Autospeak-Straight Talk contains articles covering digital and social media marketing social communities and events marketing

Cutting Through The Noise to Market Smarter

(Posted on Dec 6, 2014 at 04:07PM by William Cosgrove)

Businesses that integrate content marketing, social media and SEO strategy are seeing big results. Integrating these marketing channels can be a challenge and marketing from Ground Zero provides a very cost effective way of pulling all these channels together to provide impressive long term and sustainable results.

For any business looking for better ROI along with small and medium sized businesses with limited digital marketing resources it is important to cut through the noise and find ways to provide your business with the most economically viable and sustainable ways to build your brand, provide great customer service and drive new business.

Most businesses have an online presence with exposure to social media to some extent but in many cases do not feel they have the resources, to take their online marketing to the next level. If this describes your present situation read on because marketing from ground zero can be the answer.

Brands Building Community Should Promote Own Sites

Today, as reported by by Gavin O'Malley at Media Post “At least as community-building tools, marketers should forget about Facebook and Twitter. That’s the crux of a new report from Forrester Research, which suggests that the social giants are losing their grip on what has historically been known as “social” marketing.

“Top brands Facebook and Twitter posts reach only about 2% of their fans and followers, and less than 0.1% of fans and followers interact with each post,” Forrester analyst Nate Elliott explains in the new report. “Marketers need to rebuild their social relationship strategies around sites that work.”

In place of Facebook and Twitter, Elliott and his colleagues suggest that brands build out their own social-friendly properties. Indeed, U.S. online adults are nearly three times more likely to visit a brand’s Web site than to engage them on Facebook.”

More than 80% of small businesses cite that (Ground Zero) - their website is the number one way they engage with customers. This statistic alone shows that businesses should be looking for ways to more fully utilize this precious resource.

Great Customer Service Is Key to Free Publicity

There is no better way to provide excellent customer service than through an onsite community. More than two-thirds of American consumers said they're willing to spend 14 percent more on average with a company that delivers excellent service, according to new survey from American Express.

Providing great customer service can also get you free publicity through recommendations and referrals. Forty-six percent of respondents said they always tell others when they've had good service interactions, and 42 percent said that a recommendation from a friend or family member is more likely to get them to do business with a new company.

The Power of Customer Loyalty

New customers driven by existing customers’ recommendations are the second-biggest source of revenue—more than new customers who come to a business from other sources.

Repeat customers were by far the biggest source of revenue for more than 43 percent of entrepreneurs, while new customers accounted for about 19 percent of revenues.

Whatever the trending term these onsite customer care and benefit centers (communities) can benefit companies across the industry horizontal. There is no better way to create measure and maintain customer loyalty and drive referrals and recommendations than by having an onsite social community.

An onsite social community offers benefits that no other medium can match and is the most economical way to maintain and grow a loyal customer base. One Big Broadcast has been a leader in developing and customizing these types of platforms for years.

A Proven Platform

One Big Broadcast has been at the technological forefront of Onsite Social Communities for years and has been redefining the customer experience and how businesses and their employees interact with both their existing and potential customers by taking customer care, service and benefits to a whole new level. Onsite Social Communities shifts customer support and service to being part of the brand marketing mix.

One Big Broadcast’s SEO automation and CMS technology combined with our inclusive suite of marketing products and fully integrated mobile capability provides a low cost way to create an ecosystem within itself that can power your online and mobile marketing initiatives to cost effectively cut through the noise to market smarter.

William Cosgrove

What is Influence Marketing To You?

(Posted on Aug 23, 2014 at 12:46PM by William Cosgrove)
I was out for an afternoon walk recently and was walking along the edge of a wooded area when a maturing fawn with its fading white spots ran up to within 20 feet of where I was standing.  I was so influenced by its natural beauty and the wonder I have for all things wild that I could not move and somehow felt connected to that young deer and could not wait to share my experience.
The influence this young deer had on me is just one of the many ways we have been being influenced and influencing for millennium. The internet being a fairly recent addition offers a host of new opportunities to influence others.
Through an active online presence of blogging, commenting, participating in forums and on social networks or through word of mouth we all are in a way looking to influence and find influencers. Those that are actively involved in particular areas may be researching, simply voicing opinions or trying to draw attention to a product or service albeit from a positive or negative aspect.

