Marketing Is About Community Not Tools

Marketing It’s Not About The Tools shares five ideas to help online marketing teams learn to love people. Loving people, creating sustainable online community and moving your online marketing team’s thinking from “our team creates content” to “our team curates content and develops community” is beyond critical. Because marketing is never about the tool despite apparanet fascination with tools.

5 Ways To Love People

  1. Share your treasure (links, likes and shares back to customers)
  2. Aggregate and share community analytics to create benchmarks
  3. Create PUBLIC FACING User Profiles with security as an expression of #1
  4. Curate customer content
  5. Gamify

Love People #1 Share Treasure

As I shared with friends at Haiku Deck, one of our favorite tools,

The next thing I would add to your Haiku Deck user profile is a way to link out to a few of my social nets. Those external links to Twitter, my blog and Facebook create a sense of reciprocity (we give to you, you give back to us). Those links also become great sources of legitimacy for you since your support of me leads to more support for you.

When you give customers a piece of your treasure (your website) collaboration begins.

Love People #2: Share Your Data in Aggregate

We humans want to know how we are doing. We are curious. We want to know what others “like us” are doing. Without exception, every tool we love is sitting on a goldmine of data and no one shares. Why doesn’t share aggregate traffic, share and following? Why doesn’t medium share what subjects are written about, shared and engaged the most? Why doesn’t Haiku Deck provide information about popular slide deck topics?

Medium’s founder Ev Williams wrote a great post about why Medium isn’t a tool. Medium, he argued, is a community. At our Startup Factory funded company in Durham, NC we spend a lot of time thinking about how to create online community.

Here is how we shared the “pillars of community” we’ve discovered after years of hard work:

  • User Profiles
  • Ability to follow and support each other (community member to community member)
  • Ability to follow and learn from host (community management team)
  • Ability to create cool, unique content (Haiku Deck does a great job here)
  • Gamification

Ev is right. Medium is a community, but we wish Medium,, GPlus and Haiku Deck would share more power with their customers (we the users).

Love People #3: Public Facing User Profiles

User profiles deserve their own post, but your profile needs to be public facing. If you have a user profile like only YOU (Forbes or the managing team behind the ASK for the profile) can see you neuter most of the share’s value. Make your profile public facing with security options so customers can set what is seen / not seen and collaboration and the road to your sustainable online community begins.

Love People #4: Curate Customer Content

Once your ASK for user content you need to value it. Ask and don’t Retweet, link to and feature User Generated Content (UGC) provided kills nascent online communities faster than anything we know. You may want to over-communicate.

Best to ASK permission (to share) if you are going to share content a customer shared with you, but share, share and share some more. Create scheduled features such as Ambassador of the week, month or year. Follow your customers. Don’t make a common social media mistake.

“We are elite so we only follow industry experts or other GODS,” is a common social media marketing mistake. Follow 70% of those who follow you or more. Find reasons to LOVE your customers and support their efforts to support you. If those words sounds as if your job is changing you win a cookie.

Your job is User Content Curator in Chief now and the community depends on you to share. Your shares are how THEY (your customers and Ambassadors) learn.

Love People #5: Gamify

Curagami’s tag is “content gamification”. Content gamification uses content particularly User Generated Content to construct a game. Games need clearly communicated rules, easy to understand “how to play” guidelines, and rewards. The best reward isn’t money.

Read Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Pink and you will discover something that shocked us – only a small group is motived by money. Pink puts the “money motivated” group at 15%, but his value may change depending on what business you are in. If you are the ASPCA we bet your “money motivation” group is smaller than 15%.

Games are FUN. We love to compete and win. We love to scale mountains, work hard and feel rewarded. Gamification is the only way we know to keep your customers coming back over time. Sites without games, without the ability for their customers to collaborate, change and contribute to the environment, have a limited shelf life and won’t sustain.

That last lesson is a hard lesson for big brands. Big brands are used to one-way conversations. They tell us. Good luck with one-way conversations in about five years. When your children begin consuming whatever product you create they will expect and demand the ability to collaborate, modify and make YOUR stuff THEIRS.

Why, given these ideas, is every widget creator fascinated with their tools when we, their customers, are fascinated with each other? Hey solve that mystery and you will make serious money (lol). Marty