You've just spent a lot of money to create a Lithium Community on your company's domain. You've done the technical work, and now it's time to start promoting the community and attracting community members. One mistake that new communities often make is in trying to attract everyone to the community, every user of the brand. This type of scattershot thinking is ineffective because what drives community activity is relationships, (between users to users and users to the brand) and untargeted messaging implies a generic, lukewarm relationship that leaves users uninspired.
For Support Communities, the targeting is somewhat straightforward: "People who use our product." But for communities that have more of a marketing focus, it's essential to put some strategy into how you will attract an audience.
What can you do to attract the right quality and quantity of users? Know who you want to reach.
Consider customer profiling. When you run an ad campaign, or launch a new product, you stop and think about "Who is our ideal user?" I suggest you do the same with your community. Lithium's Professional Services team offers great strategy workshops to get into the psychographic profiles of defining the value of the community to various stakeholders, and that workshop is highly recommended!
Another approach is to use traditional targeting methods like you'd use in any other area of marketing. Before promoting your community, spend some time generating 3 to 5 customer profiles that consider the following variables:
1) Geography: Where is our ideal user? Will the community benefit people in different geographies in different ways? Is your product or service geographically situated either physically or in its distribution or popularity?
2) Age: Will the community benefit people of a certain age more than others? What is the average age of our community members?
3) Occupation: Is our brand heavily related to a certain industry or occupation? Or is it a recreational/consumer brand? What does our target user spend 8 hours a day doing? How can community support their occupation or fit into their workday?
4) Income: How much money does our target have to spend on our product? Does their income influence their participation in the community? Consumer-driven communities may have super-users that spend a lot more time given they buy more product.
5) Gender: Marketing-based communities may be trying to reach one gender over another.
6) Marital Status: Is the community a better fit for married people or single people? How might discussions on the community differ among these audiences?
7) Purchases and Purchase history with the brand: What has the target recently spent money on? What is their purchasing history with the company's products and services?
8) political considerations: Conservative, Liberal, etc.
Two other things to consider.
First, as a marketing community, your target may already be consuming similar content elsewhere. If you're a retail brand, where is the target going online to consume relevant content right now? Get to know the competition.
Second, you want to get clear about the pain points your community will help solve. How does your community make your target's life better?
A sample profile might look like this:
Only by being clear about who you are targeting and the value that your new community brings will you be able to create focused, relevant, and engaging promotional messages that powerfully attract new users to your community.