Using influencers to increase market awareness among target markets is a method that can increase your visibility and culminate in getting known in circles that can have a huge impact on one’s success.

All of us who are actively involved in social networking whether it is online, offline or a combination of both are all looking to influence others to further ourselves and or our business in some way.

Getting noticed by these influencers whether it be a decision maker in a company with whom you would like to do business, one who is well connected with key people in your industry or a current or potential customer can often act as an accelerator for business.

According to Wikipedia, Influencer Marketing, as increasingly practiced in a commercial context, comprises four main activities:

Identifying influencers and ranking them in order of importance.

Marketing to influencers to increase your awareness within the influencer community

Marketing through influencers, marketing with influencers and turning influencers into advocates of the firm.

Influencer marketing is enhanced by a continual evaluation activity that sits alongside these four main activities.

 In many circles it has become increasingly accepted that companies should be identifying and engaging with influencers. Exactly what is included in Influencer Marketing depends on the context (B2C or B2B) and the medium being utilized.

Marketing experts Keller and Berry note that “Business is working harder and paying more to pursue people who are trying to watch and listen less to its messages." Targeting influencers is seen as a means of amplifying marketing messages, in order to counteract the growing tendency of prospective customers to ignore marketing.

Onsite social communities are an extremely effective and low cost method in which to engage with and gain valuable knowledge from influencers both in B2C and B2C.
It is making more and more sense to have an onsite community. According to recent data form  33Across, in a recent article at MediaPost “Dark Social” or private social represents 71% of all social sharing. Enlisting employees, current and potential customers can be very effective in getting your message out and to reach this private social community.

Onsite social communities act as ground zero to allow businesses not only to connect, follow and be followed by existing and potential customers but also to engage with their employee base. This is a centralized non-intrusive way in which to communicate with, retain and turn your existing customers and employees into marketing influencers and brand ambassadors.

It is said that one in every 10 Americans is what they call an "influential." These people have a tremendous impact on the rest of society because their ideas and opinions are sought out by the colleagues, friends, family, and community members around them. The conversations they hold and the examples they set have the power to shape behaviors and attitudes across your digital marketing and social media channels.

Based on this statistic, how many untapped influential customers or employees might already be in your database or working within your organization? And with a one in ten chance of finding an influencer and making them an advocate for your business through an onsite community it is an economical avenue worth pursuing that can provide substantial long term rewards and help you adapt to trends in social networking.

William Cosgrove

All Aboard For 'Ground Zero Marketing'

(Posted on Aug 2, 2014 at 12:09PM by William Cosgrove)
Now that “Ground Zero Marketing” has already left the station and is gaining momentum I’d like to re-iterate some points from my article last week and bring up some new ones in hopes of continuing the momentum to enlist and educate business that it’s the website first and foremost that should provide the base from which all their its initiatives should originate and link back to directly.

So let’s rev up “Ground Zero Marketing” and invite everyone aboard.  There will be many stops along the way for those of you who are late to get on board but just remember that the first ones to get on board always get the best seats.

Technology today provides business with the tools to build and maintain their website as “ground Zero” to give them greater control and to reap all the benefits that increased exposure and community brings to organic search, natural link building, and search ranking.

.Your company website should be where all your marketing and communication efforts originate and directly link to where you can provide visitors with a customer centric culture enhanced through community. 

Why would you subscribe to a company whose platform requires you to use their website to do your marketing or distribute content? Your website is where you should concentrate on building your brand. Today it is important to note that it not only does not make sense to market from someone else’s site it simply diminishes the reach and effectiveness your most valuable online asset-Your Website.

From service to sales to customer service your website should be the main vessel used to attract traffic from all your organic and social media channels and an online community can tie it all together.

