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The Anatomy of a Meaningful Community

Posted by loganlenz

What’s the default reply to naysayers who claim social media never yields a positive ROI?

“Build a community!”

But it’s not just about building a community anymore. Too many marketers quantify “community” with meaningless numbers. That’s why the reply must be tweaked a bit. 

“Build a community THAT CARES!”

“Where is everybody?” are the words typically muttered from marketers sitting on a Facebook page or Twitter account all day. Content can quickly becomes akin to Morse code as we strive to find some form of refuge in the way of a meaningful conversation with another human being.

The evolving discussions regarding building a community around your product/brand/mission has become focused on storytelling. I tend to gravitate toward content that fulfills at least one of three needs: 

  1. Thrill
  2. Teach
  3. Touch

Consider the content you have most recently absorbed online. Was it a video? An image? A blog post? Where did you find it? Which website? How did you find it? Did a friend tell you about it?

The above three attributes, which I have appropriately dubbed The 3 T’s of Content Marketing, should be the focus of any goal you are trying to reach. Each piece of content that is written should drive an overarching story or message. It should speak to readers on a personal level while improving their day significantly in some way.

Teaching and Thrilling are the two items on the list that are most tangible and identifiable to marketers. We watch comedic sketches to laugh. We tune into sporting events for the excitement of the competition. When it comes to Teaching, we choose to absorb as much knowledge as possible to improve an aspect of our lives. We’re all content sponges who understand the type of information is necessary to make us smarter or better at something in particular.

The most difficult of the 3 T’s to succeed with in content marketing, however, is Touch. While it’s arguably just as subjective as the others on the list, it’s difficult to show vulnerability as a writer and allow others into a story that might otherwise be comfortably tucked away in private.

The #TurtlePowerForJames Campaign

I’m going to share a sample case study that is very special to me and my hometown. While we never hope for bad things to happen to anyone, the following example of community building is the purest form of quality humanity and selflessness I have ever witnessed first-hand. 

It’s a sad and touching story that also manages to intersect at the cross section  street of hope and courage.

On May 30, 2014, two-year-old James Edwards nearly drowned after falling into his family’s pool. He was rushed to the hospital and remain in PICU fighting with the strength that the family has dubbed “Turtle Power,” named for James’s favorite cartoon characters, the Ninja Turtles. The family launched a campaign and associated Facebook page to gather positive thoughts and prayers to aid James’s recovery and to boost the overall morale of his loved ones

Within 24 hours of the page being published (on June 1), the page experienced 7,000 likes and continued to increase consistently throughout the first week. By June 8, the page had already garnered nearly 24,000 likes. 

With the new Facebook Insights layouts, we were able to look at different trends taking place. An example of these trends is Net Likes, or the difference in likes from a day-to-day basis.

Facebook also allows you to review where your likes come from. This report seems a bit messy since the graph below shows two different access points, while considering all mobile likes as “uncategorized.” This makes me curious to see how a categorized mobile like would be displayed.

The Facebook page quickly became an outlet for the family to communicate with the surrounding community that was attentively awaiting updates on James’s health. One post per day was published on average and the engagement levels of each post were simply astounding.

Facebook’s Post Reach Insight demonstrates impressions, or how many Facebook users actually see/read the published post. The graph below shows the reach topping out at about 192,000 organic impressions. Touching stories travel fast.

The updates being published on the page became increasingly more positive. James’s family launched a #PayItForward campaign to help bring the city together through generosity and humility. (There will be more information on that campaign later in the post.)

The engagement metrics that Facebook shares with page owners is what marketers can spend most our time dissecting: Which posts were liked, shared and commented on? Why? These types of analytics tell us what works and what doesn’t in content marketing. Of course, these particular posts are all updates on the same ongoing story, but the fluctuations in the chart below can provide plenty of clarity on which posts the community connected with most.

