Taking The Viral Community to the mainstream

Call me naive, but I have always seen marketing as something more than simply a 'necessary evil'. In fact, I believe marketing, if used properly, is a tool that can not only give customers what they want and need more efficiently, but in turn will benefit the companies that serve their communties, by lowering costs, and allowing companies to give customers exactly what they want, when they want it, which leads to greater goodwill between companies and the communities they serve.

Of course, this happens when companies are clued in enough to embrace and empower their communities.

But the problem is, for many companies, this is a total shift in mindset, that the customer is a person that has equal, or even greater control over the company's marketing message, than the company itself. For companies that have an entire corporate culture built around 'push' marketing, they can't switch gears overnight and move toward a 'pull' relationship with their communities. But the journey of a thousand miles....

Bloggers as a group, are seeing firsthand the power of joining and empowering their communities. But at the same time, I feel we need to find a way to move the principles of community-building and empowering to the mainstream. These are powerful ideas that could have a profound affect on how companies reach and service their communities. I have talked to Ann about this repeatedly, and she had a great post on Daily Fix recently about how companies need to find ways to become more 'conversational'.

As a group, I have always felt that we bloggers take ourselves entirely too seriously. And some of it is understandable, we are clued in to online communities that we have joined and created, that the 'mainstream' has overlooked, or flatly ignored. In doing so, we are seeing firsthand the awesome power of the community, while learning and creating invaluable marketing methods for reaching, empowering, and growing our communities.

But I think we also have a greater responsibility to 'the people' to find ways to bring the ideas of community building/embracing/empowering to the 'mainstream', so that all parties can benefit. Of course, the $64,000 question is....how?

I have a feeling there is no one 'right' answer. I think '100 CDs for 100 Bloggers' is an example of embracing and empowering communities. There are no doubt a universe of other examples, maybe even you have some?

As I told Ann on Daily Fix:"Here we have some of the smartest marketing minds in the world reading and writing for this blog, and instead of discussing how we can use this exciting media to better serve our communities, all we want to talk about is ourselves and our blogs.".

Again, maybe it's another sign of my bad self-promotional skills, but I'd rather talk about ways we can show companies how to embrace and empower their communities, and maybe even change the (marketing) world.

Wouldn't you? I thought I'd tap into the power of The Viral Community, and see what ideas you guys can come up with. If you have any thoughts, please add them in the comments.

Pic via Flickr user xeer.


posted by Mack Collier @ 11:11 AM,

6 Comments:

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous "David" said...

"As I told Ann on Daily Fix:" Here we have some of the smartest marketing minds in the world reading and writing for this blog, and instead of discussing how we can use this exciting media to better serve our communities, all we want to talk about is ourselves and our blogs.".

Mack,
I agree with this comment—it's been on my mind lately. Bloggers tend to enjoy talking about the state of blogs, bloggers and blogging. Take a look at the Daily Fix—many of the posts that generate the most discussion are focused on blogging.

In my mind, blogs or even the broader community are a means to a a bigger end. It's all part of a larger movement that empowers everyday people. But to your point—mainstream forces cannot be ignored. Maybe part of the answer is engaging them as much as we engage ourselves?

 
At 3:10 PM, Blogger J.D. said...

I do believe that a modicum of self-promotion is necessary, and the discussion of blog does help toward that end. After all, what good does it do you to shout all day long about great ideas if no one is in hearing range? It would be sort of like me interviewing Bon Jovi and then making my blog private.

That said, though, there does come a point when we need to move past that and reach out to the community.

Mack, if you ever decide to quit the marketing biz, you should definitely go into the ministry. You'd have the biggest church in the state before you knew it.

 
At 5:38 PM, Blogger Kim Klaver said...

Seems to me the hard part is defining your 'community' as a marketer of something, when you are not already the loved star, e.g. Jewel.

Marketers are not loved like a performer is, by her community/fans.

If someone is marketing say, soap, or Fords, WHO is the community they should be looking to talk to, much less, join?

Isn't that the hard question?

I have an interest in a tiny start up company that makes and marketd a concentrated daily nutritional supplement.

I do this because I am a health and nutrition nut, have been for 25 years. So my 'community' to find, join and converse with is anyone who 'knows nutrition's important,' and who knows they 'need to supplement.'

And that is my starting place.

How about for others here? What are you marketing and who is your community?

 
At 4:32 AM, Blogger Donncha said...

Glad you found a use for my image, and thank you for linking back!

Donncha (Xeer)

 
At 11:46 PM, Anonymous Morriss Partee said...

The cover of this month's Wired magazine is the words "MySpace" superimposed over a smiling (gloating? smirking?) Rupert Murdoch.

I don't think we need to do anything special to engage the mainstream media... they have found us. And you may not consider Wired as part of the mainstream... but now that it's appeared there, it will soon be appearing everywhere else eventually too. Business Week has several blogs, and now the NY Times is writing articles on the subject.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger Mack Collier said...

"If someone is marketing say, soap, or Fords, WHO is the community they should be looking to talk to, much less, join?

Isn't that the hard question?"

Do a quick Google search and you'll come up with many if not hundreds of online groups and forums for almost any product you can imagine, and some you can't.

The communities are there, we just have to find and embrace them.

 

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