There’s no denying marketing has evolved from one way ‘pushed’ conversations to engaged dialogue and relationships with audiences.
Strategies around building brand advocates, engaging online communities and offering user-generated experiences all aim to achieve a similar goal, participation.
Participation is the new marketing kid on the block, even though the idea is not new. It’s a way to allow people to become involved with a brand, feel included in its story, feel valued as a customer or even be part of a cultural trend.
Plus, with the driving need for instant gratification and direct response, people expect to be able to interact with brands online, when they want and how they want. This trend is pushing marketing to become a 24 hour machine, rather than a switch on, switch off tool.
Participation sounds very good in theory, however executing it isn’t necessarily straightforward. There are five areas you will need to consider to effectively implement a
participation marketing strategy.
1. Engaging content
If the content you’re sharing isn’t engaging or interesting, no one’s going to spend any time on it. One of people’s most precious currencies is time and the key to effective participation marketing is making sure what you’re offering is worth a user’s time. If someone is going to spend their time on your content, it had better be worth it, or you risk losing them forever.
2. Offer something of value
You need to answer the “What’s in it for me?” question in a way that’s both fun and true to your brand strategy. Incentives can work well too, and they do not necessarily need to involve money; fame and recognition work just as well. If people don’t find value in a brand relationship they quickly move on.
3. Provide a means for people to get involved
Encouraging participation is achieved by creating pathways and opportunities for users to create their own contact and marketing strategies, and even their own products and services.
Participation marketing can be as simplistic as having users like or vote on a post or be as complex as asking users to help create a new product, like this example for Vitamin Water.
4. Have a long term focus
Participation marketing is a long term commitment. It works best as an ongoing strategy rather than a switch on, switch off campaign.
5. Keep testing
It’s important to keep monitoring results and refining your approach. Every interaction offers you the opportunity to learn more about your audience, what works and what doesn’t, how well certain outcomes were achieved and what could’ve been improved.
Good participation marketing requires you to be focused on creating time-sensitive, engaging campaigns that allow users to embrace their addiction to interaction. They’re all participation addicts (whether they know it or not) and it’s your job to be an enabler.