IF I WERE A BRAND I would be full speed ahead finding where my customers are hanging out online; and I would be discovering who & where my brand “influencers” hang out, because of course influencers will lead me to my customers.
While big brands have the resources to apply complex analytics programs, sometimes just plain old ‘careful observation’ works in some of the more obvious scenarios….
When watching an online community carefully, you can soon identify the influencers; often you don’t need a Klout or Kred tool, though there are those who say @Klout is the ‘must have’ for brands to find their influencers. I’ve recently read comments that you can identify who the influencers are in just a couple of weeks, and while I agree, I am a researcher and have trained myself to know what to look for.
Twitter chats are an obvious starting place; with names that can signpost you in the right direction. The Interior designer chat community #Intdesignerchat is an excellent example, where 150-200 architects, interior designers, set designers, lighting professionals, multi-media experts, and successful artists hang out for a one hour chat (Tuesdays at 6PM ET). All in one place, at the same time Wow! If I were a design-oriented furniture, bath, kitchen, lighting, paint, you name it brand, I would be ecstatic. Over 8 million impressions in a one-hour chat! Wow, again! Compare this to tv advertising, where you just hoped your influencers and customers where watching the show the ad agency sold you on! And just like Neilsen ratings you have to know how to read & interpret Hashtracking stats!
You can actually watch the conversations about your product or service; and even join in! I am an enthusiastic participant in #Intdesignechat on twitter, enjoying exchanges with architects from Italy to Shanghai, and designers from LA to Atlanta; hearing their take on a variety of design and design business topics, and getting to know interesting & engaging design celebrities who guest-host almost every week.
Check out the DESIGN blogging conference DBC2012. The home design brands sure get it; it’s a live event featuring the online design blogging communities, a community of communities; think that one through…. Of course matchmaking architects and designers with the various categories of design brands they recommend to clients and customers is pretty obvious.
When I joined Pinterest January 1 (yes…. yet another mention of @Pinterest….) I noticed that almost everyone who followed me, had a ‘dream home’ and if it was not called a dream home board’, then it was still this by another name. ‘My home’, ‘for the home’, etc.
Interesting, I thought, maybe they’d like me to design their dream home? I am after all ideally suited for this…. With this in mind, I discreetly pin images from our one-of-a-kind designs. But not much interest except for my ‘spa style’… so maybe my design clients are just not on Pinterest. Good thinking. Every social media network is not appropriate for everyone; as many of you know I don’t do FB.
So who was pinning those dream homes, and where was the instant brand response? Remember, this was only 2 weeks after I joined. In my mind, West Elm was a good candidate, and wouldn’t you know it they have taken their Pinterest audience by storm. Obvious when you know how….
Lots has been written since then about West Elm, and how they are using social media, topping it up with pinterest. Though I use West Elm for cool accessories from time to time, my clients are generally not their customers. (I wonder if West Elm can tell that about me?) I am however an advocate, and maybe even an influencer, as I think they’ve done an outstanding job (as Ikea has), of affordable good design, and I often recommend them to friends and neighbors.
Maybe the luxury products networking community FANCY is where my architectural design clients hang out…. Too soon to tell, I’ve only been there a week.
When you do find the right community, it’s an easy sell. For over two years I attempted to sell, with out success, a brand new original style front axle which I removed from my vintage Chevy pickup soon after I bought it (I changed to a Corvette suspension). Sooo heavy, and cumbersome to store, it had to go! We tried CL 3 times in different geographic areas. No luck. We offered to sell it for 10 % of new cost, even to give it away! Nope. Nothing worked.
Then my design partner put a note on the HAMB, at a reasonable selling price. Within 24 hours we had 14 interested potential buyers! From all parts of the country! 2 days later ‘Fred’ (name changed to protect the innocent) drove 6 hours from Portland with cash in hand. So, it’s easy to sell your product when you identify the right community. In case you’ve never heard of HAMB it’s where the do-it-your-self hot rod enthusiasts hang out. Obvious when you know.
The other side of the coin is where brands build their own communities; attracting their influencers and customers via the content they create; there’s lots written on this this. Check out Content Rules? Didn’t want to leave it out, and anyway content rules whether you are attracting customers or sponsors. Now to the case in question, please help if you can?
The Woody Boater blog is evolving after four years into a Woody Boater Lifestyle Community. I visit and comment from time to time, and they have featured our Italian Speedboat and when featured they had one of their the best ever traffic days…happened twice.Woody Boater continuously sends traffic to our niche blog. Thank you Woody Boater.
So, how do you turn a successful blog into a lifestyle community, and attract name brand sponsors? Woody Boater has a presence on Facebook, and is headed to Pinterest, as I write. Will Pinterest be the right venue to fuel the online community? Are Woody Boaters or their cohorts on Pinterest? Will pinners who routinely pin architecture, dream homes, design or travel be so enamored with the Woody Boater lifestyle they will become instant converts; building the Woody Boater brand and community via pinning?
What does a “classic boating lifestyle” mean? Where should the community hangout online? Who are the brands most likely to sponsor them? Remember, they are evolving from nuts and bolts, sandpaper and varnish, to LIFESTYLE.
This is a fascinating potential success story; so I am asking my social media friends, who tell it like it is, to pass along some Social Media savvy to Matt Smith, founder & the Captain of the Woody Boater blog. Check out Woody Boater, Matt has already gone to the blog readership and is asking questions. What’s next?