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Your Community is More Important than Your Content

Community versus Content
I’ve been a big fan of Rand Fiskin, and how he’s operated SEO Moz as the CEO.

Recently I read his blog post titled, 11 Tips I Gave Marketers this Morning.

Tip # 6 on his blog post was this:

“Crappy content often outperforms amazing content when the publisher/brand/site has a powerful community.

Community is one of the most ignored/under-appreciated channels of an inbound marketing strategy, yet it makes every other channel – social, search, email, content, viral, etc. – more effective.”

Community Is Vital to Success

Veronica Mars Kickstarter One good example of a loyal community is the fans of the now cancelled TV show Veronica Mars, which starred actress Kristen Bell.

The show was cancelled back in 2007, but the creator of the TV show, Rob Thomas, wanted to create a Veronica Mars movie in 2013. He went to Kickstarter (a crowdfunding platform) and asked for $2 million from fans to help raise the funds for the movie. He was able to reach that goal within an unprecedented 12 hours, and on April 12th, 2013 the movie raised $5.7 million with about 91 thousand people financially backing the movie.

Veronica Mars was Good, but Not Great

I used to watch Veronica Mars when it was on T.V. and was a fan of Kristen Bell on the show. But I have to admit, I thought the show was good, but it wasn’t great. But what Veronica Mars did have was a community that was loyal to the show to the point that fans were willing to donate their own cash to see a movie be built, five years after the show had been cancelled. That’s quite a bit of time that’s past.

And yet, people are still wanting a movie to be made. Now, obviously, Veronica Mars had a lot of exposure. It was aired nationally for close to three years, so it was bound to find a few fans that are going to be loyal. But that doesn’t negate the point that their community came to help out when they needed the money and support of fans.

How To Create Such a Loyal Fanbase Online

It can be hard for any business to build their community the beginning, especially if you’re a small business with a small team, and other well known communities around your industry have already started but there are a few things that can you can to grow your online community.

1) Create or Join Online Groups on LinkedIn

If your business wants to be well known, then it should be a part of a community. Or better yet, if no one has started one, then you should form your own. There are a variety of online social networks that will allow you to create groups.

LinkedIn is a great place to start groups and start a community. It does require some patience and cross promoting on your other networks, but if you’re able to be one of the first to start a meaningful group, then you can reach hundreds and even thousands of people who share the same interest as you.

This is what the founders of the website Pinnable Business did. To build their online community they created their own Linkedin group called Pinterest for Business.

It helped them establish credibility and also help promote their website and service Pin Alerts, which sends you automatic e-mail when a person pins a visual from your website.

2) Create a Group on Google Plus

My friend KC Claveria created an online community about Vancouver on Google Plus. He was very smart. The day that groups could be created on G+, he sent out invites to locals in Vancouver and asked them to join. His group is close to 500 members since he started, and people are continuously joining it and posting and sharing new comment. And he’s the moderator.

I found a Pinterest group on G+ with over 800 members, but quite frankly I was not happy with how many unrelated topics there were, and how moderators didn’t seem to care, as many of them were responsible for posting those unrelated topics, so I decided to create my own.

I called it Pinterest Marketing, and though the group isn’t big, there’s about 25 members and I find new people joining each week. But I know for a fact, a little patience, the group will continue to grow, and I will continue to be a moderator for the group.

Pinterest Google Plus Group

3) Create a Community Board On Pinterest

Pinterest is also a great way to create a community around your brand and business. One of the best ways to build a community board. This can be done by inviting other pinners who you follow to pin on your board. Ensure that you put up the rules about your board in the description, and also a way for people who land on your Pinterest board to contact you.

Pinterest Community Board

Daily Inspiration is a wonderful website, and they have a Pinterest account. I recently joined one of their boards, Creative Ads, and was able to indirectly gain an additional 1,1000 followers to help grow MCNG’s community and am grateful to Daily Inspiration.

Feel free to read more about my article about how to grow your Pinterest community board.

4)Be a Guest Blogger

Often businesses talk about competitors. While you should be aware of what other businesses are out there, there’s no need to feel that everybody is your enemy. One of the best ways to build a community is to guest post on other blogs that are related to your industry, or on prominent websites.

You’ll often see that Social Media Examiner has guests blog posts from a variety of writers from other blogs, such as Cynthia Sanchez from Oh So Pinteresting, and Beth Hayden from Copyblogger, who write about Pinterest.

Content is Still Vital

While you should be focusing on efforts to create a large community for your services, product, or website, don’t think that this gives you the excuse to slack off and not create good content for your blog or for your website. I think it’s vitally even more important that the larger your community gets, the more responsibility you have to provide great content for them.

And when you’re able to provide great content to a wide community, this is how your make posts go viral even more across all different mediums like e-mail, social, search and more.

Go out there and start building your community. Even Bruce Wayne has a community known as Batman Inc.

8 Steps to Grow Your Pinterest Community Board

How to Grow a Pinterest Community Board
If you’re a regular of the blog you know I’ve been writing a lot about how to use Pinterest to market your business recently, and the reason is because it’s not only another social network, it’s one where people, mostly women, are spending a lot of time and money.

The social network is quite different from Twitter, and Facebook. It’s not a network trying to engage users with typing, instead they are encourage users to tell parts of their lives through visual sharing. These parts of their lives may include fashion, comics, recipes, and places they want to travel.

