Building your Community Layers

Community is at the centre of so much that we do, and we are constantly finding new ways to build communities around ourselves. We are now participating in multiple communities. We have our immediate neighbourhoods. Then we have our local towns or cities. In larger cities we might think of our neighbourhood as being a bigger influence than the whole city all at once.

Then we have work communities, which can be especially differentiated when we live in a different community from the one we work in.

We have social networks of friends. This can often include a broad geographic spectrum of people we’ve met and become close with over time. Colleagues from past jobs and previous homes, people we went to school with, etc.

And more broadly we have the community of people we may never have met who have gathered around us virtually in support of what we’re dong online – be it just one social media platform like instagram, a blog, or an online business presence.

Buzz Word: Authenticity

Authenticity is the buzzword of the moment. With everyone living so much of our lives online there’s a widespread understanding that we’re all curating what everyone else sees. We are selecting images, videos, settings, outfits and every other detail to suit the version of ourselves we want people to know.

This can mean entire angles, entire stories and aspects of a person are left off of their instagram feed and their followers are left with big gaps. They feel, then, that they are not being told the truth because the story they are being told is so incomplete.

This lead to an influx of social media giants posting to fill that gap – posting their rolls, their cellulite, their unflattering angles, their bad days. They did this to create a more whole and complete image of themselves online. To help their followers overcome some of the self-image issues that arise when we spend all day viewing only the best angles of everybody else, while seeing all our own “imperfections”.

The challenge is that now even the way these “authentic” posts are presented feels a little… hollow. I see many on social media being very mistrustful. They question the motives of those who post the traditionally hidden sides of themselves. They question efforts of posters to “be authentic”. It’s understandable. Authenticity, by its very definition, resists being performed or intentionally committed. It’s difficult to curate something and create authenticity. Particularly for a generation that was taught in many ways curate to an extreme and to reserve our authentic selves as exclusive to our “offline” lives.

So how do you incorporate authenticity? How do you participate in and deliver what is craved by the masses, without having it ring hollow for your followers?

In business it can look many ways – such as posting the behind the scenes, your processes, and the ways in which your business is growing and evolving.

It can also mean showing yourself as the business owner or employee, and including a human face while talking about and showcasing your products.

Another way you might incorporate this trend is by shoutout and supporting other businesses. With the curation that authenticity pushes against came an undercurrent of competition. When businesses shout out and support each other they move past this competitive attitude and start to show a more personal, connected and community based attitude.

To have the best idea of how you want to engage with the authenticity trend we have to think about where it comes from

The push against curation and competition

Being Social & Making a Sale

Increasingly we are living our lives online, and the global pandemic has only increased the rate at which we are transferring our in-person interactions to virtual ones. Even though some days it looks and feels extremely different it’s important to remember that what we’re doing online has direct parallels to “real life”, and therefore we already have some time-tested rules about how to behave.

This is true when it comes to selling – selling a product, a service, an idea – whatever it is that you’re selling online you still need to consider the experience of the customer.

So let’s take it all the way to the store front. Some stores encourage their employees to be eager and aggressive in their customer interactions. They greet you immediately and insist on telling you about sales, specials, new products or whatever else management asked them to push. They practically follow you around the store and pressure you towards a purchase if you so much as glance at a product.

Nobody likes this.

Other stores play a more “hard to get” game. The staff are aloof. They gaze at you in an uninterested way. They make their customers feel judged and project a lack of interest. These are often stores with high-priced items and they are trying to cultivate a culture of exclusivity. For them, the customer is only worth interacting with once their wallet is out.

I’ve never met anyone who enjoys this any more so than the eager and aggressive sales tactics.

That leaves us with a fine balance. We like to be greeted and acknowledged, as customers, but not smothered. We like to have information that is accessible and clear, but we still want to be in control of when and how we consume that information. As customers we are seeking the right mix of support and engagement, with personal space and independence from those who are selling something to us.

Since we can understand what we want as customers alongside the trends and strategies that are widely appreciated or widely avoided, we already know how we should behave when we are the ones with something sell.

This carries over form the store front to the website.n Give your customers lots of information that is clear and easy for them to consume on their terms. If it makes sense for your business to offer a live chat feature, then do that, but don’t bombard your website visitors with chats, pop ups and a maze of distractions and offers.

Bottom line: You know what you have and why people should buy it. If you’re looking for some support in how to connect you and your product with customers in a meaningful and engaging way than feel free to get in touch! I offer strategy sessions and marketing consultations, or full on marketing management and social media management. You keep being awesome at what you do and let me take care of getting the word out there.