Last week I used a symbol some people
didn’t know ‘CoP’.
It meant a community of practice,
essentially a community for people that participate in the same activity
together. By using that symbol I excluded a large % of readers in exchange for
the specific people I wanted to reach.
If you recognized the symbol, you were more
likely to read the post. If you didn’t, you were less likely.
Community efforts are usually targeted at a
specific segment of the total audience. Your community might live in the
automobile ecosystem, but your target audience might be 40+ drivers.
To attract this audience, you need to use
symbols that have a specific meaning to that audience. This means identifying
words, events, activities, objects and anything else that has a specific
meaning to this group.
To learn the symbols you need to speak to
the audience. You need to identify the language that comes up
(phrases/expressions used), the events/activities they discuss, the cultural,
the specific interests and motivations they have. Look for the specific things
they mention that you have no idea about.
reach any specific audience you need to flood your community with symbols that
appeal to the group you’re trying to reach. Embed
these symbols in community. Refer to them in the website copy, the confirmation
e-mail, news posts etc.. Name areas of the community after these symbols. Let
members use them in their profiles. Even use a symbol in the name of the community
other important lesson is exclusion. You have to exclude the majority of the
audience you want, for the minority of the audience you can get.
Some further reading material:
p.s. I'll be speaking about branded online communities on board the HMS President today for OMN London. If you want to attend, click here.