Thursday, March 8, 2012

Developing an Online NetWORK

     Quality or quantity?  It's an old question that takes on a new dimension every time we ask it.  When it comes to membership acquisition and social networking, our knee-jerk response may be, "Quantity of course!  The more members I have the more popular I am and the more money I'll make!"  While on the surface this may seem to make sense, if we dig deeper we find that this, like many knee-jerk reactions, is not completely founded in logic or rational thinking.  Let us explore further.
   Say there are two companies who want to switch over from a traditional to a more internet based marketing strategy.  For the sake of humor we'll call them "Online Company Goofus", and "Online Company Gallant", and they each have their own way of measuring online success.  To OC Goofus, online success translates to as many people as possible on their social networking site, sending as many emails out to as many people as possible, and in short as much exposure as possible, by any means possible.  Their marketing strategy is to simply email as many people as they can, pester people to join their Facebook page, and promote the heck out of themselves.  They had moderately good luck with this strategy for a while and convinced a reasonable amount of new members to sign up for their weekly email updates.  After awhile though, everything began to level off.  Sure people knew about their presence online, but they weren't very interested in exploring it further..  People began ignoring their emails, and they began to find it harder and harder to acquire new members..  Frustrated, as a last resort, they tried to intimidate people into joining by bad mouthing other companies.  After awhile they just kind of faded away.
   On the other hand, OC Gallant had a very different way of doing things.  Rather than sending out mass emails to anyone and everyone in an unfocused, thoughtless way, they targeted people they thought would be interested in what they had to offer.  Even though they had fewer members at first, the members they did have were much more active and on average invested more time and money into their company.   Instead of spending all of their efforts promoting themselves, they used their social networking sites to listen to their client base and to take their needs and concerns into account. They developed promotions based on this information and launched a content marketing campaign to give back and allow people to interact on a personal level.   Rather than treating their clients like numbers or dollar signs, they treated them as members of a community and positive word of mouth began to spread.    Eventually, instead of fading away like OC Goofus did, their online presence developed a powerful root system, and a sustainable network.

The Highlights of Gallant's Strategy:

1.  Find your target audience.  Even though they may be smaller in number, they will be more active.

2.  Network= Community.  Networks aren't just numbers, they are people.

3.  Interact on a personal level.  These quality interactions make people feel positive about and supportive of your business.

4.  You work for your community, your community works for you..  Having others promote your business gives you a credibility that you cannot get from self-promotion alone.

   Big numbers fast don't necessarily mean a positive future for your company.  A forward thinking attitude about the big picture is required if you want to thrive in this shifting economy.  Online, your business is not an island, but a potential member of a balanced and intricate root system.  The closer you get to the seed, the better.

You can reach Elana with questions and feedback at

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