The Total Reach of the Turtle Power for James Edwards page reveals that over 405,000 people were exposed to some sort of post or activity surrounding the Facebook page and story. This is different from Post Reach in that this one includes all updates, not just posts originating from the page itself.

Facebook allows publishers to optimize their page with tabs. In this case, only the About and Photos tabs were being utilized. As you can see below, however, most of the visits to the page were by visitors who presumably  wanted to scan the timeline for the most recent updates.

As the story of James and the #TurtlePowerForJames campaign became more widely distributed and was picked up by news outlets, like Today.com, the page started to become a forum for others to share their thoughts, prayers and, in some cases, even their own similar stories. The number of third party posts on the page elevated to over 1,000 on a single day.

For B2B or B2C marketers with Facebook pages, it’s inevitable that we link out to our own blog posts and products in hopes to capitalize on our Facebook community engaging with our flagship content. This particular story only linked out to more information for the readers. The blog posts and local news reports, for example, were often posted as updates.

Another way to optimize your content marketing efforts is to publish posts based on when your community is most active. Below you’ll find a chart that I have named “The Whale Effect.” You see some decent engagement at midnight, little to no engagement in the middle of the night, and then a continuing slight upward trajectory throughout the day between the opening of business hours and 9pm. Finally, there is another downward slope as users go to sleep at night. The result is a shape that resembles that of a whale.

What about different types of posts? Do people react differently to photos vs. videos? Plain text vs. post with links? The chart below tells us the reach and engagement of each different type of post. 

For Turtle Power for James Edwards, posts with outbound links performed the best.

After you’re finished with post types, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the posts themselves. The list below shows which posts performed best.

While it isn’t the post with the most reach, I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to highlight the GoFundMe page that was created by friends of the Edwards family. The intention of the Facebook page and the corresponding campaign was to bring about positive thoughts to combat a terrible circumstance, but the monetary donations proved invaluable. The fund remains active today.

Finally, Facebook analyzes the demographics of a page. The first graphic covers gender and age.

On average, women seem to prefer “Touch” campaigns much more than men, as illustrated by the percentage of fans.

After the Today.com article published, the page began to see visits from all around the world. For a family story taking place in a relatively small rural city in south Florida, the reach of a story can be surprising. This is, of course, the power of the Internet at work.

Similar to the likes metric, gender and age are also broken down on a per-post basis. Women are the clear majority with regard to post reach and engagement, with 76% and 86%, respectively.

James was released from the hospital in early August. The family asks for your continued positive thoughts and prayers.

Like most genuine online communities built on Touch, the movement continues to expand and touch the lives of locals offline as well. One example of this is the aforementioned #PayItForward campaign that was initiated on the Facebook page by one of James’s family members. 

payitforward.jpg

The idea spawned a local movement of paying for items for strangers in local shops and sending love throughout the community in the form of Turtle Power. Also, there have been countless #PayItForward social media posts tagged with the #TurtlePowerForJames hashtag from across the country.

What’s more, teachers in the local area shared James’s story with their students and dressed like the Ninja Turtles in his honor.

turtles.jpg

We’re continuing to see local business owners dedicating a percentage of their proceeds as a fundraiser for James. The best part about taking the movement offline is it allows the community members to get together, while sporting their favorite Ninja Turtles gear, to have actual meaningful in-person relationships. They share their stories, their prayers for the Edwards family and aid in the unimaginable struggle that this traumatic event has caused a loving family.

Even I joined in on the Ninja Turtle fun.

turtle2.jpg

Yes, I’m actually wearing a ninja turtle onesie. But then again, I’d do anything for James and the Edwards family.

That’s the power of Touch marketing and honest and genuine storytelling. Simply tug on some heartstrings and watch as the best side of human beings step out to the forefront.

Throughout all of the bad the Edwards family has experienced over the last month, the good generated within the local community has made everything more bearable for those involved. For that, I am proud of my community and honored to forever possess #TurtlePowerForJames. Keep fighting, little Ninja! 🙂

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