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How Brands Like Google, Twitch, and Sephora Built Brand Communities — and How You Can, Too

How Brands Like Google, Twitch, and Sephora Built Brand Communities — and How You Can, Too

Over the past few decades, companies, marketing departments, and c-suites have used the term “community” to refer to a smorgasbord of ideas, from wide-ranging organizational investments — such as neighborhood events or charity partnerships — to online forums and even simple email lists.

These ideas aim to create some sense of the collective belonging people used to feel, long before our now-record isolation and loneliness. But most (and sometimes all) of these community-building measures are superficial, or even irrelevant, to what constitutes real community.

We call the resulting so-called communities mirage communities: groups that organizations may label as communities, but that a trained eye can recognize are not.

There are, however, a growing number of organizations that take the need for community far more seriously. These organizations invest in effective community principles, and they’re rewarded with breakthrough innovation, critical feedback, brand loyalty, and employee retention.

But these rewards don’t appear magically. They require a special investment.

So, how do some of today’s most successful companies do it? Let’s explore how Google, Twitch, and Sephora implement authentic community-building strategies, and how your own company can, too.

1. Google invests in Labs.

At Google, community success comes in the form of collaborative groups, or what Google calls “Labs.”

Each Google Lab brings together approximately 100 thought leaders, in specific industries, to tackle some of today’s most pressing issues. Google Labs foster mutual respect and concern among members, which spawn conversations, collaborations, and opportunities that were never possible before. It’s part of what keeps Google at the top of every “most innovative” company list today.

For example, Google’s Food Lab focuses on the production, purchase, and presentation of food. Its members take on top food challenges, from “How do we move our culture to a plant-forward diet?” to “How do we eliminate waste in our food system?”

In turn, Google is lauded as a brand that inspires the food industry, while it refines (and reduces) its own monstrous spending on healthy employee food perks — which, at one point, cost nearly $72 million a year at the main office “Googleplex” alone.

2. Twitch succeeds with local groups.

Twitch attracts over 2 million people per month to watch and livestream digital video broadcasts. Their approach is built on a two-sided marketplace: they need to attract broadcasters, as well as audience members. Local community groups help them succeed.

Twitch has built a worldwide team to support over 40 local, city-based groups, each of which hosts real-life and virtual events that foster genuine friendships and deep relationships between local Twitch members. However, local groups (and their leaders) must demonstrate how well they can bring members together, first.

These local groups allow Twitch to transform online interactions — which can often feel transactional — into connections that have real meaning. Members return again and again to the brand, and recruit others to participate, because Twitch is a space where authentic emotional investments happen.

3. Sephora says “yes” to beauty enthusiasts.

Sephora — one of the largest beauty retailers in the world — has invested in building a makeup enthusiast community that is both accessible on mobile devices and integrated into the shopping experience.

Inside the community, members can discuss a variety of beauty products and methods, regardless of whether they’re related to Sephora products or not. Within the community, Sephora enables members to follow interesting topics and connect with fellow members, keep up with trends and chat with brands, and score access to exclusive events.

Community members can also gain access to beauty techniques and product information, engage with beauty company founders, and experience an affirming space with others who love the fun, play, and transformation of makeup.

What do these examples have in common?

Real communities are made up of relationships. Always. Relationships exist in the realm of personal experience, and although they may include transactions, they are never purely transactional. They also include some generosity — at least the kind where we help others without calculating the return on investment (ROI) for sending a card, answering a timely question, or holding a door open for a stranger coming in from the cold.

To build an effective brand community, you must reject the premise that everything an organization does or offers must generate profit or exist within a transaction. Instead, community-building efforts will help consumers see more long-term value in your brand.

People don’t commit to, feel safe in, or extend themselves for relationships that only serve a person (or brand) “getting” something as cheaply and easily as possible. We commit to relationships in which we believe that others care about our success, too.

In a real community, members help one another become who they want to be. This can include sharing information, skills, hard-won lessons, and — very often — attentive friendship. When a brand can offer this to members (e.g., customers, users, staff, colleagues, or volunteers), something much richer and more rewarding can develop.

