Growth of Micro-Communities

by - 21:16

Have you noticed a sudden increase in the number of micro-communities on Facebook? What is your brand's strategy on engagement and selling on these groups? Many brands are not even thinking at marketing their services or products in this segment, however I have seen some wonderful examples of social selling with word of mouth, partnerships and zero money involved on Facebook groups. The segment is not naive but is unexplored in the entire social media strategy.

What are micro-communities?
A group of any size on a social platform with it's members having something in common - it could be a hobby, location, nature of work or simply networking group.

Many examples include parenting groups, working women groups, mommy groups, book reading groups, fitness groups, selling groups, health groups, cause based groups, city based groups, marketing groups and many more are on the rise.

How are they different from Facebook brand pages?

  1. A page is managed by a brand where people engage with brand's content. A group/micro-community is created, people join it and become an active part in sharing their views, selling their products or services and discussing what's new.
  2. To make the content reach all its fans, brands have to invest in an ad. Micro-communities run completely on word of mouth and there is no requirement of Facebook advertising.
  3. The members are highly engaged in a group/micro-community whereas brands have to spend high amount of money to get the attention of their target customer group on their page.
  4. Audience is highly focused on an agenda of the group whereas brand's fan following is extremely diverse.
Many multilevel marketing brands like Avon, Oriflame, Tupperware, Herbalife, Shaklee, Mary Kay and Pampered Chef are already harnessing the power of micro communities because of their business model that involves chain of consultants. However, majority of the multinational brands are not focusing their attention towards these ready-made set of audience.

How can brands be active and yet subtle in selling on these groups?
  1. Engage with influencers: Stop making your hashtag trend on Twitter unnecessarily or even worse, stop paying a blogger or influencer for one post on social media. It is not going to yield result and last-long. Find an influencer who is active on these groups, who can participate in the discussions and market your brand.
  2. Motivate your employees to become brand ambassador: Employees should become a voice for their brands on these groups. Find out conversations where you as an employee can subtly talk about your product or service offering. What's the harm in talking about a brand which focuses on nutrition if the conversation is all about dieting fads. Best example of this is Richard Branson or Elon Musk - they market their brands on all social platforms like a king.
  3. Targeted marketing: I see perfect fit for brands to partner with these groups. The key is that the employees have to take the initiative in joining these groups and then marketing it like a pro. Let us look at the hypothetical examples here:
    • A fitness brand (say Nike, Fabletics or Fitbit) becomes a sponsor of 5K Women Run. The brand partners with a women group and encourages the participation. 
    •  A company like Khan Academy or Udemy arranges a talk especially for the members of a marketing group and then running a promotion on their courses for the attendees.
    • A furniture re-selling group can have a partner brand which is into home furnishings and can run regular promotions on that group
    • Nestle' conducts some great initiatives with mommy groups
If you ask me about the potential of investing in micro-communities, here are some of the biggest benefits that I can see -

  • Organic reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Conversations & engagement
  • Reaching the laser targeted audience 
  • Possible increase in sales
Well, much to a large extent, aren't these the objectives of advertising on Facebook? 
I am not concluding that all of the above would come for free but many marketing objectives will be guaranteed and achieved, it will create high brand recall and of course an opportunity to re-target and convert more customers, all of this at much lower cost!   

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