What’s powerful about this social network is that brands and businesses can create community boards to help increase their own brand awareness, and be part of other community boards. If you’re a local sports bar, you may want to join a community board that’s dedicated to the local sports team, or better yet start one.

What are Community Boards?

Community boards are boards where there are multiple contributors to one board, where members of that community are given the right to invite others. For example on my community board about creative advertising, The majority of the pins are by me, but if you look at some other pins, other members have posted some amazing advertising examples as well.

One of the main objectives of a community board is to have different people contribute to the Pinterest board.

Pinterest Community Board You’ll recognize a community board because there will be a silhouette of a crowd in the corner. Not all community boards are designed to be invitation to the general public. You can actually invite only people who are only part of your company to contribute, similar to having multiple users for the social media dashboard, Hootsuite.

Benefits of Joining, Creating and Growing a Community Board

There are quite a few established community boards around Pinterest for a variety of topics ranging from health care to social media. One of the boards I was invited to join was created by the good people at Agenda Digital Marketing, about digital blogs.

What’s great for those starting off is that they give you exposure to a number to more followers that you normally don’t reach. The Agenda Marketing blog board already has 438 followers as of this writing. Some boards will have close to tens of thousands of followers depending on the niche. But joining one that’s well established will help raise your Pinterest’s profile much more quickly.

Joining and creating a community board also allows you to increase the number of followers. Many pinners have repeatedly reported in the blogosphere how the number of followers have increased, sometimes dramatically, after joining communities.

How to Build Your Community Board on Pinterest

I couldn’t find a community board for advertising, or one that had a lot of activity (the search function doesn’t allow to search boards that are just community groups). Here’s a step by step guide to getting people to join your group.

1) Create Your Board as if it was an Individual Board to Start.

Create your own board, and then post content that is relevant to that board to make it look filled out so that it doesn’t look an inactive board if users look at the board. This will let other users know that you’re more serious about creating a community instead of just spamming them.

2) Invite Pinners and Influencers to Join the Community Board.

Look for people who would be interested in contributing content to that particular board. And when you’re able to locate influencers in your particular industry don’t be afraid to ask them to join.

Please, don’t just invite random people, it’s really annoying to pinners. I got a community invite regarding baby pictures, I thought that was weird and kind of spammy. And yes, Pinterest has been known to delete millions of spam accounts.

I sent out invites to people who already had boards on advertising. Not everybody will join, but some will. Those that already have community boards on their account are more likely to join because they generally understand what community boards are about.

How to Add People to Group Boards on Pinterest

3) Engage with Your Community.

As the person responsible for the community, ensure that you actually engage with those that pin on your community board. Like their pin, or better yet, add a comment. This way they know you’re paying attention when they see the board, and it will also encourage people to keep pinning.

It’s all about caring about the contribution by your community, and is especially important to new members who join.

4) Properly Name Your Community Board.

I realized there’s a fine line between making your board search friendly on Pinterest and Google and also making it friendly in terms of the pinning menu. Let’s say that you decide to repin someone else’s photo, notice that it will list the boards that you’ve created. The photo on the bottom will give a better visual description.

I recently joined a board about the Vancouver Canucks, it’s not optimized for that search word, but notice how it’s the second board that pops up every time, and that means that all the contributors of that board will also being seeing it pretty high up every time they pin. This keeps the board top of mind.

If she had named it Vancouver Canucks, chances are people are going to contribute less.

PinterestCommunityBoard2

5) Make it Easy for People to Contact You.

This hasn’t caught on fully yet, but it should be standard practice for people that are looking to grow their board, it’s by listing how pinners can contact you and join the community. One of my biggest frustrations as a pinner is seeing this amazing community and wanting to join, but there’s no way for me to join. The description is blank.

Just make sure that when people do ask for an invite, that they have boards that match what your board is about. Make sure you do your due diligence. The last thing you need is a spammer.

How to Join a Pinterest Community

6) You can Only Invite Pinterest Users you Follow.

To prevent spam, Pinterest doesn’t allow you to invite another pinner unless you follow him or her. Unfortunately, even if someone does follow your boards, you invite them. This may make it hard for brands that are trying to keep their follower counts down that are looking to build community boards.

7) Hang in there, and Keep Looking for like Minded People.

Like any other community it’s a lot of work to build. But don’t despair, keep at it. Especially if no one else has built a community about your topic. Judy Belmont posts a lot of pins about mental health, and you can see that she has a rather big following. Regardless of stereotypes of it being just about DIY, recipes and fashion, you can create a lively and enthusiastic community.

8) Promote on Other Social Media.

The last advice I can give is to cross promote your social media. If you’ve created a group board, let your followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and LinkedIn know. Making sure it’s relevant, you’ll find that some people will want to join your boards.

And as more people start pinning (I don’t doubt that the social media network will reach 100 million in a few months) then more and more will want to be a part of your community.

That’s 8 steps to Grow your Pinterest Community Board. For more information on how to use Pinterest for marketing and lead generation, I’ll be holding an informative and information packed one hour Pinterest seminar on Thursday, April 11th, between 6:30-8:30 pm at the HiVE in Vancouver. For all the details visit our event page, or feel free to call Vincent at 604 782 0801.