Three Tips for Building True Community

  1. Go beyond the transaction. Make sure you go far beyond building transactional relationships. It’s not enough to offer coupons or simply invite someone to a virtual or in-person event.
  2. Define how you’re helping members. Articulate exactly how you’re enriching the lives of community members — help them, not just your corporate goals.
  3. Think small. Community happens in small experiences. Intentionally create what we call “campfire experiences,” which are intimate experiences where participants have proximity, permission, and time to connect with a small group.

This post was originally published on this site

How Brands Like Google, Twitch, and Sephora Built Brand Communities — and How You Can, Too

How Brands Like Google, Twitch, and Sephora Built Brand Communities — and How You Can, Too

Over the past few decades, companies, marketing departments, and c-suites have used the term “community” to refer to a smorgasbord of ideas, from wide-ranging organizational investments — such as neighborhood events or charity partnerships — to online forums and even simple email lists.

These ideas aim to create some sense of the collective belonging people used to feel, long before our now-record isolation and loneliness. But most (and sometimes all) of these community-building measures are superficial, or even irrelevant, to what constitutes real community.

We call the resulting so-called communities mirage communities: groups that organizations may label as communities, but that a trained eye can recognize are not.

There are, however, a growing number of organizations that take the need for community far more seriously. These organizations invest in effective community principles, and they’re rewarded with breakthrough innovation, critical feedback, brand loyalty, and employee retention.

But these rewards don’t appear magically. They require a special investment.

So, how do some of today’s most successful companies do it? Let’s explore how Google, Twitch, and Sephora implement authentic community-building strategies, and how your own company can, too.

1. Google invests in Labs.

At Google, community success comes in the form of collaborative groups, or what Google calls “Labs.”

Each Google Lab brings together approximately 100 thought leaders, in specific industries, to tackle some of today’s most pressing issues. Google Labs foster mutual respect and concern among members, which spawn conversations, collaborations, and opportunities that were never possible before. It’s part of what keeps Google at the top of every “most innovative” company list today.

For example, Google’s Food Lab focuses on the production, purchase, and presentation of food. Its members take on top food challenges, from “How do we move our culture to a plant-forward diet?” to “How do we eliminate waste in our food system?”

In turn, Google is lauded as a brand that inspires the food industry, while it refines (and reduces) its own monstrous spending on healthy employee food perks — which, at one point, cost nearly $72 million a year at the main office “Googleplex” alone.

2. Twitch succeeds with local groups.

Twitch attracts over 2 million people per month to watch and livestream digital video broadcasts. Their approach is built on a two-sided marketplace: they need to attract broadcasters, as well as audience members. Local community groups help them succeed.

Twitch has built a worldwide team to support over 40 local, city-based groups, each of which hosts real-life and virtual events that foster genuine friendships and deep relationships between local Twitch members. However, local groups (and their leaders) must demonstrate how well they can bring members together, first.

These local groups allow Twitch to transform online interactions — which can often feel transactional — into connections that have real meaning. Members return again and again to the brand, and recruit others to participate, because Twitch is a space where authentic emotional investments happen.

3. Sephora says “yes” to beauty enthusiasts.

Sephora — one of the largest beauty retailers in the world — has invested in building a makeup enthusiast community that is both accessible on mobile devices and integrated into the shopping experience.

Inside the community, members can discuss a variety of beauty products and methods, regardless of whether they’re related to Sephora products or not. Within the community, Sephora enables members to follow interesting topics and connect with fellow members, keep up with trends and chat with brands, and score access to exclusive events.

Community members can also gain access to beauty techniques and product information, engage with beauty company founders, and experience an affirming space with others who love the fun, play, and transformation of makeup.

What do these examples have in common?

Real communities are made up of relationships. Always. Relationships exist in the realm of personal experience, and although they may include transactions, they are never purely transactional. They also include some generosity — at least the kind where we help others without calculating the return on investment (ROI) for sending a card, answering a timely question, or holding a door open for a stranger coming in from the cold.

To build an effective brand community, you must reject the premise that everything an organization does or offers must generate profit or exist within a transaction. Instead, community-building efforts will help consumers see more long-term value in your brand.

