Creating a new channel is hard, whatever your reason for doing so. Whether it’s for marketing, community engagement, customer service or for good old-fashioned publishing, reaching a new audience takes plenty of work.
It’s often the first question marketers of new products and services ask – how do I find an audience? Though the question is better phrased as how do I grow the right audience?
An audience only has sustainable value for your business if they are engaged with you in a reliable way.
Not all channels are created equal because not all content is equal. Some content is inherently more interesting, more important and hence stickier than others.
Take the list of leaders in any community. As human beings, we are pre-programmed to look at the actions of leaders – whether we realise it consciously or not. Each of us takes social cues from the dominant influencers in our tribe and we use this to guide our behaviour. Try not yawning if the top dogs in the room are doing just that.
With that in mind, it’s pretty important for any community member to know who the real leaders are for any community. And if the community is exclusive, aspiring community members may also take an interest.
With traditional organisations and associations, tracking the leaders turns out to be fairly easy – companies have senior management teams, associations have elected board members and schools have head teachers and governors. The leaders are visible, their roles defined, easy to see and thus, easy to copy, mimic and, where relevant, obey.
In a modern digital tribe or marketplace of equals, this is more difficult to do. Particularly in new and emerging disciplines. There is no CEO of the upcoming “grime” music genre. For “gamification” technology trends there is no senior management team to turn to for advice.
Over time, associations will form that offer clarity over leadership, such as what the institute of chartered accountants does for accountancy professionals or the royal college of surgeons does in medicine. But, unless they have near 100% membership they will lack full authority and while they do there will be other associations competing for authority. The Gamification “industry” for example, has at least 3 non-profit associations seeking to offer sector wide leadership, in the fragmented world of marketing there are many, many more.
So, this is the landscape into which you are presenting your own list of community leaders – your Rise influencer board.
The statement you are making is threefold:
- These are the leaders of our tribe. These are the most influential community members – follow them and learn from them.
- This is the most up to date list of leaders in our tribe.
- The way to achieve leadership is encapsulated in the scoring system built into the board.
Those are 3 pretty interesting claims. They should make any member of the community sit up and take note of you. Which, if you are in the business of creating a new channel, is exactly what you want!
We’ve seen with Rise though, that there are good and bad influencer boards, good and bad channels. Like any tool, Rise can be used well and sometimes badly.
In my own experience, I’ve noticed a few areas of best practice:
- Launched with a bang. With a Rise board you are publicly making a statement. The louder and clearer that statement is, the more your impact.
- Positioned clearly with the value spelt out:
- What’s it in it for the players? What does being on the board mean for them? What would it mean to lead the board?
- What’s in it for the followers? Why should I become an engaged audience member of the board?
- Designed in context. Does the board’s visuals fit the tribe being tracked? A grime music board with pink livery would clearly be inauthentic.
- Human touch. Tribes whether made up of people or organisations are still a very human institution. A Rise board that is too automated, too robotic, too bare, conveys a different message from one run by someone who is a passionate advocate (and perhaps member) of the tribe’s values.
- Light hearted. Digital tracking is still an inexact science. It is not wise to claim too much authority, at least not until you’ve got it right.
- A mix of meat and fat. A Rise board is like a side of lean beef, it is wholesome but you need the fat to really bring out the full value. Mixing up your Rise board with fattier, fluffier content about the players (who went up this week, their opinion on current trends, how do they do their hair, what is their favourite film of the moment and so on) can bring much needed flavour to your board, and with flavour comes an audience.
- Creeping authority. Whether you launched with a bang or not, your board needs to become a creeping authority for your sector. You are making a statement about leadership so you will need to deepen your program over time. This might be to get rid of other pretenders by being the most authoritative or it might be by simply driving more saturation among your target audience.For each influencer channel the next steps following launch will be different – it might mean giving digital badges for particular achievements, evolving the score algorithm or changing the structure of the league. Each board evolves at its own rate but evolve it must. No community stays still forever. The trick is evolving in the interests of all – you as manager, the players and the followers.
The rewards of your influencer channel should now be obvious – you have become the place every member of the community must turn to do to discover the leaders of that community. With the leaders they receive social cues to guide their own behaviour.
Now, what’s really interesting is that a Rise board isn’t just any old media channel. It’s not like a blog where you are leveraging the power of the media (to observe and comment). With a successful Rise board you become an integral part of the community governance structure – you have the role of kingmaker.
Now that’s a very interesting place to be.
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