Community Building Online: Five Places to Start

Students sitting in a circle on the lawn.

The final traction channel in the book Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares is community building. Many of the traction channels in this book seem to overlap and build on each other. But this is a channel that more often seems to stand alone. Community building is when you are purposefully fostering relationships and connections with your customers. This encourages them to bring others into your circle. An easy ma and pop, brick and mortar type example could include hosting an offline event, or opportunity for your customers to get together, bring their friends, and talk about how much they love your product, but what happens when you are an e-commerce or tech company that would like to take advantage of their community and help it flourish? Here are five online locations you can implement community building in a tangible and impactful way.

Reddit

Reddit is an enormous and ever-growing collection of forums where users can post about news and other content as well as comment on posts made by other people. The world of Reddit is huge and easy to get lost in. But, when used strategically, it can be a powerful community builder, especially through subreddits specific to your business.

In case you aren’t familiar with the platform, subreddits are the individual forums within the larger site. Subreddits are free to create and can play many purposes for businesses. For startups, creating a subreddit can help customers give feedback and connect with each other, helping the company grow and gain traction. For existing businesses, subreddits allow customers to connect with each other and members of your team, enter giveaways hosted by the business and simply chat about what they love (or hate) about the product or service. With over 330 million users, Reddit is sure to be a place where you can build a community for your business. 

Community on Reddit
Blog Comments

Similar to Reddit, popular blogs provide an online space for people to discuss specific topics that interest them. As mentioned in our blog post about SEO, writing quality blog articles can help your website show up higher in search engine results, ultimately leading to higher amounts of organic traffic, but this is not the only benefit of a good blog. Once a business establishes a blog that provides meaningful information to its readers and brings traffic to the website the blog can become a very powerful tool for community building. If users are finding value in your blog they are more likely to interact with you by leaving comments. These comments can then create conversations with different customers and with your team. Getting engagement can be difficult at first, but here are a few tips to hook your first few commenters: 

    • Ask questions in your article. Readers are much more likely to comment when there is a question for them to answer. 
    • Use social media to share your blog posts. Then encourage your followers to comment on the article instead of the social post. 
    • Talk about your readers or customers in your post. If something that is shared interests you and the community talk about it on your blog.
    • Respond to all comments when they first start to be made. This will provide value to those who are commenting and encourage future comments.
Pioneer Woman Blog

 

Wikipedia

While most millennials grew up being told that Wikipedia is not a reliable source for scholarly papers, it still proves to be a site that is read by many when searching the internet for an answer to a question. It might surprise you that Wikipedia actually doesn’t have any employees. Any knowledgeable person with access to the computer can create the content. This is the exact reason many teachers advise students to avoid using the site as a reference. The lack of proof that professional research has gone into a Wikipedia article is concerning to academia, but, for your business, this open-source information is a great opportunity to encourage community building. Having a Wikipedia page specific to your business can allow your current customers who are subject matter experts on your business to share information and encourage discussion of your product or service.

Trader Joes Wikipedia Page

Topic Specific Forums

Even though it’s hard to believe, forums still exist outside of Reddit! Creating a forum that allows your current and prospective customers to discuss, ask questions and give advice about your product, service or other topics pertaining to your business is a great way to create community. Hosting a forum allows you to directly interact with the people who post on it similar to how you could reply to a blog article, but it also allows for readers to communicate with each other on an even higher level. Another way to leverage forums is to comment and interact with customers in an existing one. Find a forum that has a topic that resonates with your brand and start a conversation with participants.

Amazon Community
Facebook Groups

Facebook is arguably the most popular online community and can easily be leveraged for your business, especially through the use of Facebook Groups. Here at Pintler Group, we love putting all aspects of Facebook to use for our digital clients, including the groups feature. Creating a group for your business is easy. It allows you to share posts, images and other pieces of content with the group’s members. You can decide if the group is private and invitation-only, or open to any interested parties. Consider your intended audience and create a group that creates value specific to these individuals. If you have multiple audiences you would like to reach, create multiple groups. This way you can cater even more directly to individual audiences.

It is also important to remember that these groups do not need to be all about your business. Try creating an open space where members can talk about various topics that relate to your business. Cast a wide net to catch anyone interested in the topic rather than only people familiar with your brand.  

Instant Pot Facebook Group

For more on community building and the other 18 traction channels, check out our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise and our YouTube channel.

 

Offline Events and Online Tracking

Offline events bring people together to learn more about or to support your business. They can be anything from large trade shows to local concerts or races that raise funds. Even small workshops with limited seats qualify. Businesses can host, sponsor or even simply attend offline events such as these to gain traction.

Businesses savvy in digital marketing often overlook offline events. But at Pintler Group we celebrate the good news that offline and online efforts don’t have to live in separate bubbles. In this article, we look at how digital efforts can take your offline events to the next level. 

