, passengers hop in the front seat and say hello to the driver with a fist bump. Director of Community, Emily Castor, says these norms and rituals are intended to make both parties feel more comfortable, and also scale organically, creating a consistent, inclusive culture.
Have you noticed any interesting interactions or reactions of your customers? Supporting these practices can foster connections between people in your community and add a unique dimension to your user experience.
Make it easy for people to spread the word.
Marketers are all a-buzz over the K-factor. This refers to the number of people your customers successfully refer to your business. These advocates drive free, authentic word-of-mouth marketing to their friends and family. As personal recommendations are the number one factor in influencing purchasing decisions, there is no question that this affects your top line.
Dropbox credits much of their growth to their two-sided referral program: invite a friend and both benefit from free usage of the product. E-commerce companies can use free tools such as Curebit to launch these programs in a jiffy.
I hope these tips serve you in creating a cult following for your business. Keep me abreast of your progress!