Unless you are a national or international company your efforts should also be on marketing locally to your local community and using  community to become part of it and to make them part of yours. This is where you are going to realize the most benefit and where you can show your support for your community through customer service, sponsorship and education to show them that you are more than just another sales machine.

The basics of earning respect and loyalty have never and will never change. Digital marketing has just given us newer and different ways in which to do it

These efforts are what are going to create the advocates that will repay you with their loyalty by patronizing your business and referring friends, family and others through WOM (Word of Mouth) advertising on and offline.

Ground Zero Marketing provides better and more stable ways of attracting customers and communicating with your existing customer and employee base from your most important online asset-Your website. Having your message emanating from and traffic directed to your website is the only way you will reap 100% of the benefit that SEO and link building provide.

All this interaction being streamed across your organic, social media and paid channels will engage potential customers by showing them that you have a customer and employee centric culture. This builds trust and confidence in your brand that will:

Increase visibility

Increase site traffic

Increase recommendations and testimonials

Increase employee advocacy

All of which combined will set your brand apart and result in higher sales and a fatter bottom line.

Use Ground Zero to show that you believe in your employees, your customers and yourself.  Show your customers and employees that you know they are the reason you exist through community, sharing and establishing a dialog that flows in two directions. Then you will have a solid foundation for continued and sustainable growth-ALL Aboard Yet?

And one more thing.-

Keep your eyes open so you don’t miss this important message that has been posted on along the way to “Ground Zero Marketing”: 

All Aboard!!!

Marketing From Ground Zero

(Posted on Jul 26, 2014 at 02:32PM by William Cosgrove)

Would you do a little research to increase sales, customer retention and to more fully utilize your marketing dollars? Then take the time today to read this and research this important topic and you will discover the tremendous benefits and cost savings that an Onsite Social Community can provide.

The process of buying a product is fleeting in terms of the length of time it takes. After the sale your relationship can last for years when it comes to servicing, communicating and establishing a positive relationship with that customer who can also in turn make a positive impact in influencing potential customers.

These communities can take many forms to fit the needs of any business and can be utilized across your social networks and digital marketing campaigns to provide a customer centric message that no other social tool can.

Social communities provide customers a central place in which to directly communicate with a business and gain valuable information about all of the businesses services and offerings. Social communities also provide an ongoing opportunity for the business to gain knowledge about the customer as an individual by listening to and addressing their constantly changing individual wants and needs.

Social Communities also provide a forum in which customers can ask questions relevant to them and share their feelings with others on why they like doing business with your company. What better way to get to know a customer than genuinely listening to their wants and needs and providing the solutions and answers that concern “them” from one central place-your website.

As well as enjoying the rewards of being a customer of a business through special member discounts and drawings they get to know you as a business and you get to know and maintain contact with them as a customer.

The cost effectiveness of having that customer on your site as a community member is immeasurable when comparing it to the cost of campaigns to reach them. (See Know These Must Have Social Media Marketing Tools)  Your communication also becomes expected and not intrusive to them.

Also, by having one central landing page for community members to provide helpful information from provided services to sales, events and relevant topics with the ability to ask questions they have that concern them will turn your customers into brand ambassadors to provide invaluable marketing opportunities for you to increase you customer base.

Online social communities can also be combined with on and offline events marketing to provide powerful and effective marketing campaigns that will stand out and which cannot be accomplished by any other means.

Analytics have provided more and more insight into online users behaviors and have started to provide more insight into target marketing to the individual. Onsite communities provide a cost effective and direct way of providing invaluable insight on targeting to the individual, and monitoring their changing behaviors.
The rapid advancement in technology as a whole promises to bring new and better ways to measure and market online much more efficiently but an onsite community can live on to be utilized with all the current technology available today as well as newer technologies that are made available on an almost daily basis.

More and more businesses are embracing the advantage of onsite communities to integrate current customers and employees into the company culture to better leverage these existing resources.

