Do Not Curb Your Enthusiasts

While one of the most-cited benefits of social monitoring tools is “reputation management,” it’s far from the whole story in social media. For starters, “reputation management” includes a lot of defense and reaction. How can we use the same toolset to go on the offensive? To create opportunities? To drive revenue?

We have been able to create success for our clients by using social monitoring tools to find smaller and more focused online communities – that is, enthusiasts. One of the cornerstones of good social media strategy is to find your target market segment, including your enthusiasts, and to take the conversation to where they already are. Well, that’s easier said than done for certain brands and products. Example: we have a current B2B client that has operated successfully for decades outside of the public view by working with various resellers and other third parties. They do not engage in traditional marketing beyond their website, and their product line is utilitarian enough that it does not generate mainstream end-user enthusiasm. Their quantity of mentions in the last six months, anywhere on the web, is zero.

So you can understand the challenges we’ve faced, from a social media point of view, on behalf of this client. Simple brand monitoring (the first step in reputation management) did not help us to find current and potential enthusiasts. Instead, we’ve searched for communities built around the activities supported by the product. It takes longer to sift through the noise, but the end result is that we’ve been able to discover small communities that are highly qualified for potential purchase. Engaging with the moderators of these communities has lead to positive product reviews, which in turn generate very positive results: significant spikes in web traffic from three different communities with bounce rates under 1%. To put that in perspective, here’s a quote from Avinash Kaushik (see step #3)

My own personal observation is that it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.

Really puts the 1% bounce rate in perspective, right? It means that we are driving very highly qualified traffic for this client and building relationships with communities that absolutely want to hear from us. Will we be able to repeat these kinds of numbers for every client? We’ll work hard to try, but what matters more, however, is that we are defining how we measure success and learning to make the most of our social media toolkit. Once discovered and engaged, it is not a long stretch to convert super-qualified audiences like these to actual dollars, actionable feedback, and more.

Quick sidenote: I want to point out that this client hadn’t done anything “wrong” in the world of social media and e-commerce. Rather, their business model and strong industry relationships created a situation that had not traditionally needed this kind of support to grow. I mention them today because they present a somewhat unique, almost laboratory-like, case study on how social media can support a variety of business models and objectives.

Although our B2B client is just getting started in social, today’s lesson is just as applicable to bigger brands. Community and reputation managers must use their toolkits to look for conversations about the hobby/lifestyle/problem-to-be-solved in general. Looking for specific brand mentions is not enough. Cast a wider net and look a little deeper. Like us, I’m confident that you’ll find many untapped enthusiasts that want to hear from you and get greater value out of your social efforts in the process.