People don’t commit to, feel safe in, or extend themselves for relationships that only serve a person (or brand) “getting” something as cheaply and easily as possible. We commit to relationships in which we believe that others care about our success, too.

In a real community, members help one another become who they want to be. This can include sharing information, skills, hard-won lessons, and — very often — attentive friendship. When a brand can offer this to members (e.g., customers, users, staff, colleagues, or volunteers), something much richer and more rewarding can develop.

Three Tips for Building True Community

  1. Go beyond the transaction. Make sure you go far beyond building transactional relationships. It’s not enough to offer coupons or simply invite someone to a virtual or in-person event.
  2. Define how you’re helping members. Articulate exactly how you’re enriching the lives of community members — help them, not just your corporate goals.
  3. Think small. Community happens in small experiences. Intentionally create what we call “campfire experiences,” which are intimate experiences where participants have proximity, permission, and time to connect with a small group.

This post was originally published on this site

Everything You Need to Know About Affiliate Marketing

Everything You Need to Know About Affiliate Marketing

If you’ve ever came across Tim Ferris’s iconic book on how to just work four hours per week, you’ve probably dreamed of sipping a Mojito on a beach while your money worked for you in the background. One of the main ideas he constantly talks about is the concept of passive income.

After all, having an income chart like this is the main goal of many online entrepreneurs:

passive income goal sample chart

For many entrepreneurs looking to build an online business or marketers looking to monetize their web traffic, affiliate marketing is often how they got started with generating income.

Affiliate marketing is one of the world’s most popular methods of generating passive income online, and it continues to grow. In fact, affiliate marketing spend is reported to increase to $8.2 billion by 2022 — up from $5.4 billion in 2017.

If you’re looking for a complete guide to affiliate marketing, read more to find out how you can promote products as an affiliate to create an additional source of income.

There are typically four parties involved in affiliate marketing:

  • Affiliates: The promoters of the product
  • Product creators: The creators of the product
  • Networks: The networks managing the affiliates
  • Consumers: The end users of the product

affiliate marketing model

Image Source

You don’t always need a network to become an affiliate, but the other three parties (the affiliates, the product creators, and the consumers) form the core of an affiliate program.

Who are the affiliates?

An affiliate, also known as a publisher, can be an individual or a company. Typically, these are other bloggers or content creators operating in the industry of the product they are creating.

They help promote the product or service by creating content like blog posts, videos, or other media.

They can also promote their content to get transactions by putting up ads, capturing search traffic from SEO, or building an email list.

When one of their visitors creates a transaction, which could be a purchase or submitting a lead form, the affiliate gets a commission. How much commission is structured depends on the affiliate program terms.

Who are the merchants?

A merchant, also known as the product creator or advertiser, is typically the creator of the product or services. They offer revenue sharing and commissions to people or other companies (affiliates), which have a significant following on their brand.

The merchant can be a company like HubSpot, which offers a commission to every affiliate who’s able to get their visitors to make a purchase.

Or it can be an individual like Pat Flynn, who offers an affiliate program with his podcasts.

The merchants can be anyone from a solopreneur to a big company, as long as they are willing to pay their affiliates to help them gain a transaction.

Sometimes the merchant does not even have to be the product creator, as in the case of the Amazon Associates Program.

Who are the affiliate networks?

An affiliate network acts as an intermediary between the merchants and their affiliates. In some cases, a network is not necessary, but some companies choose to work with a network to add a layer of trust.

The network manages the relationship and provides third-party checks and balances. Third-party checks can be important because they bring down fraud rates.

Some popular networks include ClickBank and ShareASale.

Some merchants choose to work with an affiliate network because they lack the time or resources to track, report, and manage payments to the affiliates. They might also choose to work with multiple affiliates or publishers within the affiliate network.

Who are the consumers?

The consumers or customers are the ones who makes the transaction. They are the ones who purchase the product or submit the lead form in order for the affiliate to gain the commission.

We’ll talk more about getting paid in the next section. In the meantime, here are some common affiliate marketing models:

Pay-Per-Click (PPC): The affiliate gets paid for all clicks that were generated, regardless of whether a lead or sale happened. This is fairly rare since all the risk is on the product creator.

