Community Engagement Marketing: 3 Things You Can Do Now

Written By Sterling Draper on April 3rd, 2017

The role that community engagement can play in marketing is bigger than ever before. Humans are wired for connectedness—and today we have the opportunity to engage in person and on a variety of online platforms. Engagement, however, goes way beyond an occasional post to your Twitter account, or a Facebook “Like” campaign.

Community Engagement” has a broad definition: it’s about communities moving towards change, with an emphasis on building relationships—not solely for revenue. True community engagement is an on-going, emotional, two-way exchange between real people.

Have you ever wondered, “How do I get people more engaged with my company to achieve my business goals?” Here are 3 ideas on where to make an impact.

Step 1: Reframe the question.

If you want to “engage your community,” reframe the question by digging deeper:

  • Who are the people to engage with?
  • Where is their attention?
  • How could this engagement make the community—or the industry I’m in—a better place to live, work and play?
  • What is the common goal or purpose?

You’ve got to be OK shifting from “What’s in it for me?” to “What’s in it for we?”

Step 2: Don’t assume you already know what your community knows.

Start fresh. Interact with your community, and better yet, get one-on-one. Ask. Listen. Learn. Then act on your findings. Create opportunities to do this in person and online.

Digital tools like Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, just to name a few, are great opportunities to engage in places where people are giving their attention. (Keep in mind, social platforms continue to change over time, and you have to stay current with what your “we” is interested in.)

Step 3: Respond and interact.

Once you’ve identified where to engage, you may feel tempted to simply “push out” information. Instead, foster these environments for conversation, collaboration and connection. Opportunities are everywhere to be more present. With digital marketing in mind, let’s assume you’re already on (or thinking about being on) some of these platforms. Here are a few ideas to immediately engage:

  • Acknowledge negative reviews on Yelp! and ask for a second try.
  • Thank people for unsolicited testimonials and other digital love on Facebook.
  • Answer questions from viewers during your Periscope broadcasts.
  • Answer tweet replies in Twitter. Ask questions to encourage sharing.
  • Invite the community to join you at events. Hang out.
  • Create meaningful opportunities for people to come together.
  • Ask questions in LinkedIn that can lead to conversation. Facilitate.
  • Discern what people find valuable and deepen your efforts there.
  • Connect the dots between in-person and online interactions.
  • Understand, manage, and fine-tune each of your community or customer-base communication touchpoints.
  • Share clear calls to action to help people support the mission and engage further.

Beyond these ideas, here’s a big picture checklist on the American Marketing Association website for making community engagement a more formal part of your marketing strategy.

This is a short-term action plan. I recommend that while beginning to take more action, you also keep these future steps in mind:

  1. Define your target audience. Check out our Guide to Defining Your Target Audiences.
  2. Develop a long-term marketing strategy.
  3. Determine specific ways to measure and evaluate marketing results over time. Our blog post “Measuring Made Simple” is a great starting point.
  4. Get comfy on highly engaging digital marketing platforms. Read our Going Local on Facebook Guide.

If you’re unsure how to spark interaction or assess how current efforts are going, we’re happy to brainstorm ideas with you. Call us at 864.381.8860 or contact us online.

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