Engaging Groups: Going Gaga for Transparency

The key for any advertiser getting started in a group campaign is to acknowledge that they don’t know what they don’t know. Advertisers don’t know groups.

Sure they’ve spent a fortune on garnering demographics and compiling an impressive stack of statistics, but numbers alone don’t reveal the nuances of individual experience and they can’t accurately predict how a group will react to their advertising content.

To begin to really understand what motivates an individual to contribute to group discussion, advertisers must turn to the Group Leader.The Group Leader better than anyone else can reveal a long history of engagement.

Advertisers must learn to appreciate what a unique vantage point the Group Leader has. He (or she) can anticipate what his members will like, dislike, be passionate about or even revolt against.

He knows what kind of content gets the most clicks, what discussions are most likely to generate heat or cause infectious laughter, spirited debate, thoughtfulness, creativity, insight, empathy or knowledge.

Group Leaders have bought together hundreds and thousands of people; all bought together by common interest, cause or experience.Usually the Group Leader themselves shares this in common.

For example, the Group Leader of a weight-loss community may well have undergone a personal weight-loss journey of their own and created a community to share and encourage others on the same journey.

Sharing with a group is often cathartic. Groups offer a sense of camaraderie and the opportunity to genuinely connect. Therefore the most active, vibrant groups are bound together by trust and openness, and more often than not, it’s the Group Leader that leads by example.

So how does a Group Leader introduce an advertiser into his or her group?

He needs to continue to communicate openly with his group. Any pending advertising campaign must be made transparent. The advertising campaign might be a product trial, a competition entry or simply a question to answer.

Therefore the Group Leader may post an introduction on the community noticeboard or the community blog. They might send out a direct email invitation to participate or inform group members.

What language they use; what tone they set is entirely up to them. They communicate with their members, day in day out. They know what to say and how to say it.

Typically clear and concise is best. For example:

“I’d like to welcome [Advertiser X] to our community.

[Advertiser X] will be running a social media content campaign within our group for the next month. What is a social media content campaign?Well, [Advertiser X] would like us to contribute to their campaign. They would appreciate it if we could …”

Advertisers might ask group members to trial a product; answer a question; share knowledge; provide feedback or apply creativity. The Group Leader may then elaborate and sign off with something like the following, for example;

“[Advertiser X] has offered us an assortment of content to download into the group. You may wish to view, comment, share, like, dislike, reject or embrace. It’s entirely up to you. I’ll be on hand to hear your thoughts. Get in touch.”

The message is simple and to the point. Of course the anticipated upshot of a social media content campaign is to encourage or entrench advertiser-consumer relationships.

Branded content is distributed into online groups to spark conversation-led advertising campaigns. However unlike traditional advertising, conversation-led campaigns welcome the entire spectrum of consumer reactions.

The Group Leader downloads whatever content he feels will add the most value to his community and at what time and where within the site they feel it’s best suited. The Group Leader needs to provide a specific place to post reactions and garner activity around content.

For example, if the first piece of content prompt a good number of posts, the Group Leader may suggest it’s best to let the conversation continue rather than to try and “hijack” attention to another piece of content.

But what happens when an advertiser wishes to participate in group conversation?

Again the key is transparency. Beyond speaking with the Group Leader to understand what tone and language they might use to post comments and ask questions, it’s also a good idea for the advertiser to spend some time in the community beforehand.

Spending time in the community, observing the tone and nature of the conversation is a practical start to any social media campaign.

If an advertiser doesn’t possess the expertise to post on a particular subject, then the advertiser shouldn’t position themselves as an expert. Group members will inevitably see right through it and consequently they may feel deceived.

Better to bring in experts or pool employee resources to answer specialised questions rather than try and position themselves as an expert.

Finally the advertiser needs to collaborate with the Group Leader and listen to what group members have to say. Ultimately, everyone involved in an online group endeavour to foster the natural ebb and flow of human engagement.

1 comment
  1. arnaud said:


    I think you have a great model for advertisers but a difficult one to implement with influencial communities. I need to be convinced that community leaders will be happy to spend time promotting a brand, a product or a service when in return they get pay on a performance basis.

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