Would you do a little research to make a big difference? Then take the time to research and discuss the tremendous benefits an onsite community customized to fit your needs can bring to your business and you will discover that “Marketing from Ground Zero” will add more zeros to your bottom line.

William Cosgrove

(Photo courtesy of abramarketing)

How To Get More Social

(Posted on Jul 5, 2014 at 12:50PM by William Cosgrove)

Have you overlooked the potential of harnessing and combining your own social network or community in a niche social community network with your overall social brand strategy?
The benefits that these networks will bring are the most cost effective way in which to engage, retain, manage and form alliances with your community members that will not only foster retention but promote your brand in the most positive ways imaginable.

Companies with private social networks can experience better employee relations, customer service, reduced customer complaints and even higher brand loyalty. Think of having a central place in which to read and understand your customers’ concerns, wants, needs and expectations.

Onsite social networks can also connect to onsite/online events marketing allowing businesses their customers, employees and event sponsors to manage their own profiles – including creating their own content– which can all be administered with specified permissions tools. This “conglomerate”-style online network harnesses the power of multiple which acts like a magnet to attract search back to one central place- your site.

An onsite social network offers many benefits for you as a business, your employees and the customer that cannot be duplicated elsewhere-providing a win-win situation for all.

Below I have outlined some examples of how you can setup and implement an onsite social community to start reaping the multitude of benefits and good will through engagement, referrals and recommendations that no other form of marketing or rewards program can offer. The possibilities are only limited to your creative ideas and can benefit any business.

Community Members:

Existing members will automatically be made members and sent an e-mail to inform them. How many existing customers do you already have in your database?

New customers will automatically become members of the community as part of the benefit of doing business with your company.

Site visitors will be invited to join to enjoy member benefits who can be nurtured for future business.

Member Benefits:

Discounts on  purchases

Discounts on Extended Warranties, Maintenance Contracts and/or Services

Discounts on financing

Drawing, contests and Special Offers:

Have a monthly drawing for $$$ In free services and or product discounts that broadly cover individuals current needs that members can entered every month with their e-mail to keep members engaged and visiting your site. Take a picture of winners, see PhotoRep, get a testimonial and post it to your Customer Satisfaction Page and Social Media Sites.

The upside potential of having and utilizing an onsite community to engage and interact with customers are enormous. Showing your existing and potential customers that you will be there before and after the sale will create a customer centric culture that will foster customer loyalty that will extend across all your earned and social media to benefit you and your customers each and every day .

By William Cosgrove

Also read Social Networking at Its Best

(Photo courtesy of

Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

(Posted on May 8, 2014 at 11:49AM by William Cosgrove)
Many articles like the one you are about to read by Dave Evans have been written on this subject and one of the best solutions is in implementing and onsite community on your site. Follow the link at the end of the article to start understanding why….

There is no better way to create measure and maintain customer loyalty than by having an onsite social community. An onsite social community offers benefits that no other medium can match and is the most economical way to maintain and grow a loyal customer base.

Customer Loyalty Restarts With Every Experience

Allegiance to your brand begins again with every experience, from word-of-mouth mentions to small social objects like status updates that are passed around and shared.

Customer loyalty is an essential component in the business equations of most firms. After all, loyalty translates directly into a clear return on investment (ROI)-related benefit: lower churn (lower cost), higher renewal and upsell likelihood (more sales), etc. So beyond the obvious - do things that make customers happy, and don't do things that drive good customers away - what are the actionable steps you can take to systematically build and measure gains in loyalty?

Whether in a digital or "real" context (and note that for an increasingly large demographic segment, digital isreal), beneficial word-of-mouth is one of the most important marketplace signals that indicates the development (or erosion) of loyalty. Word-of-mouth and the small social objects - status updates, posts, videos - that are passed around and shared become part of the conversations that define contemporary brands, products, and services. Each of these can be systematically earned and nurtured, and related back as a precursor to loyalty.

