Spike Jones: How to Create a Fan Community — live from Word of Mouth Supergenius

9:35 — Bergen Anderson introduces Fleishman-Hillard’s Spike Jones.

9:36 — Let’s talk a little  about this shiny object called social media.

9:37 —  Social media is both online and offline. But word of  mouth is what we’re here to talk about.

9:37 — WOM is the parent of social media.  Social media is only a tiny sliver of it, so we’ll talk a little bit about it but focus on WOM.

9:37 —  90% if wom happens offline.  We’ll talk about offline components of online communities.

9:38 — “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

9:38 — What does sustainable mean? That it keeps going. Fan communities, hold up, support and endure.

9:39 — You will sometimes have to endure your own community! You will run into influencers, divas, and all kinds of talkers who will tell you what they feel and how they feel it. And it is not all sunshine and roses. There’s lots of hard work involved.

9:41 — Susutainabiltiy means we have mighty oaks that will sustain any storm. Communities that last and last. But we have to start with acorns, little bitty things.

9:41 —  Communities take time to grow. They do not happen overnight. Member by member, bit by bit, they grow.

9:42 — Throwing up a forum and just hoping people talk is not the way to build a sustainable community.

9:42 — Communities need WOM and they need sustainability.

9: 42 — To build a community there are 5 things we need to know:

9:43 — 1.  Do your homework!

9:43 — You’ve got know your customer, not only think that you know your customer. Use Radian 6, or Scoutlabs to listen to what people are saying about your product and service. What do you do with that information? Listen and act!

9:44 — Be anthropologists.  Participate with your customers, live their lives. Live side  by side with them. Really understand what makes them tick. Learn how your product fits into their lives.

9:45 — You will step into it and find weird stuff, crazy stuff that you’re not expecting and don’t understand. People’s lives are weird…  it is not always pretty.

9:45 —  WD40 is a boring product, but there’s a fan community for WD40. People say all sorts of things about it–from killing wasps to spraying it on bait for fishing. They tell you how product fits in their lives. Now WD40 knows about their customers.

9:46 —  Influencers?  Spike doesn’t subscribe to the influencer thing. They’re highly connected people, but aren’t necessarily real lovers of your product. Real product lovers with passion might not be social media influencers. Social media influencers might talk for a day or two, but might be followed by zombies who don’t really pay attention to the conversation.

9:48 —  Spike’s advice: Go for people who are realy talking about your product, not a social media influencer. Go to those who care about your product industry.

9:49 — Who is your kind of influencer? It’s an individual decision for each company.

9:49 — 2.  Clocks and clouds.

9:50 — The Carl Popper theory that everything can be devided into clocks and clouds. In creating any digital community, think clocks and clouds.

9:50 — Clocks are the parts of our lives that are predictable, things that happen on a regular basis that we can count on.

9:51 —  In a community, our clocks are mechanisms.  Blogs and other tool are the clocks.

9:51 — So, what are the clouds?  The people!  They’re unpredictable and  will have good and bad days. They are organic and will respond in different ways. There are happy people and crazy people (Mel Gibson). They will tell you what clocks to put in place. Why go on Facebook if your fans aren’t there? Let them tell you they want it. Start with people and the tools will follow.

9:53 — 3. You’ve got to put some skin in the game.

9:53 — Ask your customers to put some skin in the game.  This is counter-intuitive to what compnies think.  Make it feel exclusive without being exclusive. People will feel special. Throw up hurdles–test the commitment of people before you pick leaders. Don’t let them get status too easily.

9:54 —  You have to promise to put skin in game, too. Share information and fully disclose everything. Show the bumps and bruises of company to show that you are a company of humans, and not perfect all of the time.

9:55 — 4.  Give your community a rallying cry.

9:55 — Give them something to identify, a badge of honor, something that says that they belong to something. “Don’t mess with Texas.”  Texas is a strong brand with lots of rallying cries.

9:55 — Patagonia is good at this. They stand for enviormental causes, not just luggage. When you buy from them, they have a cause. People want to be associated with something.

9:56 — Livestrong was a conversation starter and a badge of honor. What is the bage of honor we can give our customers?

9:56 — Intuit created a fan community around taxes! This scares the crap out of Spike! But his dad loves it and loves to talk about taxes at TurboTax InnerCircle in order  to make the software better.

9:57 — Maker’s Mark gives MM ambassador business cards.

9:57 — 5.  Stop, collaborate and listen.

9:58 — Listen!  90%  of WOM happens offline. You cannot read faces, have drinks online, etc. Online has to support offline and offline has to support online.  Talk to customers and find out how to work both together.

9:59 — Maker’s Mark allows people to participate in experience of dipping bottles in red wax. BMW allows people to test roadsters.

Q & A

Q: Heather from Full Circle (eco-friendly cleaning tools), “You said don’t start w/tools—we’re small, though, how do we find the people?”

A: Are you using any free tools to find people?  (They are using Facebook, mommybloggers). Ask these people to help with outreach to other bloggers, fans, etc.

Q: Paul from charity: water, “What’s good fertilizer to grow community?”

A: Tap into what community needs to grow. Let them take control. Ask them what to do offline and online to fit the product into their lives. Feed the community with questions about what company can do for them.

Q: Gordon from Myrtle Beach Holiday: How do you reconcile volume vs. real community?  How to reconcile this to client?

A: Geno Church will talk about this more.  Numbers should be kept purposefully small. Don’t promise a big number. Start with a small number and make them feel like a club. Show the company those who are passionate and talking. No easy answer.  But show them who’s engaged—because those are the talkers.

Love this live coverage? It’s all thanks to the amazing Tish Grier.

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