Now imagine I’ve put a ten point linear scale in front of you, with 1 marked as ‘predictable’ and 10 marked as ‘bizarre’. Where on that scale are you going to mark the content of the brand or person you chose?
Chances are, if you’re really, truly honest, it’ll be on the lower end of that scale. And there are many reasons why that might be the case, from regulatory and legal limitations to lack of creative inspiration to lack of understanding of the social media mindset to good old fear.
But whatever the reason, you’ll never build a truly engaged online community until you can let go of the reigns, bypass your control freak tendencies and welcome in a bit of uncertainty and chaos.
[Tweet “To build an engaged community, welcome uncertainty and a little bit of madness”]
Weird engagement is good engagement
The most engaged community I know of on the web is on the Spin Sucks blog. I am reliably informed by head honcho Gini Dietrich that their posts can gain well over 100 comments. When commenting on blogs is supposedly dying as conversation fragments across social networks, that’s pretty extraordinary.
But you know what? Spin Sucks also has the most random, weird and downright odd community of people I’ve ever encountered.
Gini et all have a name for them: the Spin Sucks Crazies. Maybe your [sic] one of them? If so, hello (he says, nervously). I’ve left you a little gift here – you’ll like it, I promise. I’ll wait for you.
A couple of years back I was formerly introduced to the Crazies via Spin Sucks’ FollowFriday feature. Amid the 55 comments on that post, I was subjected to what the army calls a ‘beasting’. I haven’t been back since 🙂
Joking aside though, what happens within the Spin Sucks community is a wonderful lesson in building trust and advocacy. Pick any post and many of the comments will be random conversations between two or more of The Crazies using the post to tease and joke with one another. But underneath it all, The Crazies totally respect Gini and her crew for their opinions and their knowledge.
I’ve worked with brands who’d go into crisis mode if someone mentioned something off-topic on their social channels, no matter how harmless. They’d certainly never encourage it. But the craziness and the creativity within a community is what makes it hum.
Where to find randomness
Have a think for a moment about your own communities. Where are those gems of random, fun conversation likely to happen? The truth is, you probably don’t know. And it differs from brand to brand and from person to person.
The inimitable Danny Brown says he’s seen massive uptake on Google+ recently and has now implemented a commenting system on his blog that relies heavily on that network. Personally, I’ve seen an uptick in (sometimes weird) engagement on my posts on Facebook over the last few weeks. Like I say, it varies.
But wherever that is, too many brands and companies are scared of having fun and desperately lack any sort of personality online. What they don’t understand is that you have to earn the right to market to someone through social media. And the way to do that is to build a relationship with them founded on trust, goodwill, openness and other very emotional, human characteristics. Like fun.
[Tweet “You have to earn the right to market to people through social media by building trust”]
Authenticity and transparency are hardly new concepts to social communications. But so few brands truly understand what they mean.
So come on, social marketing types. When did life get so serious?
Going back to the scale we spoke about at the start of this post, have a think about how you can push the needle of your own content one point along that line. For you, ‘crazy’ might just mean removing your logo from images you post on Facebook (steady…!), but try bringing a little crazy into your life and into your communities. In the long run, it’ll pay off.
If you’re one of The Crazies, please leave a comment below and say hi! But no beasting… 🙂
This post is part of the Spin Sucks Scavenger Hunt (see? Crazy…) You’ve still got time to join in the fun, but it’s running out fast!
Also, if you buy a copy of Spin Sucks the book before 8th March, Gini will send a free package of goodies your way. Just email your receipt and mailing address to iboughtspinsucks@