As a starting point in assessing these precursors to loyalty consider Touchpoint Analysis, the discipline of measuring customer satisfaction at each and every point where a customer comes in contact with your product or service. Each of these interactions generates a conversation: as my colleague Xavier Jiménez put it, "Loyalty restarts with every customer experience." Although it may sound a bit like "what have you done for me lately" it's important to recognize that all interactions count, not just the outstanding (positive or negative) ones.

Sure, an outrageously excellent - or terrible - experience is likely to elicit an immediate tweet. But for every one of those there are many more "typical" experiences, experiences which day-in and day-out shape the ordinary conversations that power your brand's reputation. These same experiences - because they are associated with specific product and service interactions - also set the prevailing tone for the conversations that form around products and services. In other words, they drive sales.

So the first step is to measure and track your performance at these points of interaction - customer touchpoints - where talk-worthy experiences happen. Consider plotting the results so that you can see how various touchpoints are contributing to the overall perception of your product or service.

A simple way to do this - shown in the figure below - is to assess and rank performance at various touchpoints using a 0-10 scale. Then, for the same touchpoints assess and rank the talk-worthiness - how likely your customers are to talk about this particular touchpoint. For each touchpoint, plot talk-worthiness on the X-axis and assessed performance on the Y-axis. You'll end up with a map that should be "up and to the right." In other words, given the constraints that you operate against - no one can do everything - from a social optimization perspective the touchpoints with the highest likelihood to generate a conversation should be the touchpoints for which you recorded your best performances.
In reality it's seldom this simple: If your map looks more like blob than an up-and-to-right line, focus on the low-performing, highly talk-worthy points first; consider borrowing resources from the "low-talk/high-performance" efforts and apply them to the touchpoints you really need to improve on.

You can do more with touchpoints analysis, too: organize your touchpoint map chronologically and create a simple journey map. Furthest to the left - the earliest time - are the experiences associated with formation of opinion about a brand, product, or service during consideration. Furthest to the right are the experiences associated with renewal and the advanced stages of customer advocacy. The result is an understanding of the customer journey - the path your prospective customers follow when first entering into consideration of your product or service, through to the point where that same customer, after numerous interactions, has declared him or herself a brand advocate.

To see how touchpoint experiences impact loyalty, and indeed to see how loyalty itself is impacting advocacy, take your journey map and organize it into the post-acquisition stages of support, sales, and ideas corresponding to the customer emotions of satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy, as shown in the figure below.
Activity in any layer can happen independently of any other. But it's much more powerful when satisfaction (because of happiness with what has been purchased and the way your customer has been supported) leads to loyalty and new sales (because the right products or services are being offered given what has already been purchased) and ultimately to advocacy (because taken together, these are the kinds of experiences given the product or service involved that anyone would wish for anyone else in the same situation).

Why does this matter? Simple: When you place the pinnacle - advocacy - against the management of personal social capital as the basis for talking about a brand, product, or service, it's clear that from the customer's perspective it's all about managing and building his or her personal reputation in a specific domain so that when a recommendation is offered, it is not only followed but contributes further to the accrual of person social capital. From your (business) perspective, this is jet fuel for your brand ascension program - the ascension in customer emotion from satisfaction to loyalty to advocacy. Put all of this together - the reality of contemporary brand-building is that it is built on a negotiated relationship between business and customer - and you are set for success.

Look back at the main points in this article: evaluating performance at specific touchpoints, and focusing your effort on the ones that get talked about, on the experiences that are likely to lead from basic satisfaction to the first of the higher states - loyalty. Next, organizing these touchpoints chronologically to highlight the critical stages in the customer journey where these emotional stages are crossed. Finally, stacking all of this into layers themselves - satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy so that you can acquire, satisfy, and build brand advocates.

Loyalty begins with each experience: loyalty directly impacts ROI and leads to less-fiscal but nonetheless essential realization of advocacy. Follow the steps above, and at the same time score the power-up bonus by showing your customers how to build their social reputation in the domains which reflect their personal passions. Come back next month for more on how to do just that, and how to take reputation to the next level.

