After spending 15 years in corporate high tech and big data product marketing and brand management it's hard not to make up a new three letter acronymn at least once a day.
The purpose of this post is to talk about the OPC. Ever heard of an “OPC?” OPC = Other People's Communities.
When we talk about communities in social media there are million ways we can slice and dice it.
A community does not just happen overnight. You can't just decide “hey, I am going to launch my product on October 1st and by October 31st I will have a line waiting to click like on my Facebook page, loads of fans visiting my Facebook page daily, an opt-in email list over flowing with qualified leads and a line of new clients ready to get out their credit card to buy from me or download my new app.” As much as we wish it worked this way, the truth is it just simply doesn't.
Building communities take time. It requires an understanding of the people within the community, their needs, their desires, the problem pain points and a framework and fabric for them to connect. It requires a respect and care for those communities and the people in them.
Things like content, conversation, education, inspiration, peers, resources, and more all help foster relationships. At the heart of community is the heart of the people. It's why I boldly believe the heartbeat of social media overall is people. It's you and me.
Why are you interested in social media?
If you are in in business you likely have an interest in leveraging social media to connect with people so that you can sell them more product or service. That's unfortunately how many business leaders new to social media explain their goals of social media to us.
Most are not clear how to use the medium but are certain they have a goal of “selling more stuff.” We work with some clients in the disaster restoration business and their favorite words are “we just need more jobs.” To them more jobs equals more cleanups of floods, water damage, fire damage, mold removal etc. It's not that they want more houses to be damaged, they just want to be the service provider contacted when and if it does happen!
You can't just go head first and sell into a community you don't know.
Just because a community exists online that matches your target demographics, doesn't mean they are ready to be your friend let alone buy from you! If you enter the community with the only goal being to sell, chances are you are going to stick out like a soar thumb in a bad way.
The tricky thing is for many to understand is that you don't just move from point A of starting social media to point Z of people buying from you. There are many things that must happen in between such as:
- Getting in the head of your audience
- Setting clear business goals and objectives
- Developing a plan that includes building relationships with real people
- Executing the plan
- Analyzing, tweaking, optimizing
- Rinsing and repeating
Inspire – Connect – Achieve
Somewhere in there you must inspire and connect with the right folks so that you can build community. If your plan does not include a way for you to provide relevance via content that resonates with your audience you are going to have a tough time building community. Why you ask? Because they are never going to be inspired to join your community in the first place.
If you look at successful online communities you will see many common themes. They usually share, communicate openly, have structure, are helpful, provide value, workout issues as needed and the list goes on.
Relationships are earned, not given.
You must earn people's trust to inspire them to click, like, tweet, retweet, share and talk about you and your product. You earn their trust and over time you educate them, make them laugh, make them do the “happy cry” and build a business or personal friendship. The relationship is something you invested in, something the other person invested in and provides a return on the time spent for both of you.
Are You Respecting the OPCs (Other People's Communities)?
Now, let's talk about the OPC. The OPC comes in when someone stops by and wants to pop into our community. You may also want to pop into, tap into or build relationships with OPCs (other people's communities.)
What do you think when you do any of the following?
- Ask someone to retweet you?
- Ask someone to share your blog on their Facebook page?
- Ask someone to post on your Facebook page?
- Ask someone or a community to click like on your Facebook page?
- Ask someone to follow you?
- Ask someone to connect with you on LinkedIn?
- Ask a group leader on LinkedIn if you can post your blog post to their community?
Are you thinking about how you are adding value to the audience? To their OPC? To the community they may have spent years nurturing and investing in the people and heartbeats within the community? Are you thinking about how you can truly inspire the OPC? Help them achieve their goals?
Or are you thinking about your own goals? Are you thinking about how you can leverage the OPC to get more retweets, more likes, more Facebook fans and more sales?
I can tell you if you are only thinking of making sales, the chances of that goal being achieved are slim to none.
Why I don't retweet You & share all of your content
I recently wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I Don't Retweet You and Your Content“. Yowza, it fired some people up. People either loved it or thought I was being overly cautious. I love this debate and wanted to continue the discussion here.
At the core, the reason I put much thought into what I share, tweet, retweet, like, post on Facebook etc. is because I care about the needs of my community. I build communities with a goal of providing them the highest possible value in everything I do. This includes communication, content via blogs, videos, inspiration, education and the list goes on. I research the community, I listen to what they are saying. I care about their feedback. I care about their needs and I do my best to learn what their goals are, what their pain points are. I study what keeps them up at night and I build the best plan I can to help them get more sleep, to solve their problems.
So tell me why, just because you have written a blog post that you want to get mucho traffic that I am required to share it with my audience? The truth is I am not. I am happy to share it if it provides value to my audience, helps them achieve their goals and I believe it is a fit with my audience.
Social Media is Not a Barter Market as in “you retweet my stuff and I'll retweet yours”
As I always teach and preach, you really need to have the objectives of your audience in the forefront of everything you are doing in social media. Because the heartbeat of social media is people, you must get to the heart of the people first with a goal of EARNING their retweet.
Be the heartbeat of social media.
Because I filter what I curate and share doesn't make me a bad tweeter or a bad business leader. I hope you are doing the same thing. Don't get bullied by those out there that want to make social media a bartering system.
Respect your community. Respect my community. Respect other people's community and they will respect you back. Be their friend. Be their helper. Be someone who inspires them and chances are they'll want to do the same for you.
Be the inspiration, be the content that helps someone solve their toughest problem. Share your best stuff that does these things and I'll be happy to retweet your blog post, share your tweet and tell people to watch you video.
Remember it is real people that are doing the reading, the watching, the clicking and buying. They may be behind an avatar or a logo. However, they are real people.
The best thing you can do if you want business results in social media is to start with the people.
Be the heartbeat!