 

Offline Event: Board Meeting

 

Offline Fundraising Event

Many restaurants offer sponsorship opportunities to local clubs and non-profits. Typically, the restaurant will offer to donate a certain percentage of sales on a specific day to the organization, but the kicker is that many times, the orders only count towards this percentage if the customer mentions the fundraiser or hands over some sort of flyer or coupon to indicate their involvement. Recently, Montana Council BSA hosted an event like this at all Buffalo Wild Wings locations around the state of Montana. Customers presented a flyer to have the funds donated.

To effectively track, the flyer lived on a specific landing page that email and ad campaigns lead to. The page’s analytics can provide insight into attendance and campaign effectiveness.

While the method of creating a specified landing page for a ticket, flyer or coupon that corresponds with an offline event isn’t foolproof, it can give businesses a better idea of who is attending the fundraising event. This information helps you know which events are the most popular. Additionally, it identifies the most powerful targets.

 

Offline Event: Concert

 

Facebook Offline Events

We’ve all been “suggested” an event near us on Facebook. The feature is one that is proving to be quite powerful in the digital marketing space. Facebook Events are great for both large and small scale events and allow for tons of interaction from potential customers or participants.  When a company creates a Facebook Event they are able to select the time and location, connect it to their business page, keep their followers updated on event information, promote the event and, most importantly for this article, they are able to encourage and track RSVPs to the event.

When someone indicates they are “interested” in or “attending” an event, Facebook shares that information with a person’s friends. Facebook will then remind all who indicated they were “interested” or “going” that the event is coming up. People that attend can also let their friends know when it starts. Not only do Facebook Events allow you to track RSVPs, but they also act as a great tool to promote your event by allowing participants to share with their friends in multiple ways. 

 

Offline Event: Fundraiser

 

Sourcing Online Details at Offline Events

Once the offline event begins, there are still ways you can leverage online, digital marketing efforts. One specifically powerful digital way to use offline events is to collect information such as email addresses during the ticketing process or even at the event itself. Event participants are opting in to experience your event. Collecting their email addresses can help you track the number of participants who attended the offline event, but also allow you to continue to target them with future digital campaigns. And highly specialized audiences are more likely than not to be qualified leads.

 

Want to learn more about using offline events as a traction channel? Watch this video.

 

https://youtu.be/i3a7CdvACYk

Learn more about the 19 traction channels and other digital marketing topic by listening to our podcast, Cutting Through The Noise, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Stand Out By Leveraging Existing Platforms

Neon sign that says #tweettweet

The term “platform” returns a surprising number of definitions. In marketing, it can refer to social media, podcasting, video, web, and more. The traction channel “Existing Platforms” alludes to how startups can leverage traction by integrating with platforms that already have a massive following.

The short explanation of this channel is that startups should represent their business on these platforms to get their content in front of existing audiences and be able to identify their ideal audience with better precision. The following is already on the platform. Take advantage of that pool and explore integrations with platforms that make the most sense with your business. This article highlights the platforms your startup should consider leveraging marketing efforts on.

 

Social Media Platforms

 

The History of Social Media Platforms

As of 2019, it is estimated that 3.5 billion people are online. When you compare that number to the total world population of 7.7 billion, it has quite an impact. Breaking that figure down more, studies have estimated that two-thirds of internet users are on social media. For those of us who can remember the early 2000s, the world first saw social media make its presence known in the form of MySpace. What started small in the early 2000s but rapidly grew created an explosion of new opportunities in marketing. 

While MySpace paved the initial pathway of social media, it was the introduction of Facebook to the general population that sparked immense growth in this industry. Originally available only to college students, Facebook allowed users to connect via digital space and share content with one another in a new way. Today, Facebook is a must-have platform for businesses to advertise on. In 2019, there are a reported 6 million businesses that have their own Facebook business page. With 74% of Facebook users checking in daily, there are minimal cons to integrating with this platform.

 

Staying Ahead of the Competition

However, startups should consider the stage of a lifetime the existing platforms are in. To really gain traction, Businesses only marketing on Facebook will not succeed. The ones who identified and were first to adopt new platforms are the ones who see massive growth. Early adopters are those who are early users of new technologies, products/services, or platforms before the majority of the population catches on. 

With this in mind, keep updated on growing platforms. The earlier your business integrates, the more you can stand out. Just keep in mind who your audience is and whether the platform makes the most sense. A business whose target market is restricted to an older demographic might not want to consider TikTok, a short-form mobile video sharing platform popular with a more tech-depended demographic.

