Originally posted at: SheSpeaks

Fences make good neighbors — even in the social media world.

Too many brands assume that the most effective way to market in this digital age is to use social media to post and tweet as many marketing messages as possible to the widest range of potential consumers across the greatest number of social networks. Spread the word to anyone and everyone, and hope someone believes enough in your message to create a connection and become an advocate influencer for your brand.

True, you will get some advocates through this method, but you risk having diffuse, low quality consumer conversations that are hard to track and sustain. Instead, consider the quality of your consumer connections if you have your brand conversations with a targeted group of consumers who are emotionally invested in providing value to you and your brand. You can do this through a forum of pre-screened members who are willing to give you honest feedback about your product in exchange for simply knowing that they can have an impact on your brand.

As Aliza Freud ,CEO of SheSpeaks said in an interview with eMarketing, “Brands should be facilitating and owning an engagement with consumers.” I think we marketers have gotten better this past year at the “facilitating” part through social media marketing, but the “owning” part now needs more attention.

It is difficult to own an engagement if there are no fences, no boundaries – especially in social media. Boundaries and filters used wisely allow brands to retain valuable oversight of their consumers’ experience of their brand through attention, responsiveness and back-and-forth conversation… especially when related to brand and product research.

Although these boundaries and filters aren’t free, they are well worth your brand’s investment. A members-only forum gives your targeted consumers a safe online space to share their opinions and recommendations about your product with each other and with you. But, to Aliza’s point, if you want these consumers to become brand influencers, you still need to actively own the engagement. You still need to create a trustworthy relationship with them. LISTEN to your consumers, respond to them and let them know the impact they have had on your product (You do let them impact your product, don’t you??). … HEAR them.

What you learn inside the fence can then become part of the message outside of the fence. A core set of influencers is a great place to build testimonials, stories, and other valuable social messages about the brand. When used well in social media, they’ll attract more influencers, who will want to create a deeper relationship with you. It’s a virtuous circle, all created by a little separation.

Just because you can easily spray your brand messages far and wide without specific targets doesn’t mean that is all you should do. Is it time for you to start building those fences?

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