Pay-Per-Lead (PPL): The affiliate gets paid for every lead they generated. This could be an online form submission, trial creation, or any pre-purchase. This is a shared risk on both the merchant and the affiliate.

Pay-Per-Sale (PPS): The affiliate gets paid for every sale they generated. This is the most common model since all the risk is on the affiliate.

Now, let’s talk about how to get started with affiliate marketing.

When it comes to affiliate marketing, most people think it’s a process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s or company’s products.

While affiliate marketing can seem straightforward — just find a product you love, promote it, and earn a piece of profit with every sale you make — there are actually a few moving parts you need to a monitor.

1. Choose a platform and niche.

To be an affiliate, you need to have influence. Establishing a website or blog that specializes in a niche is the best way to establish influence. Whether you focus on finance, personal health, business, or even cats, a niched blog or website will help you gain influence and build an audience.

Affiliate marketers build audiences through blogs (on WordPress or HubSpot), via newsletters, or even on YouTube or other social media channels.

2. Build an audience.

A large, engaged audience is a highly valuable asset for any blog or website. Having people who read, view, and engage with your content can help you make affiliate income.

The best way to build an audience is to first establish who your target audience is, and you can find your target audience by researching competitors, monitoring your traffic, and conducting first-hand research by talking to subscribers and customers.

Once you establish this group, grow and cultivate your loyal online audience through targeted content and emails. Give your audience a reason to read and engage with your content, and they’ll find a reason to purchase your recommended products, too.

3. Sign up for an affiliate program.

The best way to get started with affiliate marketing is by signing up for an affiliate program like the Amazon Associates or HubSpot Affiliate Program. After signing up, you will get an affiliate link that contains a unique ID. You can then use this link in your content.

There are typically no upfront costs when it comes to joining an affiliate program, but your variable ongoing costs will depend on how you want to promote the products. If you choose to outsource content or run ads, those are costs that will come out of your pocket.

4. Choose which products to promote.

Choosing the right product to promote, working with the right company, fostering relationships, and updating content are all core essentials of excelling at affiliate marketing.

According to Pat Flynn, one of the pioneers of creating passive income through providing value to his audience, there are two important rules when it comes to affiliate marketing:

  • Only recommend products as an affiliate that you’re extremely very familiar with. If you are not confident in the product and do not feel it will help people, do not promote it.
  • Never tell anyone to directly buy a product. Always recommend products based on your experience and in the context of what you’ve done.

When it comes to choosing the right products, David Gonzalez — founder of an affiliate management agency, suggests that you should think about these three components when choosing a product to promote:

  1. Your audience: Will the product resonate with them and make them grateful you promoted it?
  2. Product quality & value: Would you advocate your best friend buying it?
  3. Profitability: Does the offer have highly competitive conversions & payouts?

After reading these recommendations, do any products come to mind?

5. Create remarkable content that promotes your affiliate products.

To see the best success with affiliate marketing, you need to create genuine and remarkable content that promotes your chosen products. Write a round-up blog post of your favorite products. Create comparison charts that discuss the merits of similar products. Interview other users and fans of the products to showcase different opinions.

Regardless of what kind of content you create, ensure it features authentic reviews and mentions of your affiliate products. Avoid discussing and promoting products you haven’t used yourself.

6. Optimize and track.

Whenever your visitor clicks on your unique affiliate link, a cookie is inserted in their browser to track actions.

When they make a transaction that is a qualified action (could be a sale or lead form submission, depending on the terms of the program), the merchant is able to record this action and attribute it to you as an affiliate so they can make a payout.

You should track your own affiliate content, too, to see what has performed well and what you can improve and promote. Understanding what content resonates best with your audience will show you what to focus on for future affiliate marketing opportunities.

7. Get paid.

There are different structures when it comes to payout, which varies based on affiliate program terms.

Commission payouts by the company are usually given on a monthly basis, but this varies depending on the affiliate program terms.

It could be a weekly payout or a monthly payment for all the leads or sales you’ve made.

You’ll want to pay attention to the payout structure when choosing an affiliate program to join, which ultimately depends on the goals you have.

You might want to understand the commission structure of the company or product creator. Are you looking for a commission per sale or commission per lead generated? Are you looking at a recurring commission or a one-off payment?

