Eight Components for Social Media Success, #2 – Membership Identification and Acquisition
In my post, Eight Components for Social Media Success, #1 – Strategy and Business Objectives, we discussed one of the first two components for social media success. In this post, the second of the series, I explore component #2 – Membership Identification and Acquisition Plan.
Too often companies launch into social media initiatives knowing what they want to get out of it, but not taking a look at the targeted membership and what the target membership wants to get out of it. Closely related to the Strategy and Business Objectives component, the Membership Identification and Acquisition Plan identifies and clearly defines the target membership for the social media initiative.
- Target Membership: This where you define the demographics of your target audience. Is your target membership prospects, customers, employees, suppliers, partner, or a combination? Is it defined by other criteria such as interest, education, life challenge, family status? Understand who your community is targeting.
- Desired Interaction: You’ve identified your target membership, but what is your preferred interaction with them? How do you want to engage your membership? The answer better not be, “to tell them about..”, or “to sell…”. We’re talking about the interaction between you and the membership that’s going to lead to furthering the relationship between you and them.
- Membership Acquisition (Marketing) and Retention: The membership acquisition and retention plan will vary depending on the scenario of community being launched. Here are three examples of what I call community scenarios – each requiring a different approach to acquisition…
- A new community, where the membership might come from the public in general, or a population with like interests.
- A continuing community, perhaps already established on another platform, which indicates a migration of the membership.
- An aggregated community, where target members would be acquired from existing communities.
… or a combination of the three.
The retention plan is dedicated to asking the question, “How will we retain them as members?” A preliminary retention plan needs to be defined during early stages of planning, as it will be used as input to the closely related Content/Programming Schedule and Community Management Plans components. The simple answer is: if you provide Member ROI, retention should be fairly easy.
- Member ROI: More important than Desired Interaction, member ROI can also be stated as “What’s in it for them?”. Determine why the members should care about the community and what they are going to get out of it. The key is to engage and build relationships, and to that end, you need to provide a community that is of value to the members. I can’t state this strongly enough because many companies completely miss this and wonder why their communities are failing. If you don’t know what the members perceive as value, you can’t provide it.
- Competition: Research and analysis on what your competition is doing to gain target membership attention and engagement. This may include include taking a look at competitors’ hosted communities as well as their activity on external social media networks, including niche communities. The end goal is to determine how can you compete with other similar communities.
Of course, this is a very high-level list and there is much that goes into each. But, it should provide some guidance around the types of definition and planning required for the Membership Identification and Acquisition Planning component.
(Please keep in mind that these are the components for social media success, not the methodology or processes used to map out the strategy and plan. My methodology is a four step iterative process that will be presented in a future blog.)
As always, comments and sharing welcome!
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(For an overview of my eight components for social media success, please see Strategy and Planning for Online Community and The Missing 8th Component of the Seven Components of Successful Community).