Yesterday evening I had the pleasure of attending my first Invoke Labs Community Manager Forum where the focus was how to connect your community through the art of crowdsourcing. The speakers were the talented and lovely ladies Theo Lamb (who, coincidently, was my teacher at SFU’s PR program) who works as an online community manager, and Samantha Langdorf, Creative Director at Briteweb (a digital agency).
I wanted to share with you the biggest and most important takeaways I learned from them as they took us through several of their successful CM case studies. Here they are:
1. You need a kickass idea to inspire creativity.
And by kickass, I mean a seriously jaw-dropping, thunder-clap-inducing kickass idea. Given that crowdsourcing involves varying levels of community engagement (from an interactive website to a UGC video contest), you better have an awesome, original idea that will inspire and motivate your audience to do whatever your call to action is. And speaking of call to actions…
2. Your call to action should be clear and simple.
There is nothing worse than a call to action that is so detailed it’s over a page long and involves 10 different steps – that’ll only confuse and anger your audience, and may result in a few negative online reviews – definitely not what you’re after! Keep your call to action limited to one sentence, otherwise you will lose your audience’s attention. On a landing page or blog, a plug-in works great (think one sentence and a social sharing button) or on a social page a great looking visual works. Understandably there are lots of rules and regulations when it comes to contests and submissions so Samantha had a great suggestion to not only keep your content as succinct as possible, but to also separate your rules and regulations with tabs. Simple, but it works. So once you’ve cooked up a great call to action, how do you get your message out there?
3. Use existing social platforms to amplify your message.
Why do all the work when platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. already exist? Use them! Theo brought up a great point that the best way to get your message out and to reach as many individuals as possible is to collaborate and partner with other agencies, public figures and/or organizations. Collaboration works for large campaigns with massive pre-existing e-mail lists as well as for not-so-large campaigns that are starting off with a smaller audience. Also, leverage your audience’s audience. Get your contestants to do the PR work on your behalf (this works especially well if it’s a UGC contest that requires voting to win). And make sure that there are social sharing buttons that are obvious, large and easy to click. Just remember…
4. Make sure you’ve got the technical skills to pull it off.
The worst thing imaginable is just as you publish an elaborate landing page, website, video or social sharing buttons, the dreaded 404 Error Code appears (amIright?). So make sure you have all the coders, developers, social media managers, project leads, community managers and PR pros necessary to pull your project off without a hitch. And last but certainly not least…
5. Take your online campaign offline.
Connect your campaign to something physical, whether it’s a co-op grocery store, protected area, restaurant chain or a local clothing store. There needs to be a physical connection, as at the end of the day, your engagement online is only as good as the engagement you can create offline, no matter how kickass your campaign is. This is where a community manager comes in. They can help you create a long-lasting relationship with your audience, even once the campaign is over, by continuing to engage them online and offline through social media, newsletters, training sessions, Meetups, hangouts and other events, so that by the time your next campaign rolls around, your audience is significantly larger, engaged and ready to act.
This was my first Invoke Labs CM Forum and it certainly won’t be my last. It was an awesome event with informative and engaging speakers, and I would highly recommend attending their next series – I’ll see you there!
PS. Are you a community manager? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.