Community Mobilization Participation Groundswells through Social Marketing
What comes first; the chicken or the egg? A simple question that has confounded people for generations can be applied in this perfect example of a geographically targeted community mobilization and the very measurable social media reaction.
One could not have happened with the other.
Community Activism is Born
On Feb 19th 2010, there was a violent mugging in our small urban city of Kingston, NY just blocks from the corner of my home. The neighbor of the victim spent a sleepless night worrying about the safety of his own children, his friends, his neighbors and his city and by the light of morning had found his cause and had committed himself to it entirely. By 9am on February 20th, the Neighborhood Watch Groups of Kingston, New York, Inc. was born again.
Immediately Social Media Marketing Was Incorporated
Luckily, the concerned neighbor was my husband, so upon waking that morning and being told of his epiphany, I immediately went back to work. By that Saturday night, the 12 hour old community activist group had:
- A well keyword researched URL
- A custom branded logo
- A blog based branded website
- A Facebook user profile and fan page
- A twitter account
- Call to action flyers and volunteers to pass them out
By the time the group was 48 hours old, we had well surpassed the 100 fan mark that allowed the Facebook page to own a SEO friendly URL. A press release was researched, written distributed and live online. News papers were called and interviews we given local public access TV shows went live, radio interviews were broadcasted and the numbers grew and grew.
Geo-local Community Responds
Considering that Kingston has an overall population of only 23,000 people, the almost 900 hundred people that have become fans on this page in less than two short weeks actually represents almost 4% of the population. Now granted not every single fan is actually living in Kingston; many are former residents or friends who support the efforts, but the numbers in perspective are pretty impressive.
According to Facebook, if I plug into their advertising platform, there are only 620 people who live within 10 miles of Kingston NY who are NOT already connected to the fan page. I figure that even considering non-resident fans, once we get to 3000 fans, we pretty much have everyone that is using Facebook in the area.
On top of that, the page is incredibly active and the blog is generating comments and conversations, plus Feedburner reports 39 subscribers.
On Facebook alone in the second half of the pages “life” there were:
- 147 “Likes”
- 107 Comments
- 33Wall Posts
- 15.8 Post Quality
Social Marketing Failure or Success with Facebook for Activism?
Now, granted I manage Facebook Public Fan pages that have many thousands of fans as they should. Before this very geographically targeted page went live two weeks ago, I was really the most effective fan way to grow a hefty fan base was by utilizing an already culled email list. Granted there are some brands that just gather a following, often rouge, because of who or what they are or because some aspect of it goes viral. I do find, though, that it is really hard to make that happen unless there is some serious marketing money and effort behind it. I have seen decent brands that basically refuse to email their customers and even invite them to be a fan of them on Facebook, or have great products that should be fan just on cool factor, but they won’t put either their time of budget behind it and therefore, for them, Facebook is a failure.
We usually create a Facebook page for all our clients under the ideals that obtaining the branded real estate and registering their names is a very important part of link building through SEO even if they do not opt for our social media marketing services. We build it, if they have a blog link them, attach Twitter and all the bells and whistle and then strongly, repeatedly, encourage our clients to use the page! Post things that you are interested in, we say. Respond to what your customers are saying. Put a Facebook Badge on the website. Send out an email blast. And then, if they personally are using Facebook share things like a blog post with their own friends and family. In fact, often, we just beg: Please use the share button.
Some don’t and a year later, they have very sad and pathetic Facebook Fan pages that have, in some cases 27 fans.
Creating Community Participation
Of course this page did have the added bonus that, even for a small area, it was immediately connected to me. Not only did I do everything that one should, but since I live, eat, and breath on the internet and have for the last 10 years even way before social media had a name. I have some pretty vast networks already in place. So yes, the networks were in place and all I did was, in a way, turn on the tools.
And there was a clear need for this group in the community. People were concerned and now are empowered and happy to do their parts to improve our city. Seeing a need and filling that need does reap positive results in general.
But, and this is a big but, all this still leaves out one very important factor:
Quality Content, Effort, Time, Communication Equal Good Social Marketing
The main engine behind all this activity was my husband who has dedicated himself to this cause and treats it as a full time job. He won’t post on the blog, but he quickly became a serial refresher and started measuring his success based on the number of Facebook fans. He shared and liked everything, updated the status of the page throughout the day, went to other local groups and pages and engaged on their pages, invited his entire friend list to come to events and to be a fan, went to other local blogs and news sites and commented there and called all the local media, plus anyone else he could think of, and gave print and video interviews.
In many ways, he was the perfect client.
The communication of the important happenings really do need to be communicated to one’s social media provider. I was, of course, aware of every interview, every appearance, every opportunity and made sure it was capitalized on. That clearly helped spread the word, but once I created a post, or embedded a video, he ran with it. The success of this start up, local niche, born from nothing, activism based social marketing was a clear result of both the tools of social marketing and the effort put forth into it.
It really cemented what I already knew; that any successful social media campaign needs a few key ingredients:
- Quality, customer based content: See a need, fill that need. Have something somebody wants. Have a unique and needed product. Provide information that is useful to an audience.
- Communication: I knew about the next event or interview before it was going to happen and could inform followers of thus. I could make the best use out of all his actions outside of the web because I knew in advance and could plan and there was nothing that he didn’t feel comfortable about.
- Established Connections: We already had friends and family directly affected by this local concern. If we hadn’t already had those networks, it still could have happened, but we would have had to research and find our target market. There is no point sharing things if no one will ever see them.
- Effort: One must, one a core level, share and populate the content within one’s own networks. Not only did we both push out or content, but we asked others to do the same and they did
- Time/ Money: These are not the same, but they are. All these efforts have cost us very, very little in the way of money, but we have both put a LOT of time into making it happen. If you don’t have the time invest in social media marketing, then there is a good chance that you have to pay someone to conduct your social media campaigns for you. However, if set up the right way in the beginning, and with proper training, the best social media is done in house.
The good news is, however, if all the other key ingredients are in place, social media marketing can be very, very successful on both a large and tiny niche scale. Which brings us back to the chicken or the egg:
Did the use of social marketing make this community development successful or did the dedication of the activist make the social marketing successful?
It doesn’t matter in this case; the bottom line is that the community is organizing and mobilized both on a web based and community based social activism level and the results will be a better safer neighborhood for all.