Harnessing the power of online communities

Microsoft’s Devin Moore and Tata’s Matt Sykes discussed a range of topics at our independent London Social Media Week event – see what they had to say:

Microsoft’s Devin Moore and Tata’s Matt Sykes discussed a range of topics at our independent London Social Media Week event – see what they had to say:

How do you harness the power of online communities? Are influencers worth the cost? And how do you measure success? It was standing room only at our London office last week as Microsoft’s Devin Moore and Tata’s Matt Sykes traversed these and many more valuable questions during an independent London Social Media Week event.

Text100 Head of Social and Content Luke Peters who led the panel says between them, Moore and Sykes have managed communities and audiences in their tens of millions. But it’s in how these communities are being developed, nurtured, and engaged with that the real learning can be found.

Read some key insights our wrap-up below or view highlights from the panel discussion.

The world of social influencers in online communities

The term ‘influencer’ has seen its fair share of contention over the past few years. We’ve leveraged their communities to build our own, but influencer relations now come with its own guidelines, ethics, and, more often than not, financial outlay. So, the first question to our panel: are celebrity influencer relations worth the increasingly high costs?

Both Moore and Sykes agreed that influencers have a role to play, but that role needs to have a strong and clear connection to the brand’s audience and values to avoid becoming costly noise. Remember your audience is smart. Not disclosing paid commercial content is a banned practice under consumer protection law so not being transparent isn’t even an option. But Moore says glaring paid influencer hashtags have the potential to damage brands. This is particularly true when the influencer doesn’t have a natural relationship with your brand and is just there to collect their cash. Top tip? Make sure you know why you’ve asked your influencer to work with you. If it’s simply ‘because they’re popular’ you should stop before you start.

Measuring success

How do you know when you’re onto a winner? Is it reach? Is it engagement? It’s both. Sykes and Moore say the vanity metric is reach. It will be big, but it bares little weight in isolation.

Recall is also important. It’s easy to pay a great content creator to create great content, but if the takeout isn’t your brand message then there’s very little point.

Social Media Week London 2016 at Text100 - online communities

Choosing the right social channels

While Moore concedes Facebook is now as certain as death and taxes, when it comes to choosing channels it’s vital to know where your audience resides. “Not every brand needs to be on Snapchat,” Sykes says. “If you have limited social resources, lead with what you know to be at least your demographics’ strongest engaged social platform.”

Also look to your competitors. What space are they occupying in the channel? And use your tools like Hootsuite or Sprinklr for more efficient community management.

B2B vs. B2C

At Text100 we work across the spectrum from B2B to B2C and straight-up consumer. But what can B2B businesses learn from consumer brands as they enter into social? Is there anything that translates? Sykes says one of his favorite lines comes from GE Vice Chair Beth Comstock when asked why GE runs TV ads on jet engines: “consumers don’t buy trains, but they might shape our decisions, work at GE, or buy our stock”.

Our takeaway: the boardroom doesn’t have to be boring. While there is, as Moore says, a need to draw on more quantitative data when marketing to a business, your audience is still human and there’s room for innovation – so watch this space.

Closing words on the future of social?

Building big numbers is easy but sustaining an engaged community of brand advocates is tough. Know your brand and know your audience. Don’t be afraid of creativity, but do be authentic because your audience is smart. In the words of Moore “always be honest with your community”.

See photos from the event here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/text100/sets/72157673082291420/

Social Media Week London 2016 at Text100 - online communities

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