February 27, 2015

Why community & marketing should be best buds

Maria Ogneva of Sidecar, right, with Evan Hamilton of Zozi and moderator Irene Koehler (Photo by JD Lasica).

Target audience: Community managers, businesses, brands, digital marketers, advertising agencies, SEO specialists, entrepreneurs, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaHere, in the year 2015, the term community building no longer seems to command the heft and respect it once did. Today it’s all about growth hacking and social sharing and co-creation.

But, old school or not, community building still matters. For startups. For small businesses. For brands. For corporations.

Yesterday, we put on the 25th Social Media Breakfast East Bay in Oakland, sponsored by Lithium — I was the guest speaker at the first one, six years ago this month in Berkeley — and tackled the topic, “Secrets/Myths/Opportunities of Community Building.”

Evan Hamilton, who runs the Community and Customer Loyalty department at Zozi, which sells active lifestyle experience and gear, and Maria Ogneva (a friend), Head of Community at Sidecar, a community marketplace for people to give and get rides from their mobile phone, spent an hour discussing tricks of the trade.

Building a place of trust

“If you want people in your community to engage very deeply, you’d better build a place of trust for them,” Maria said.

And you can’t develop trust in a silo. Community building needs to have reach into marketing and customer support and events and other key departments and touchpoints.

‘Marketing really needs community skills, and a community needs marketing skills
— Maria Ogneva

“I have developed an utmost respect for marketing,” Maria, who also headed up community for Yammer, said. “Without marketing, running a community is really hard. They should be your best friend.”

Often marketing and community stakeholders appear to be at loggerheads. “But marketing really needs these community skills, and a community needs these marketing skills, to express the value of the community and why people should be in it, so we have a lot to learn as well.

“The best community people are actually well-rounded business people who understand customer lifetime value. They understand business models. So find a way to work with marketing, as long as it’s done authentically. Because ultimately you want to market your community.”

Hear, hear.JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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