Depending on your goals, this will affect which product you choose, how you plan to promote the product as well as how much time & resources you want to invest.

For instance, if you choose to promote your content via paid ads, then that’s a cost you have to account for. You will have to compare how much you’ve spent to promote each piece of content or to generate each purchase against how much commission you’re getting for each referred sale.

Or, if you have a blog and website, then you will have to pay for hosting. In this case, this should be a flat fee spread out across all your referred sale.

Use this marketing plan generator to calculate how much you need to invest to get a basic marketing plan up and running.

How much can you make from affiliate programs?

You might be wondering, what are established affiliates earnings? (established affiliates are those working full-time.) Well, that varies. I’ve seen super affiliates earn upwards of $100,000 per month.

Making money from an affiliate program is more about the profits than the revenue you’re getting.

An affiliate making $5000/day might be worse off than another affiliate making $500/day with no cash outflow because the former might be spending most of his revenue on paid acquisition.

At the end of the day, before becoming an affiliate, you have to align your expectations to your earning potential. What kind of industry or niche you operate in, and what kind of work you do depends a lot on how much you want to make.

If you focus on ads like Adwords or Facebook to promote your affiliate products, how much money you invest is as important (if not more) as how much you make.

Are you ready to start affiliate marketing?

I commonly hear one misconception: affiliate marketing is dead.

It seems like every year in the world of online marketing, people have mentioned some variant of X is dead — SEO, email, mobile, etc.

The test of time is a pretty good test — if something has stayed around for a while, there’s a better chance of it sticking around for a while.

Everything evolves, and there are tactics that don’t work the exact same way as they did before. Affiliate marketing, of course, is no exception to that rule.

Affiliate marketing has evolved from a get-rich-quick scheme into something that requires affiliate to build real trust with their audience in order to reap the rewards of the work that’s been put in.

At the end of the day, become successful at affiliate marketing requires you to nail down the fundamentals of marketing. Authenticity is hard to fake, especially when it comes to building your own personal brand.

A brand that promotes products incessantly without any regard for bring real value to its audience will find affiliate marketing to be a short-lived source of income. Choosing the right products to promote, stemming from a true passion for what the product does, forms the basis of all your promotional activities.

While there are many tactics to scale your promotion, the golden rule of affiliate marketing stays the same: only promote products you love & treat your audience like humans.

Build your own brand, choose products that you love, create authentic content and you will be on your way to building a real source of passive income.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

This post was originally published on this site

How to Repurpose Audio and Video Content for Social Media: 5 Ways

How to Repurpose Audio and Video Content for Social Media: 5 Ways

Looking for ways to create useful social media content from your videos, live video, and podcasts? Wondering how to easily transform that content for social media? In this article, you’ll discover how to repurpose video and audio into multiple formats you can share on your social media channels. Have Your Tech in Place Creating content […]

The post How to Repurpose Audio and Video Content for Social Media: 5 Ways appeared first on Social Media Examiner | Social Media Marketing.

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Reach and Delight (The Right) Customers with Cooperative Marketing

Reach and Delight (The Right) Customers with Cooperative Marketing

Let’s say you’re buying a new phone. You probably also have to buy a screen protector and case. But, never fear — The phone store has an array of both from different companies. They are bundled with the phone for a lower price.

A phone store that bundles their products with complementary ones is an example of cooperative marketing. This offer takes advantage of products you’d already need to invest in when buying a phone, and uses that to entice you into purchasing.

That way, instead of spending time and money to make a campaign about the phones a screen protector is great for, the cooperative partnership drives leads and sales in a more organic way.

Whether the partnership is with direct competitors or complementary ones, all can enjoy the exposure and business a cooperative marketing campaigns offer.

Now that you have a pretty good idea of how cooperative marketing works, let’s look at some examples from companies that have excelled with their campaigns. This strategy leaves plenty of room for experimentation — some can even leverage it as part of their business model. 

Let’s dive in, below. 

Cooperative Marketing Examples

Cooperative marketing can show up in many different business types. You’ve most likely seen cooperative marketing in action around you. Let’s take a look at examples from other companies for tactics you can use in your own campaign planning.