 

App Platforms

Additional existing platforms to consider are app-focused. App stores like Apple and Android allow businesses access to an impressive pool of potential users. If your business has an app, consider the free strategy: feature a free version of your app to increase the number of users, then monetize those free users with in-app purchases or paid upgrade to a premium version. It’s important to get your app to appear somewhere on the charts, so push for users to share ratings of their experience.

 

Web or App Extensions

Another example of integrating with existing platforms is through web or app extensions. With web browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox, users can improve their browsing experience by downloading extensions. Usually free, these extensions create a direct portal to a business. Plus, they provide some kind of value to the user as a means of personalizing their browsing experience.

 

Grammarly

 

Grammarly is a free browser extension that analyzes in real-time your text to correct grammatical mistakes, provide clear messaging, and improve the quality of messages. It’s a built-in spell checker useful for all messages that are created within a web browser. Grammarly gains a lot from this extension. It receives access to the web browser’s existing audience, provides a useful feature, and drives users to its services, which include premium services.

 

Slack

 

Slack, a cloud-based instant messaging platform popular with organizations, features a similar type of method with its app extensions. Allowing for seamless integration with services such as Zoom, Google Drive and Obie, Slack has created an opportunity for businesses to tap into its existing user pool in a simple and easy way. An app extension with Slack is perfect for services that seek to make collaboration between teams easier.

With so many platforms existing to take advantage of, what are you waiting for? Take the time to research trending social media or brainstorm how to convert your services to a value-added tool. Finding the right platform can be time-consuming. But once tapped in, you won’t regret the time invested to continue gaining traction.

Check out this video to learn more about existing platforms.

Want more traction channel tips? Follow our YouTube channel and listen to our Cutting Through The Noise podcast for more content on these topics!

The Cutting Through The Noise podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

Business Development: Finding the Right Partner

Small toys shaking hands.

 

The phrase “business development” can be intimidating. After all, it sounds like something only big corporations dabble in. Thoughts of power lunches in power suits come to mind. But just because you don’t have an arsenal of sales executives and vice presidents doesn’t mean you can’t develop your business in a rewarding way. That is, after all, the definition!

 

Clothing Business

Know Your Goal

Let’s use the example of a fictional clothing company named Threaded. They sell online and have a storefront in their Texas town. In recent years Threaded has experienced the same pain point as other retailers: a drop in foot traffic. Digital marketing efforts keep the e-commerce business on fire but have yet to get people in the store.

The owners task their marketing agency with increasing store visits followed by setting a revenue growth goal. There are multiple traction channels in play: unconventional PR, outside advertising and viral marketing. But they decided on seeking local partnerships. Enter the business development traction channel. And a few baseball teams.

A Standard Partnership

This form of business development is as simple as it sounds. In practice, two entities work together to reach an established goal. Ideally, the partnership is to the benefit of both parties. The important piece is that each partner brings something to the table the other can’t execute on by themselves.

Athletic wear, including shirts and jerseys, compromises a huge piece of the Threaded bottom line. They also believe in community first business. Combining these two things leads them to a partnership with the town’s Little League.

 

Baseball Game

 

Threaded designs and produces shirts for each of the six teams. Each has different graphics and colors, but the consistent piece is the prominent Threaded logo. The unique value each partner brings to the table? The Little League gets free shirts they badly need and Threaded gets brand awareness on the backs of a hundred kids and coaches. They also get billboards in the various parks.

Is That Really Developing Business?

Of course! A common outcome of strategic business development is brand awareness. While this is a byproduct of traction channels like advertising, this is organic. And aside from production costs, free. Every time those Little Leaguers take the field parents and friends see the Threaded logo. Pizza parties after the games? Same. It’s the repetition that leads a person on main street pop into the store when they recognize the logo.

As we often talk about successful execution in one traction channel can lead to success in other channels. In this case, there are two examples. Specifically, since Threaded is giving the shirts to the league for free they are getting good press. From mentions in the newspaper to general word of mouth, they are benefiting from the traction channel PR. Without any additional effort! Additionally, images of the kids wearing the shirts start popping up on Instagram and Facebook, both from the players and parents. All of a sudden people not at the game are seeing the branding.

When pursuing a standard partnership as your way of developing business both sides must win. In this case, success.

 

College Football Stadium

Licensed to Sell

Threaded is in a unique position that it has multiple avenues to execute strategic business development. This second example is equally as effective and somewhat the opposite of the Little League venture.

Sticking with their athletic wear trend, Threaded decides to license the name and art rights for Texas A&M. In this case, you have one company – a university – who has a recognizable brand but wants it seen wider. You have another company – threaded – who designs amazing products but needs a recognizable brand to attract eyeballs. And thus sales.

Both the school and Threaded get free advertising out of this partnership. People are advertising the school just by wearing the shirts and hats. Threaded starts becoming the college’s “brand” and it’s hard to go to a football stadium or music festival without being flooded with their products.

