Looking after the community – how I deal with UG content

As part of the communications strategy for the website I manage we decided that we simply must build a community on Facebook –  from a branding perspective and a social commerce perspective (we have added a commerce plugin to our page) it looks like the ideal channel to build our community and engage with new audiences – easy.

The initial content which we uploaded was fundamentally a bit of broadcast about news products and ranges, mixed in with valuable content such as buying guides and how to guides. I wanted to get to the point where if we posted new material on our Facebook page our ‘Likes’ (ers) will engage in debate and comment to start creating earned media content for us. I essentially wanted our Likes (ers) to be writing our content and creating links for us.

How did we go about this? Simple, I offered an incentive start the ball rolling.  A competition was launched in which the ‘Likers’ (I’m fed up of writing Liker (ers)) post anecdotes about days they wished they had a taken a Duvet day and stayed at home under the duvet. The winning post, chosen by us, would win a duvet – simple. I then promoted the competition using Facebook adverts and via Twitter.

I started to receive posts on ‘Likers’ about spilling coffee over colleagues and such, but I also received posts which I was a little uncomfortable with on our page, posts describing bodily functions etc. I was put in a conundrum; as an advocate of Social Media I wanted to keep the posts live – after all this is what our community want to share and to be honest they weren’t offensive. Or, as a Brand leader to I protect the brand and remove all of this content? I have kept my own counsel on this but have decided to keep the posts up. If I receive complaints or they offend anyone then I’ll review the situation. My rationale is that it would go against I believe is right about Social Media and the move towards open and transparent brand communications. I want to encourage openness and feedback from our customers and our community as well. If I start removing inoffensive content which isn’t ‘On-brand’ and approved I’ll lose any trust from community. I hope most communicators feels the same.

The would be the same if a ‘Liker’ or a customer posted negative content about our products or service. I’d hope that we’d be able to resolve the situation in public and move on, leaving both the user happy with the experience and a public trail of how good our brand is at dealing with complaints and issues.

It might be a good idea to bullet point my thoughts on user-generated content and how to handle the unexpected;

  1. Like a boy scout – be prepared
  2. Have Social Media guidelines ready for everyone
  3. Think be you act on any content – always take a look at all potentials avenues
  4. Engage with the User don’t just delete comment and not find out more about the users motives
  5. Amplify succesful interactions

Most importantly remember if customers fans are not posting negative content about you in your environment, they sure as hell will be in an environment you may not know about.

Why are we here? Social media steps to an immersed brand

Social Media Steps This probably should have been the first post of the new blog theme. But after having been to a session at Social Media Week London #smwldn, I thought that I’d come back and explain what the brand expects to get out from my work in the social media space. I’ve touched upon some individual channels and what activity I’m doing on those already here, but I just wanted to clarify the stages of the strategy and how the content will evolve as more people engage with the brand and ultimately (hopefully) purchase from us through these channels. Each stage is step nearer to being an immersed brand – the social brand’s ultimate goal.

Clearly the overriding objective is to sell more products. No one is arguing that. To reach that end-goal I need to increase brand awareness, build TRUST in the brand, find advocates and position the brand as the come-to brand for advice and knowledge. so here’s how I see the our strategy unfolding;

Stage 1 – No social capital/No engagement

Objectives: Build audience, find advocates,

Content: Advice, special vouchers, soft positioning statements such as music from you tube etc, new products

Measurement: Increase in ‘Likes’, Followers and amount on conversation on-line mentioning us (the brand).

Stage 2 – Small audience/small engagement

Objectives: Continue audience building/start selling products to this audience

Content: Advice, special offers, new products, sale periods, encourage feedback

Measurement: As with stage 1, but with the addition of sales reports from analytics.

Stage 3  – Active and engaged audience

Objectives: Manage and active community and reduce the steps the audience needs to final purchase

Content: Encourage discussions about our products, encourage debate, new products, find VIP’s

Measurement: Social influence on the topics and amount of sales generated from social media activity.

There you have the three key stages in my social media strategy, obviously these are pretty flexible and a lot of the content strategy will cross through the stages. I’m hoping this strategy is pretty obvious but if you have any suggestions on any of this please do let me know.

Facebook Strategy – Build Audience

Social BrandIn the previous post I talked about why we are taking Linen House into the social space and how I need to take a brand from zero influence or social equity to a brand with, well at least some.

I mentioned that the Facebook page was built and I paid for ‘likes’ on our page to build up a base of ‘fans’ even though I knew these ‘fans’ would not be engaged and probably would never buy from the site at all. However these ‘fans’ did start ‘like’ ball rolling and genuine fans have started liking the brand now. Phew.

