Taking it to the Streets

originally posted on Concept Hub

You have a new product, a new campaign, a new image and you need to get it in front of your audience, what can you do?
Take it to the streets!

We have all experienced a team passing out promotional items at concerts, sporting events, and parks.

But what if you are trying to promote and build an online community? What can you do?

Take it to the online streets.

One of the biggest challenges I have faced when building an online community is getting people to participate. There are a number of reasons why.

  1. There are still many more people consuming user generated content than producing it. So although you might be able to drive traffic to the site, there has to be a reason for them to contribute and they have to be the type of people who are willing to participate.
  2. The people who are willing to participate in online communities are already involved in online conversations elsewhere.

Online communities are about building relationships around common topics of interest. In order to build an online community, you have to find people who would be interested in your community, then you need to develop a relationship with them so that they would want to “hang out at your place.”

I call this effort an Online Street Team. We are working with Brand Atlanta on developing relationships with people who have a passion for sports, restaurants, attractions, concerts, and nightlife in Atlanta to build a community on the ATL Insider. We find these groups hanging out on Flickr, Myspace, Facebook, Bebo, Orkut, Twitter, Second Life, Kaneva, and so forth. We listen, we learn, and we engage in conversations.

However, even an Online Street Team needs some promotional items to distribute to the community.

Brand Atlanta has developed an interactive game, “How Do You ATL” which not only allows participants to develop their personalized image of Atlanta, but as you play the game, it gives you personalized recommendations of what to do in Atlanta – and of course there is a grand prize give away.

But we all know that the best relationships are developed in-person. We need to get out and shake hands with people, look them in the eye. Those offline relationships can then be extended online.

Last Thursday night Brand Atlanta and NetParty hosted a networking event at the Tongue & Groove in Buckhead. Our street team was there interviewing the guests in order to highlight their interests on the forum. Atlanta’s favorite citizen journalists, Amani Channel and Grayson Daughters helped guide the interviews as well as create their own video. We met many great people with great stories about how they ATL and look forward to continuing those relationships online. The next day we upload photos of the event and a YouTube video.

Yeah, I know, I have a pretty cool job!