Finding the Right Balance with Community Marketing
I don’t know about you but this paring of Community and Marketing has always left me with an internal ethical argument of should you or shouldn’t you? Until recently, community building in social media has always been in the organic stream bucket. Being a marketer that needs to measure ROI community building can be like brand building. Very hard to measure. I have not been able to wrap my head around tackling the subject again till now.
Big Water Case Study of online community building?
From 2010- 2018 I created Big Water Event Media (BWEM) purely by chance. It came about when I started bringing cameras to both of my kid's international freeride/freestyle competitions. I was inundated with requests from dozens of parents for footage. I began capturing their fellow competitors and publishing their videos on YouTube for a small fee. Just my car arriving at a ski resort resulted in dozens of email requests for videos. 2400 videos, A YoutTube Partnership, and 160K and counting views later I learned about the strength, influence, and new business model of the community I built.
What I learned from this experience has sent me down the path as a Digital Marketer. I was just a video producer until 2010 when I realized that producing good video is NOT enough. So many of my clients spent thousands of dollars on video production only to have 200 people see it. Yet, on the weekends I was producing quick simple video content seen by thousands every week.
Big Value Takeaways
New Business model.
Video production can be expensive. Having your kid's experience on the mountain captured and posted was more than most parents can afford every weekend. By servicing like-minded people I could sell ad space on the first 10 seconds of the video that got the cost to the parent down to a small convenience fee. This resulted in my selling more videos which meant more views. I was building a strong and thriving audience. A Community.
Content is king, consistent content is the currency of the kingdom, and the social platform of choice is its treasury. I adopted current editing techniques in order to put out 25-85 videos every week from Jan-April every year. Up to 400 per season and over 2400 videos total. The BWEM videos still get views to this day. One of the kids went on to a music career and his videos still generate over a thousand views every year. Every time Ross Tester Competes in the World Tour his videos get a few hundred views. BWEM Youtube Playlist to check out the 2017 IFSA North American Jr. Freeride Championships
The Power of Community
When the local high school lets you know your postings are causing mayhem every Monday after a comp, as a parent, I took notice and immediately held posts till 2:30 PM. When the same message came back from Bay Area schools I was blown away. In community building, you need to be open to change quickly in order to stay in front of problems. My community was parents and I was careful not to post kids' crashes, swearing had to be edited out, and I made every kid the hero of his own video. I had to develop an awareness of what direction the community wanted to go and accept that may not be the direction that I intended. This is what separates community marketing from paid advertising. You as the marketer gotta go with the flow.
I retired BWEM in 2018. A business depending on mother nature and the ever-changing corporate structure of ski resorts was a career I did not feel like taking on after my kids graduated. I did take what I learned about social media, content creation, and online marketing to build Big Water Content Innovation. Until recently my clients have not chosen the route of community marketing but have stayed in the paid advertising realm.
Now I’m getting ready to start up a couple of community-based streams.
Both of these clients have a lot to share with their future communities. They are passionate and believe they can make positive changes for more people than they can physically touch. They are on missions bigger than themselves and social media is a powerful tool to reach like-minded people. If I had set out at the beginning of BWEM with the goals of 400 videos and 50K views per season to make money I would never have ever hauled my cameras up the hill. It takes more than wanting financial gain to succeed in online community creation. It takes purpose. My mission for BWEM was to share the joy we had as parents watching our kids dance down the mountainside, arriving at the bottom with their friends hooting, hollering, and hugging each and every competitor as they exited the gate. My goal was to make each kid the hero of his own video.
What a journey. What a ride.
Reach out for a talk over coffee or a hike I give information freely. I only ask to be paid when I do the work. firstname.lastname@example.org
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