By Dave Evans
Dave is the VP of social strategy at Lithium. Based in Austin, Dave is also the author of best-selling "Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day," as well as "Social Media Marketing.

 See Its Time to Look Within to learn more

It is Time to Look Within

(Posted on Apr 26, 2014 at 03:02PM by William Cosgrove)
Social media destinations today seem to be a what’s trending, what's fashionable media where Social Icons are losing ground and where smaller ones are constantly being replaced with the next technologically fad driven way to communicate and share with one another on the internet and platform changes on these web properties can cost you dearly as many of you have learned.

It is time to look more within your organization to find better and more stable ways of attracting customers and communicating with your existing customer and employee base from your most important online asset-Your website. Having your message emanating from and traffic directed to your website is the only way you will reap 100% of the benefit that SEO and link building provide.

 This can be done by forming an onsite community to provide a central platform on your site where employees and customers can be engaged and can act as advocates for your brand that will strengthen your company in ways that no other medium can.

Social communities can integrate your marketing initiatives to organically grow your inbound traffic and SEO effectively reducing the cost of your online marketing and provide a host of benefits that cannot be achieved or more effectively controlled in any other way.

This interaction can be streamed across your social channels to engage potential customers by showing them that you have a customer and employee centric culture. This builds trust and confidence in your brand that will:

Increase visibility

Increase site traffic

Increase recommendations and testimonials

Increase employee retention

 All of which combined will result in higher sales and a fatter bottom line.

Onsite social communities bring you closer to your employees and customers by acting as listening posts that leads to better communication to gain valuable insight to make better decisions that will result in a  healthier organization.

There is a saying that content is the fuel and social is the fire. And for businesses in today’s customer centric marketplace creating a private social networking platform connects your employees, existing customers and potential customers into a single-focus environment enabling them to exchange ideas which will ultimately strengthen your brand and broaden your customer base.

In addition to your overall digital marketing strategy social communities are a perfect branding platform to show your members your appreciation and dedication to serving them by offering member only specials on purchases and services all geared towards producing devoted customers who will ultimately become your brand ambassadors.

This sense of community creates a win, win relationship where both you and your members can communicate closely and collaborate on such things as events, volunteer efforts, etc which in turn is channeled through organic SEO and social networks to generate goodwill across the internet from your website.

“We all know that social technology enables human connections. But the thing is, there are no boundaries between consumers or employees, because most of us are both. Technology has also amplified the speed and reach of every type of communication. This evolution in how we share information and knowledge goes far beyond just social "media." It's a complete transformation in the way we interact. When businesses fail to take advantage of the valuable assets in their organization, they miss out on an excellent way to create both customer engagement and employee empowerment." Michelle Killebrew, Program Director, Strategy IBM Social Business.

In today’s world of being relevant using content marketing in all its forms, what better way is there to be relevant than by creating your own onsite social community-What are your thoughts?

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk

See Social Communities to learn more

Lessons from Threadless: Why building online community can unlock e-commerce success

(Posted on Feb 23, 2014 at 01:50PM by William Cosgrove)
The success of companies who have found the value of having an onsite community is all around us. It lets you connect and stay close to your customers and employees in ways that cannot be accomplished by any other means.

More and more companies are creating onsite social communities for their customers in which to interact. Companies can read the needs and concerns of their customers in new ways and can benefit from the relevant content being generated in the community via comments and articles that can be integrated into their Digital marketing initiatives.

It shows that you are customer and employee centric and can produce a culture of brand ambassadors that can be broadcast across the internet and your social channels to greatly increase traffic to your site by people who will already have confidence in you as a company who is dedicated to serving its customers, employees and community.

These communities provide for limitless marketing opportunities at a fraction of the cost of any other form of marketing.

 Below Caitlin Fitzsimmons social media editor for BRW shares another success story that an onsite social community has brought to this ecommerce company.  However, onsite communities can be customized to any company in any industry to provide the same kind of results.