However this post is about how I see Linen House using Facebook as a social communications tool. Firstly and still, the overall objective of this phase is to get traction within the area and collect as many engaged fans as we can. The more fans we have the chance one of offers or a post about new products will reach the right person or group of people. Brand Positioning plays an important part of this phase as well as we want to collect the right sort of fan – our right sort of fan (on this channel) is a woman aged between 28 -40, disposable income with kids (always good as an impulse buy), probably reads the Telegraph or Independent (we are active in that space as well) with an interest in home and interior design.

So how do I get engaged fans?

I went about promoting the page within Facebook to an audience as close to this as could target using Facebook’s basic profiling options. The first campaign I’ve have running is a soft campaign inviting users to ‘like’ Linen House so that they would receive all of the latest offers and information. At the time of writing the campaign is in its infancy so I’ll report back on the success when its run it’s course.

Secondly I organised a competition. The competition will hopefully spread and increase the amount of the fans we have as well as generating content on our page. The idea is that users share the experiences of a day from hell a day where they wished they’d stayed at home and taken a duvet day – geddit?. The best entry (as chosen by us) would win a duvet. This was posted on our wall and will be re-posted every week until the end of the competition. Hopefully it will be shared amongst our existing users.

I doubt it will, given the method they came to the page. I have started advertising on Facebook (same audience as above) with a different advert. This advert promotes the competition and encourages entries. This was activated today. I will report back on how that goes.

The competition was also announced on twitter using the Linen House account and re-tweeted using my own account. The blog will be used but currently I can’t get to the dashboard. Web developers!!!

Eeek – What about content?

Right, Content is still king, I decided to feature our more popular duvet cover designs as wall posts and position ourselves as a trendy linen shop with a stellar brand selection,  my research shows that most people come to the site after entering a brand name on Google. Previous posts were pretty much educational pieces around our collection of ‘Knowledge Guides’. I thought I’d use the designer brands and high quality images as a way of piggy backing our brand onto brands such as Orla Kiely , Terence Conran and Peter Reed so hopefully aspiration audience I was looking to target would feel comfortable with our offering.

A big decision was whether or not to use the logo or not. I decided against it. My reason was that the users could probably identify with the images I used more than a logo they had never seen. The main image will change with seasons and fashions. I will use the Linen House logo for news update and vouchers giving the audience a sort of recognition image which will signpost our wall.

I’m not going to put voucher codes on the wall for obvious reasons (they will appear on twitter though) and apart from news the only push we will give is when we start and end sales. I don’t want this to become a voucher code depositary.

The content strategy in this phase will be to add aspirational posts such as; designer duvet covers and Hungarian Goose products we have available mixed in with guides and brand announcements. I also wanted to add content which would give the page a human/softer element. This could be bad practice but I added (infrequently) music videos from You Tube I’m not sure about this as at this stage we don’t really have a brand as such and most of our audience like us for our products (those which came organically). I’m debating this idea. I think a company like Joules or Kew that have active communities could use this kind of media to engage their fans I’m pretty sure we can’t at our stage.

So there’s our simplified Facebook communication strategy. I will continue to keep building until I feel like I have a brand. Any comments advice are warmly received.

The brand + the start

Linen House logo This is where I start. We set up www.linenhouse.co.uk half way through 2010 and after a few months of fumbling around and operating with a poor site we have finally got things tip top and running smoothly – we even have a regular flow of orders coming through. I’m now embarking on a brand building exercise in this highly competitive marketplace. We have no history online and a fairly limited budget on which to try and raise the brand profile/position amongst the target audience.

We have been working on the core channels for the first 6 months; PPC, SEO , Affiliates and we’ve dipped into market but until now we have’nt had a sufficient database to make this channel worthwhile. Now I want to put Social Media at the heart of the communications plan (I say plan in the looses sense of the word). We’ve had a Facebook page, a blog and a twitter account since we launched but due to circumstances we have not utilised them as much as we were hoping. Different story now though.

I started out be thinking about our position in the market and how we would have been perceived and my conclusion was that no one had actually heard of us. Big problem. We have no brand equity at all and had no where to talk really -we pay almost all of our customers to come and shop with us. First thing to do was gain some exposure and pick up some fans and followers and get some good content onto the blog.

I wanted to create high numbers of followers quickly so I did something which I shouldn’t have – paid for followers on twitter and likes on Facebook. I used a site called fiverr on which people will do jobs for you for $5. it’s quick , easy and cheap. I did this with the view that I didn’t want my ‘real’ audience coming to a Facebook page with only 5/6 ‘Likes’ or a twitter account with only 200 followers. probably not best practice but it gave the brand a sense of community – even though there was no community or engaged audience at all. I’ll have to deal with this as the numbers increase.

It’s cheap – but I think for visitors to these channels the new numbers (c2000 twitter followers and c400 Facebook fans – still small) give a reassurance about the brand. The nest step is building on this group with an engaged and earned audience.