Reading through the SPRINT Survey feedback, this comment - “I think FeverBee wants us to become part-time marketers” struck me as poignant.
My guess it refers to some of the outbound talks during SPRINT - probably the session on paid social, email marketing, and developing audience personas.
I’m keen to riff on it a little as it’s going to impact much of what we do going forward here.
No, we don’t want you to become part-time marketers.
We do want you to consider if there are principles from other fields that could be useful within your own work. Marketing (especially digital marketing) is certainly one of those fields.
One of the big challenges we face going forward is the era of cheap members, like the era of cheap credit, is coming to a close. First broadband penetration peaked in the Western world and then mobile gobbled up almost all the remaining time. We’re about to face a unique situation in the history of building communities; both the quantity of people and time which can be spend online has peaked (or come extremely close to it).
As a market matures, the competition for members will become ferocious (and more expensive). Traditional methods of creating content, directly inviting people to join, and improving your SEO won’t work so well. To stand out and attract a crowd your content will need to become better, your emails come from a trusted source, and SEO is anyone’s guess - but favours the most established. So if you run a big, well-established, community you might be fine. If you’re not, you need new tactics.
What we’re trying to do today is move us away from the traditional, repetitive, advice. We know we need to be nice to members and remove the bad stuff. Instead we want to ruthlessly borrow the best advice from other sectors and use it to build bigger, more engaged, and more effective, communities.
Paid social is a good example. Using retargeting, you can spend relatively inexpensive amounts (say £30) to get members who have participated or visited previously relevant discussions to participate in similar discussions. That has mind-blowing potential in turns of increasing activity, building habits, and perhaps even attracting newcomers. And we’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of this. You can even get exactly the kind of members you want to join and grow much quicker.
Many of the other tips were like that. They weren’t in the community field yet, but they certainly should be within our toolkit soon if we want to survive and prevail out there.
What we’re likely to see in the next 3 to 6 months is a big focus on how we can use tips from other fields to drive higher levels of engagement. I think it’s going to be a fun time but also one where I suspect we’ll get a lot of “this isn’t what I do” messages. My response here is relatively simple. It’s not what we’ve done before, but it’s probably what we should begin doing now.