William Cosgrove
Bill Cosgrove Straight Talk

Related content:
Focus on the Heart and Not Just The Wallet

Threadless is a T-shirt company with a twist: artists submit designs, Threadless members vote on their favourites, the winners get paid and the T-shirts are produced and sold online.
Chicago-based Threadless started in 2000 with $1000 and is now widely estimated to have more than $30 million in revenue.

The intriguing thing about the business is how it was borne out of the idea of an online community of artists and designers. Artists submit designs, Threadless members vote on their favourites, the winners get paid and the T-shirts are produced and sold through the shop at It is worth reading this profile of Threadless (and the reader comments) in Chicago Magazine.

Threadless has more than 2 million members and a social presence that includes more than 800,000 fans on Facebook and 2.2 million Twitter followers. Chief marketing officer Todd Lido is giving a keynote at the E-commerce Conference & Expo in Melbourne from March 26-27 on the company’s strategy for community building and engagement.

BRW: What was the initial idea behind Threadless and how did it all start?
Picture Todd Lido: The idea for Threadless began when CEO and founder Jake Nickell began hosting T-shirt design challenges on a design forum. Jake saw how much everyone was enjoying these challenges, and realised it could be a great model to source incredible artwork for T-shirts.

BRW: How has Threadless grown and changed since then?

Lido: Over a decade later, the community continues to grow. Artists from all over the world submit on Threadless. We received submissions from artists in 71 different countries last month.

One of the great things about the community-based design model is there is no singular Threadless look or design sense. That said, it’s been interesting to see the aesthetics of what the community produces and which products are popular evolve over time.

We continue evolving the model to make it work better, both for Threadless as a business and for the artists who participate. We want to make sure Threadless stays the best platform in the world for artists to come together, share and monetise their work.

BRW: How is community and social marketing baked into what you do?

Lido: At its core, Threadless is a platform for connecting artists. So a community-centric approach to communication is very natural for us. We aim to inspire creativity and individuality and keep Threadless fun. It’s partly about managing a community of artists – engaging them in design submissions through themed design challenges, encouraging constructive feedback and collaboration and celebrating success in the community. And it’s partly about making a meaningful connection between artists and the rest of the community that supports them. We really want to keep a focus on the idea that when you buy from Threadless, you are supporting independent artists.

BRW: What have you learned about social marketing that might be useful for other companies?

Lido: Think about what makes your offering unique and what resonates most with the audience. Where is the emotional connection that’s going to make the audience want to share your content? Strive to mirror the tone of your communications with the conversations that are happening within your community. I’m sure that some marketers, especially in the business-to-business space, might think that doesn’t apply, but keep in mind at the end of the day your goal is to connect with people too. I definitely encourage as much playful experimentation with different types of content as possible. And pay attention to your social metrics while you experiment. You might be surprised by the results.

BRW: What have you done well and what would you do differently if you had your time over?

Lido: I’m most proud of the work we’ve done celebrating artists and telling the stories of the real people who make Threadless what it is. (Some great examples can be found here.)

I’m always dissatisfied when we do anything that doesn’t reinforce the narrative of community-based design. If we have a promotion which is only about “buy these discounted tees”, then it could be a promo for any retailer. If what we are talking about doesn’t represent the community behind Threadless, we might as well have stayed home that day.

BRW: What are some of the key things you plan to cover in your conference presentation?

Lido: I’m really looking forward to it! I actually think I’m going to get more out of the experience than anyone. I’m looking forward to telling the Threadless story and relating ideas for sustainable community engagement. Threadless certainly has a unique story, but there’s a lot to draw from which is relevant to almost any organisation seeking to grow its online community.

I’ll talk a little about our core mission, the business model and culture and how they inform everything else we do. I will walk through examples of how community participation informs business decisions. I plan on going into detail about our content marketing strategy and how we pull stories out of our community. There will be relatable examples of what has worked for us on a channel and campaign level, especially social media examples. And I will also talk about the balancing act of driving marketing strategy with both community and e-commerce goals, and how these don’t have to be at odds with each other.

By Caitlin Fitzsimmons

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