1. Cafe Integral + Freehand Hotel

Freehand Hotel is an independent hotel chain with locations in New York City and Chicago. It promotes business travel in swanky, upscale surroundings. Freehand’s locations have a coffee shop built in from local chain Cafe Integral.

The Freehand website has a page about the coffee shop showing customers the benefits of having a roastery in the lobby of their space:

Freehand Hotel's website featuring Cafe Integral.

Image Source

Travelers who need a morning pick-me-up, can enjoy a quick drink from their hotel. They wouldn’t have to hop in the rental car for an espresso or walk to the nearest latte. And, if guests have vouchers for a free meal or drink, they’re getting coffee included in their room fee.

If Freehand Hotel guests love the drinks from Cafe Integral, they can visit the standalone in Lower Manhattan, New York, earning the location more loyal customers.

2. Snarls + The Sonder Bombs Split

A split is a common music industry term to describe two acts coming together on the same release. Audiences can enjoy original and cover versions of each artist’s music. They’re a great way to discover new music and give musicians new ways to promote their work.

This split is from label-mates The Sonder Bombs and Snarls, and it offers two original songs from each band and two covers of the other’s most popular tunes:

The product page for the Snarls and Sonder Bombs split.

Image Source

For one price, audiences get two bands and a chance to hear them play new, exclusive versions of old favorites. They can also hear professional covers from another band that might become their new favorite.

3. Vegancuts Snack Box

Subscription boxes are another example of cooperative marketing in action. Instead of buying individual products at once, consumers are able to pay one price for a bundle. This allows for the marketing messaging to focus on the value of product discovery.

Example of a snackbox from Vegancuts.

Image Source

The Vegancuts Snack Box, for example, lets you try snacks from multiple different brands. Usually, there’s a variety, like cookies, chips, and candy. While not necessarily a marketing campaign, subscription box companies like this one can capitalize using their business model as a cooperative marketing tactic.

4. Streaming Service Bundle

Disney+, a popular streaming service, offers a bundle for customers. For a few dollars more than the standalone subscription price, customers can have access to Hulu and ESPN. That way, customers can have movies, sports, and shows for one price.

Disney+ bundled services offer.

Image Source

Disney’s marketers bundling the services invites fans from diverse ages and interests to sign up for the service. Disney is family-friendly, Hulu has original shows and movies, and ESPN is all about sports. Each company can enjoy new subscribers and cross-promotional content from Disney as a result.

5. Sony + Naughty Dog Games

It’s not uncommon for new video game consoles to come with a copy of a popular game so players can learn the controls. For Sony’s PlayStation 4 release, the pack-in game was Naughty Dog’s Uncharted 4. This was a great cooperative marketing opportunity between a video game console and a game development company.

The PS4 bundle with Uncharted 4.

Image Source

Uncharted 4 coming with every new PS4 being sold meant that Naughty Dog’s game was being exposed to millions of players. That’s an incredible reach, one that the game company would probably struggle to do on their own.

Fans got to experience a new game to play with their new console, Sony got to sweeten the console offering, and Naughty Dog earned more leads, making this partnership a home run.

6. HubSpot Webinar

As part of Adapt 2020, an educational webinar series, “Advertising in a Time of Crisis” is a conversation between one of HubSpot’s general project managers, Google Canada‘s head of marketing, a Facebook IQ lead marketer, and the Director of Paid Media at Wunderman Thompson.

The stream for Adapt 2020's advertising discussion.These minds came together to discuss how companies should be advertising, how to shift the messaging of targeted ad campaigns, and how to measure the success of those campaigns. This webinar is completely free, and gives B2B audiences excellent insights about timely subjects from industry thought leaders.

This offering gives all companies involved a more broad reach. A collaboration, like this webinar, is a great idea when thinking about ways to cooperatively market on a budget.

Are you thinking of adding cooperative marketing products or strategies to your next rollout? When thinking of the right route to take, don’t forget to factor in your business goals and audience.

From there, you can make a decision based on the benefit of all parties — partnerships included. If you’re part of a small business that doesn’t have many resources to spare, a cooperative strategy could be an incredible way to expand your network and share resources to generate more business.

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