Winners all around again!

If you’d like to learn more about the business development traction, specifically how to validate efforts through data, check out this video. You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel for additional videos and listen to our podcast for even more content!

 

 

 

 

Top Business Niches That Must Have a Podcast

Women sitting on the floor recording audio.

With the popularity of smartphones around the world, podcast advertising is projected to double by 2021. Podcasts are most popular among the 18 to 34 age bracket. They make up approximately 44 percent of its audience. Additionally, around 24 percent of U.S. citizens listen to various podcasts on a regular basis.

Different kinds of business niches all over the globe are now leveraging podcasts to place products, services, and information in front of their target audiences. Your business could use a podcast to attract more customers. The information contained in this article could be important if you are operating a business. Here are the top business niches that must have a podcast to get their market’s attention.

 

Podcast for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs and business owners can stay current with the latest news and trends in their particular market niche by listening to podcasts even while they are on the go. They can increase and update their knowledge about entrepreneurship, business management, financial analysis, local and international markets, and so forth. Podcasts are a boon to businessmen who don’t have much free time to spare. Here are some examples of podcasts for entrepreneurs.

  • The Digital Entrepreneur – here is a podcast that will educate entrepreneurs in creating and selling digital products and services profitably. This is a weekly podcast that provides listeners with insights and strategies from experts to help entrepreneurs build their digital business correctly.

 

  • Entrepreneur Stories 4 Inspiration – this is a podcast that is designed to motivate and help you build your business. Successful business leaders, many of them already millionaires, will give you lessons and advice on how to grow your business.

 

  • Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders – here is a weekly podcast given by entrepreneurs from Stanford University where they candidly share the lessons they learned in building and growing their businesses. This type of podcast can help entrepreneurs with over 70+ social media statistics proving that it is so.
    Podcast for Tech Gadgets

Tech gadgets are now part of our daily lives, whether we are at work or at play. New gadgets are being launched every day with new features and heightened capabilities. This necessitates further education of consumers. Podcasts are great venues for this continuous consumer education. Here are some samples of podcasts for tech gadgets.

  • Gone Mobile Podcast – this podcast provides information about the latest development in mobile technology. Resource speakers give in-depth knowledge about iOS and Windows as well as Androids development for mobile design and marketing.

 

  • Hands-On Tech – this podcast provides hands-on unboxings, previews and reviews of the hottest and the latest wearables, notebooks, smart home devices, and smartphones.Closing Day: A Real Estate Podcast
    Podcast for the Real Estate Industry

Many real estate websites are now incorporating podcasts on their pages. They must be taking advantage of the fact that 50 percent of all American homes are podcast listeners. That would be equivalent to about 60 million homes. These people, as well as agents and brokers, need tips on buying and selling homes and lands. Podcasts can supply that need. Here are some real estate podcasts available today.

  • Real Estate Coaching Radio – this podcast gets an average of 100,000 listeners at any time. It is run by the husband and wife team of Tim and Julie Harris. They are dispensing advice to real estate brokers and agents. The podcast also features advice from real estate pros and executives based on their wealth of experiences.

 

  • Modern American Realtor – here is a podcast that educates agents and brokers on the important things they need in their real estate careers. They also discuss other marginal issues that affect the real estate industry.
    Podcast for Nutrition, Health, and Fitness

Podcasts are a great way to encourage couch potatoes to get up and move. Most people are so busy that they forget to give themselves time to rest, eat nutritious food and exercise to stay fit and healthy. Here are some samples of podcasts that are geared toward making people active and healthy.

  • Motivated – here is a podcast that will guide listeners in navigating their health and fitness journeys. The tips given by the resource person is based on her weight loss experiences.

 

  • Diet Starts Tomorrow – this is a podcast where the resource person talks about her struggles on her way to losing weight and keeping a positive attitude at the same time.

 

  • 20-minute fitness – this podcast will give listeners information about the latest methodologies, technologies, nutrition, and science to help them stay updated in their fitness routines.
    Podcasts for Sports

Sports podcasts are a great way for sports fans to be in tune with the latest game, the latest news, and stats of their favorite teams. These types of podcasts are getting more and more popular these days. Here are some samples of sports podcasts that people are tuning in today.

  • The Fighter & The Kid – this podcast is for UFC fans. It is a weekly podcast that provides unedited and uncut episodes of interviews of well-known UFC fighters.

 

  • The Joe Rogan Experience – this podcast is hosted by comedian Joe Rogan and it features long-form interviews and conversations with MMA fighters, authors, musicians, actors, and other celebrities. Sports personalities in the program may include NFL stars, pro surfers, UFC legends and more.

 

This guest post was written by Lidia Hovhan from Omnicore Agency.