Engaging Online Communities with Your Brand

Companies can increase the likelihood of achieving success with their marketing programs by more deeply engaging specific groups within their target market. It’s no secret that the most effective marketing strategies typically have a well-defined target. However, the proliferation of online groups over the past decade has created significant opportunities for companies to become more focused with their brand communication efforts.

In his book “Here Comes Everybody”, Clay Shirky details how the web has brought down barriers to group formation. Costs and geography, amongst other factors, have reduced risk and provided opportunities for people with extremely specific and unique interests to connect.

Consider the website Meetup.com, an online social networking portal that facilitates group meetings in various locations around the world. Founded in 2001 by Scott Heiferman, Meetup had 66,725 groups as of September 2009. Many of these groups are very focused in nature – for example, there are over 200 Pug Meetup groups. On a local level, what a great opportunity for a pet food store to become involved, perhaps organizing dog walking events so that pug owners can meet and connect.

Beyond Meetup, many companies are now creating their own brand communities online. Urban Reserve is an online and offline community for wine enthusiasts, sponsored by RJ Spagnols and Vincor (disclaimer: I am a Community Manager for Urban Reserve in Vancouver). Urban Reserve enables people to share their love of wine – with the enticement of belonging to a fun and unique community. People have the opportunity to connect online, and offline through wine tasting events.

There are many groups of people out there who might have an interest in your brand. What are you doing to connect with them?