On many evenings, walking down the street in uptown Kingston, NY, you’ll feel the sidewalk vibrating to the beats of music emerging from the BSP Lounge, a popular venue for independent contemporary music. If you happen to stop in on an evening when the audience turnout is thinner than hoped, you’ll find BSP’s marketing chief, Mike Amari, sitting at the bar with his laptop, personally giving people “love taps” on Facebook.
“I like having a post that’s kind of saying, ‘doors are open now,’” Amari explains, “especially for people who may already be out and are scrolling through their news feeds on their phone.”
Just down the street from BSP is the Kingston Arts Festival space, where the well-known opera singer Kerry Henderson will likewise be working Facebook. Kerry has learned that event invitations coupled with direct posts on the timelines of friends has had an enormous impact in drawing new attendees.
Also at Kingston Arts, Gloria Waslyn, the festival’s co-curator, has discovered the efficacy of taking photographs at every opportunity. If you stop by the gallery, you’re very apt to be photographed next to Henderson — and then find that photo posted and tagged on Facebook.
Facebook photos (along with the ability to tag people), are a powerful tool for community managers. You don’t need to worry about tagging each and every person — even if you’re only able to tag 25% of the subjects, you’ll still be drawing attention to your page. Meanwhile, people are able then to tag their friends or share the photos on their own walls. If you’re a smartphone user, taking, uploading, and tagging photos takes little time — and the benefits can be enormous.
Interestingly, many of the examples I’ve seen of effective local community management are coming from the entertainment industry. Perhaps, in many ways, they are the vanguard in local usage of social, as they can make use of events that people are interested in.
Bringing Online Offline
Deb Ng is the community manager for MyKidsAdventures and Social Media Examiner, as well as the author of the book Online Community Management For Dummies. I caught up with Ng recently and asked if she’s seen a similar shift in community management.
She said that while many brands aren’t really doing a great job with their Facebook and Twitter accounts, more and more small businesses are getting their customers to engage with them via social media. ”Like the local grocery store asking people to post photos on their Facebook page,” she said.
She also cited Ramon Deleon, a former Domino’s Pizza marketer, who used videos and tweets as a means of creating what he called a “WOW! Effect” with his customers. He would, for example, put favorite tweets right on pizza boxes.
“Communities are growing offline, inspired by what they are seeing online,” Ng added. “There are small businesses that know they should be engaging people online, but they don’t know that what they’re doing is ‘community management.’ Sometimes, it’s the honesty of new people that brings a fresher perspective. They’re just trying to engage their customers with fun things without even knowing they’re running a social media campaign.”
And Now For Some Social Advertising
I also spoke with Marty Weintraub, founder of Aimclear and co-author of The Complete Social Media Community Manager’s Guide: Essential Tools and Tactics for Business Success.
Weintraub noted that not many small and medium businesses really use Facebook well, but shared a great case study in which a regional business, Seagull Outfitters, made great use of Facebook advertising to create more engagement.
Prior to the Facebook advertising experiment, Seagull looked much like other small business on Facebook. “It was common for Seagull’s wall posts to reach a few more FB users than those who ‘liked’ their company page… just a few. It looked like a Facebook page but did not really accomplish anything.”
Seagull Outfitters used a combination of clever Facebook posts along with a bit of focused demographic segmentation, resulting in some pretty incredible increases in vital metrics in just one week. Their page likes increased by over 7%, and their “talking about this” numbers went up over 65% — with a weekly total reach that exceeded an increase of 432%!
As Weintraub noted, “Reach can be purchased — ‘talking about it’ can’t.”
Community Management Grows Up
In each of the cases cited above, non-professionals were able to gain some success without the use of complex social media management tools. Many used tools that are part of the social platforms themselves.
As more small businesses and nonprofits become proficient in social media, professionals will, of course, need to up their own game. We’ll increasingly be in a position of adding value as trainers and evangelists of best practices. We’ll also need to be alert and sensitive to the fact that some of those best practices will emerge from the businesses themselves.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.