Finally up!! This is a wrap up of one of my favorite SXSWi discussions. Stephen Houghton (of CLIF bars) lead a discussion on marketing and community outreach for marketers as learned through the online crafting world.
Some sites to know in the crafting world:
- www.ravelry.com – Over 300,000 active users on on Ravelry in less than 3 years. Started after a request for an online representation of a knitter’s 3-ring binder.
- www.twistcollective.com – started by indie knit designers that wanted to take online only publishing into their own hands. Readers pay per pattern.
Online spots like Flickr groups help people connect and teach other, also to market and to share messages visually.
Artist Larissa Brown had an art installation of 100s of hats (meat head art project – see the Flickr group here) – when installation was over, she donated to charity and held shows specifically for charitable purposes. Held a knitalong to collect enough hats and spread the word.
Secret pal exchanges – like sockapalooza – kind of like secret santa, someone organizes online and you get a secret pal and exchange packages with a stranger in line with a theme.
Knitters online do a lot of modifications online – mashups and one-offs using everyday products.
Why are knitters online? Marketing Coraline (a movie) was afraid of being marketed as a child’s movie and wanted something more unique and ‘less fluffy’. All of the clothing (Althea Chrome of Bugknits) was handmade all on sewing needles.
Found old boxes with artifacts from the film inside and sent to knitters – here’s something for you and your community. Key had a tag with URL (www.coraline.com) and a code to unlock a featurette of Althea knitting Coraline’s sweaters months before the movie set out.
nipperknits – Jenn Jarvis – was hired to create pattern of a life-size sweater pattern from the film for the knitters to use. Knitters were only one piece of the strategy – but a strong part. Box office results
Top 50 sites that referred to the movie sites were ravelry, knitty and nipperknits — could see how knitters banded together and drove a TON of traffic. Tricky part came when marketers had to login as personal identity (as a marketer reaching out to public), was uncomfortable at first to be pushing corporate line, but the audience and project was just too perfect and personal so it turned out well.
The key was that they weren’t using or preying on a community, rather they were making a very personal connection. Point was not ‘how are we going to blast the message’ all PR-style. Rather was to reach out to very specific and cross-over knitting related Bloggers and communities. Must get over notion that you have a sliver reach – it’s everything combined that has meaning (not just one blogger that seems niche). It’s not about who is a target (who is this campaign against!?!?), instead it’s about who can you build up and connect with.
What makes a successful marketing community?
- Must meet needs of users – not just a place to talk about stuff, must do what it needs to do
You can never predict what people want in your community – definite element of letting go and this can be difficult. Interesting example of unexpected interest – www.cheaptweets.com got a HUGE following of Etsy sellers, very different than the other major corporate sponsors involved. Just have to go with it.
Just like knitters, architects like to show off their stuff. Architectural Digest ran a community that let architects share their photos, building materials, etc. This all drove traffic to their site and drove subscription numbers.
Woot t-shirts another great community example – started with discussions on designs, then community grew You can do it with almost any models, but you must be aware of how you are going to keep the crap out. Find the trusted people in those communities and let them help you do your work.
To create a good community, you must have a product that people care about. Without passion, creating community becomes problematic. Need to take a look at how consumers are intimate and emotionally connected with your brand.