As I gear up for a video shoot this afternoon, I’m starting to think more and more about what it means to build a community. Everyone throws the buzzword “community” around but let’s be honest it’s hard as hell. If you don’t have millions of dollars to burn, or hundreds of thousands of followers, how do you even start? We’ve done a pretty solid job with CROSSNET, but there’s always room for growth. Here are some of my favorite community building ideas:
Last October we offered a really charming, good looking volleyball player with a solid following to be the face of our Youtube channel. We were going to pay him roughly $3500/month to shoot us one video a week and to help build up that channel. It didn’t work out because of logistical challenges, but now that I write this, I really think this strategy would play out really nicely for CROSSNET and you can translate it into whatever works for your brand:
A) Youtube - Athletic, adventurous, fun micro influencer. Has to create engaging, funny pieces of content that people would actually want to watch. These videos then get put into the paid funnel.
B) Tik Tok - Attractive, gen z girl or guy who is crafty with a camera and is hip on all of the social trends. We’d want them to be able to create at least 4-5 pieces of content a week and for customers to really start to associate this person with the brand. Manscaped has done an incredible job with this. We actually just hired for this role and it cost roughly $1500/month
C) Pinterest - Mommy blogger. Have her showcase how she plays outdoor games with her children. Gets her kids feeling like kids and back in the backyard, off their phones. I remember when one of my best friends fell like 10 feet from a tree when a branch snapped when we were playing manhunt. I really get scared that my kids won’t actually go build a tree fort in the woods, like that’s a real concern at age 29. That’s sad.
We’ve been using Postscript for the past two years and absolutely love it. The company is just so damn responsive, holds monthly account meetings with us to give us best practices and advice, and just genuinely cares. I’ve been through a handful of SMS providers and they have been leaps and bounds the best. This year our goal is to get SMS revenue to be anywhere from 5-10% of our eCommerce business. How do we do this? Create conversations with your current and future customers!
Step 1: Staff your Postscript account with a customer service worker, founder, or marketer. During busy times we actually have a sign up sheet where employees sign up for hours to be online to respond back to our customers. It’s like I’m back scheduling a shift at my college cafeteria job.
Step 2: Send out a text saying for the next hour “Chris Meade the founder of CROSSNET will be answering any questions you have! Confused about the gameplay rules? Want to create a tournament? Bored and want somebody to talk to, just text back and say hi.”
Step 3: Create conversation, create excitement, funnel them back to that FB group. Find unique angels that work within your company. For example, my constant talking points are entrepreneurship and brand building so customers who are interested in that can talk to me about that. Our other founder Mike is an engineering and product nerd. I’m sure we have thousands of customers who have wanted to create their own backyard game. He’d be awesome to have on the live chat for a bit fielding questions.
Step 4: I love the Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary V. It was one of the first business books I ever read and it taught me that you constantly need to give your customer an amazing experience. Give, give, give, and then you eventually you can take. Two examples that come to mind are you give your customers fun, engaging experiences and eventually hit them with $25 off for the next 30 minutes or I continue to put out an amazing newsletter and then in six months I say “Hey each of you I’m going to start charging $5 per month.”
Lets be honest. The coolest thing about doing collabs and partnerships is the opportunity to earn new customers from the brands you are partnering with. Ask for lead lists, create collaborative sms/email giveaway opportunities, cross-promote.
I have found that the customers who are willing to entertain your brand from a cross-promotion are much more apt to join your community because they were engaged in the partnered brand’s community.
You want to find good people like them! Not Debby who won’t email you back after you hit her 5 times when she leaves you a two-star review.
Although a much larger brand, MadHappy does an incredible job of creating popup shops where thousands of customers line up in pure excitement.
I don’t know the guys over there well, but I could only guess the first time they did these they were praying that just 50 people would show up. You gotta start small, you gotta constantly show up. Don’t think “I can’t have an in-person event, because 200 people aren’t going to show up.” Just get started. Figure out what works, what doesn’t.
In-person community events are going to just be like your Shopify store. You didn’t get thousands of customers off the rip, it took time, practice, and dedication. Create the event, keep costs low, and keep having them.
That’s how we’re building the sport of CROSSNET out.
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