In this article we discuss the benefits of private social networking software and the specific qualities that you should look for when selecting vendors for your brand. We’ll also discuss some strategic considerations when it comes to launching your private network.
The Need For Private Social Networking Software
The old ways of marketing are simply inefficient for fledgling companies to the point of being obsolete. A startup business can’t focus on big money injections into their staff, expensive manual methods, and extravagant expenses for small investment returns. Instead, they must turn to social media marketing which is an inexpensive, direct, and quick way to interact with their audience.
Create Stronger Bonds With Your Audience
With space you provide for your customers, you establish a platform for them to communicate, share experiences, and distribute information. All those things that in traditional marketing you have to do with your own efforts and resources. Important factors like generating leads and conversion rates benefit highly from a well-organized private social networking. And they contribute to the proper scaling of your brand.
Gather Insights To Fuel Your Operation
Private social networks are a tremendous source for customer insights. Insights you can use to shape your marketing, product development or brand strategy. You can collect insights not only because you can apply things like polling and surveys, but also by simply listening in to the conversations that take place. And if you choose the right tool, the software will already alert you about most interesting topics to keep and eye on.
Choosing The Right Vendor
About a decade ago there were only a couple of providers of private social networking software. Today, we’d be hard-pressed to count how many tools and platforms exist because something new pops up on a daily basis. Tons of tools are available, each with their strengths and weaknesses. Because of that, picking the right one has become much more than a quick survey of what features are available and at what price.
Not all social platforms suit your needs. Instead of the trial-and-error method, it’d be much more efficient to start from the very beginning with a platform that allows customizable features and options that can grow as your business grows.
Here are a couple of key questions you might want to ask when comparing vendors:
- Is the software designed for building open or private social networks?
- Does it provide enough tools for people to connect and for me to extract insights?
- Does it allow for user segmentation?
- Is its pricing within my budget?
- How is support structured? Do I get assigned dedicated support, or will I be on my own?
- Can I scale and/or adapt this platform to my brand’s needs?
- Is the software user-friendly?
Ultimately, you can have an open-coded social networking software adapted to you by an IT team, or even have one created from scratch; but such options usually stay reserved for bigger companies due to cost-return investment ratio.
The Importance Of Usability And User Experience
Here at CMNTY, we value flexibility and user-friendliness. Look for something that easily integrates with other useful tools and programs that might come in handy in the future. You’ll want a platform that will solidify your foundation for further progress, and be at your disposal when you wish to advance any aspect of your business via new strategy or technology.
Just as with members of your community and marketing techniques, your platform must be equipped to connect with others of its kind. What else affects your choice? Well, the categories are countless, but start with simple and intuitive navigation, obvious and noticeable buttons, and an eye-catching yet non-bombastic design and text editor.
In trying to catch everyone, you’ll ultimately attract no one – you have to define your audience. A confusing and convoluted message is something that you need to avoid. If your potential customers can’t understand or recognize themselves in your brand, you won’t attract them. No need to tell you that this is not good! An additional step is to establish a communication line between the members and visitors of your social network.
Can you provide them with communication platforms? Create forums, online discussion panels, and chatrooms for even quicker data transactions. You can even reward your most active members with a built-in gamification system (read more about gamification here). This creates your community’s first volunteers – invite your most active members to leadership positions in your new community!
The 10% Rule
Active members contribute and help you form the core of 10% of active users. The 10% rule states that a tenth of your users actively respond to content and engage in daily activities in your community. Initiating something new? About 1 in 20 people will respond, and that is 5% of the entire pool of recipients. Out of this 5%, 60% won’t return after that initial response, and 30% will dissipate over the following week. What remains is about 10% of those who had first responded. They form your community’s lifeblood, and they move your community forward, galvanizing other members.
The result of this? Engagements – and that means lead generation and a significant boost in conversion rates. It brings the ability to grow, profit, and scale to previously unimaginable levels for small to medium-sized businesses. Before you get your message – what your business has to offer – out there, you have to first identify who you’re going to be showing this message to.
Marketing without a target market is as futile as trying to sell sand in a desert. So, get to know your audience and manage their info properly. Familiarizing with them is crucial to any viable social networking strategy. Find out your audience’s traits, behavioral patterns, and qualities. You have the whole power of a competent social networking software at your disposal!
Assign precise buyer personas to all potential community members, for starters. Use the technology behind the software to gather insights about their skills and interests, analyze their activities, and categorize them according to the findings you reach.
Content and social media go hand-in-hand. Without content delivery, your community has nothing to communicate about, causing it to crumble. Without social media, the content you provide can’t reach your audience easily and immediately.
Together, their potency converts passers-by into your audience, and turns your audience into your customers! Try to determine:
- The type of content you wish to publish
- The timing with which to post your content
- The frequency at which your posts get published
Mixing Types Of Media
Whether your type of content is visual imagery, audio files, or textual information determines and triggers a certain reaction from your audience. A perfect mix of all three keeps your content fresh and influential. Which emotional reaction do you wish to trigger and hone? What results do you want to achieve (e.g. sadness, happiness, determination, bliss, struggle, etc.)?
The Pareto Principle
Again, a healthy combination of many things preserves the innovative image of your brand. Use the community insights that you’ve gathered to determine the time and frequency of the greatest impact that your content will have. Also, stick to the Pareto Principle, and keep your hard-selling to about the fifth of your total content.