Build An Extraordinary Social Community for Your Business — Mack Fogelson

Mack Fogelson is the founder & CEO of Mack Web, a community-building web marketing company.

Your team works with marketers on everything from content strategy to user experience. What are you seeing trend and change? What opportunities should we be paying attention to?

I focus a lot of my reading and research on the sustainability of marketing. I have a passion for how companies can use marketing not only to attract the right customers and keep them long term, but also how they can build better businesses in the process.

Obviously content is a huge trending topic and has been for a while, for good reason. What I’d really love to see within that trend is a shift away from ‘content as the stuff that needs to show up on your blog and website at designated intervals’ and toward the meaning behind the content you’re creating.

It’s not enough to perfect the frequency and formatting of our content, we need to be thinking about the whole cross-channel experience (content, social & community, SEO, email, offline, paid).

I hope the conversation moves away from the mechanics of content and toward the creation of powerful, purposeful, and personalized content that accomplishes real-world goals for the companies producing it. Making an authentic connection with the people who come in contact with their brand is the natural result of intentional, well-researched, strategically deployed content.

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“It’s not enough to perfect the frequency and formatting of our content, we need to be thinking about the whole cross-channel experience (content, social & community, SEO, email, offline, paid).”

Because here’s the trend I see in the major wins we’ve had with the things we’ve been testing lately – rather than what our industry is talking about: the best response is coming from the big, non-scalable, non-mass-producible stuff that takes a lot of time of effort.

Things like reaching out on an individual, one-to-one basis to the key people and companies we want to attract to our community. Integrating all the channels to work together not just to promote the business but to improve it.

Combining the effort, the integration, and an extremely genuine approach to both in order to help companies grow, achieve their goals, and win long-term: this is where I see the future of sustainable digital marketing.

Why is community building so important for marketers?

‘Community’ has become quite the buzzword but I’m not sure we’re all fully defining what we mean by the term. It’s not fluffy and it’s not something you can automate or sideline. What I most want to communicate is that building community is a whole lot more than hiring a community manager and engaging on Twitter.

The point I want to convey is that companies don’t build communities, people do. And people build communities with those they respect, admire, enjoy, and need. So to gather a community around their brands, companies have to do the work to make sure they’re living up to those expectations. They have to find the passion, heart, and desire to relentlessly improve their products, services, and the experience their customers have with them each and every day. Those customers will be attracted to, will want to be a part of, the something that sits at the core of the business.

“The point I want to convey is that companies don’t build communities, people do. And people build communities with those they respect, admire, enjoy, and need.”

And that something has to be real. This is the stuff that cannot be faked. Consumers are looking for companies that may not be perfect but that are willing to be human, to be transparent, authentic, and genuine. Businesses that can offer them that will find themselves with a strategic advantage over their competition, because they will build and foster a community of loyal advocates not just for the their products but their brands.

And all of the hard work that goes into building and fostering that community will also build a better business, one that will make an impact on the world, in ways small and large, and be around for a long, long time to do it.

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What marketing resources do you love these days? What should marketers put on their read/watch list?

– Brains on Fire is a great book that will help companies better understand how communities (and movements) are ignited and formed. The book provides all kinds of examples about how to foster and harness this passion.

– Rich Millington also is a great resource both from his book on Building Communities and on his blog. His company FeverBee is also holding a conference in San Francisco at the end of October that will be full of actionable awesomeness for all of us community minded individuals.

-Certainly we’d love to share our community building guide with as many passionate marketers and companies as possible and we always have lots of great stuff on our blog. It’s a great resource for integrated marketing knowledge. Each week we typically discuss integrated marketing measurement, tactics, and using content, social media, email, SEO, and community to grow a better business.

Looking for more about building a social media community? See Teach for America’s interview about Closing the Content Loop.