Community Engagement Campaign Interview: Astaro

Astaro is a leading global IT security vendor with headquarters in Germany and the US, targeting small and medium-sized businesses. With the launch of their Mail Archiving product, Astaro initiated an engagement campaign within online groups reaching 1,000’s of IT administrators and professionals. Partnering with Linqia, Astaro conducted a 3-month community engagement campaign within two groups on leading Business Social Networks; LinkedIn and Xing.

Astaro’s main objective was to spark a series of conversations around the importance of mail archiving also increasing their brand awareness. In parallel, Astaro was interested in gaining deeper insights and views amongst IT professionals. By tapping into existing user communities online, Astaro was able to better understand user needs, increase awareness and uptake of the mail archiving product.

We interviewed Claudia Seeger, Eric Bégoc, Kathrin Möschle from Astaro to share their key learning’s and insights into the 3 month community engagement campaign.

How does Astaro engage with existing customers through social channels?

Very often we use twitter and facebook to report about an event with live comments, pictures etc.We also try to engage with our customers and partners through online communities such as our User Bulletin Board (for community support) or our feature request portal where users can vote for new features.This summer we initiated the Orange Summer Campaign as a photo contest asking participants to upload and vote for pictures complimented by our own photo gallery.

How does social media benefit Astaro as a brand?

Social media is an additional channel to increase Astaro’s brand awareness. We have the opportunity to reach potential customers or partners we probably wouldn’t reach through traditional channels.

Who participates in social media activities within your organization?

In Europe, the Marketing & PR team engage in social media campaigns. The support team also follows the User Bulletin Board while Product Management tracks the voting results in the Feature Request Portal.

In the US, we have a dedicated community development manager who is responsible for social media activities of all kinds with strong focus on community events.

What motivated Astaro to participate in this engagement campaign with Linqia?

The opportunity to create brand awareness, gain insights from the market, actively generate leads and create a blueprint for future community engagement campaigns.

Which factors were important to Astaro when choosing target groups for this engagement campaign?

  • IT topics discussed within the group
  • Group size
  • Group activity

What were your biggest concerns, regarding the seeding of Astaro’s content within selected groups?

It is always unclear how a community will react and how discussions will develop. It was especially difficult to start a discussion with a question which motivated members to comment without disqualifying our expert status.

Describe in a few sentences your relationship with the group leaders you were engaging with?

The relationship was very positive. Both group leaders were attentive, supportive and quick to respond. Especially the leader within the Xing group gave very good feedback on the formulation of posts, possible content and also engaged his co-moderator to spark discussions. He continuously came up with ideas on how to promote our campaign.

What was positive/negative regarding the workflow with the group leaders?

The workflow was good as both group leaders usually responded quickly. Deadlines were not always kept as promised but it never lead to major delays.

How did group members respond to you as brand representative?

Most members did not realize that I was a brand representative. I never experienced any bad reactions – some were critical but always fact based.

How did group members in general respond to the campaign?

Xing members actively engaged in our discussions and posted many comments. LinkedIn members however are a bit more reserved, showing a rather consuming nature and not commenting very much. We had some whitepaper downloads which proved that our posts were read and appreciated.

What did you find challenging during the campaign?

It was a challenge to discuss on very technical topics with very experienced IT experts. Xing members engaging in topic already had a broad knowledge and wanted to position themselves as experts.

With the lack of response within LinkedIn it was very difficult to measure whether members didn’t react because they a) were not interested in the topic, b) didn’t like the style of our postings or c) just didn’t want to engage actively. A very open question on LinkedIn stimulated some feedback but respondents did not take mail archiving into account.

What surprised you the most?

The huge response within the Xing community.

What are your top 5 best practices to engage group members from the standpoint of a brand?

  1. Prepare several topics you would like to discuss in advance. However be aware that you are the expert – don’t ask questions you should be able to answer yourself. Better not engage with the group if you don’t have the right content.
  2. Best if you know one or two community members (not colleagues as the company name is always indicated!) who could start or comment on a discussion
  3. Prepare additional trackable content adding value to your discussions
  4. Don’t hesitate to interrupt lengthy or off-topic discussions and regularly engage with the discussion: ask questions, provide more detailed information or best practices of your customer
  5. Try to summarize results (even during discussions) for new “followers” and those members who only read through threads without actively commenting

From a scale 1-10. How effective was this campaign, compared to general social media marketing activities like using, twitter, facebook, youtube etc., to seed content.

My rating is based on this assumption: 1= much worse, 5= equal, 10= much better than other social media activities:

  • Xing: 10
  • LinkedIn: 3

And where do you see the differences?

  • Twitter and Facebook: we use both channels for giving Astaro a “human face”. We publish pictures of our barbecue event, orange summer voting campaign, industry-related topics or blog posts
  • YouTube: is the platform to host and share videos we can link to from other social media channels.

What was your biggest key learning from this pilot?

A community campaign can work and even generate leads – as long as you choose the right community.

Would you consider another engagement campaign in near future and why/why not?

Yes, because our experiences with the Xing community were very positive and as we now have a clear blueprint, content to support the engagement and topics to discuss it is easy to reproduce the campaign within other communities.

 

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