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You know marketing inside and out. You’ve seen trends come and go. At this point, you know your routine and you have a pretty good handle on what works…right?

When you got started, especially if you have some experience under your belt, chances are high that you relied on print and any other number of strategies combining traditional advertising with high-level marketing to reach a target audience. From there, you watched how the rise of the Internet led to website development strategies, SEO, email marketing, targeting, retargeting and everything in between. You’re probably familiar with each of these tactics and can spout off advantages and disadvantages at the drop of a dime.

Maybe your strategy has stayed stagnant for some time. You’ve found what “works” for your content and you’re pleased with the results you’ve been seeing. You’re happy that, while specific details might be changing, your overall tactics require little “new” effort.

If this all sounds familiar to you, and it meshes with where your strategy currently stands, now might be a good time for a wake-up call. Luckily for you, we’re here to provide exactly that.

There’s nothing wrong with the strategies listed above. Using the right keywords and enhancing your website to reach your target audience is important. Taking advantage of everything that “traditional” social media brings to the table is useful in many situations.

But…could you be doing more?

The simple answer here is that you can. There is a method that could be better than, or at least supplemental, to all of those listed above. You can be doing more, starting today, to enhance your digital marketing strategy, to see real results, and to create a loyal base of brand ambassadors and loyal customers that cannot be shaken.

It all starts with a digital community.

“Wait,” you might be thinking, “Isn’t that why I’m on social media? I’m already doing that” Sure. You might be trying to build a community. You might receive feedback, you might interact with those that keep your brand or association moving in the right direction. But, there’s more to a true, interactive digital community than what traditional social media networks would like you to think.

Below are 6 reasons that an interactive digital community designed with your specific needs in mind is a better option than any combination of digital marketing or social media strategies that you might be relying on today.

  1. People Want to Belong and  Digital Communities Make that Happen

Big time social networks exist because people want to feel connected. They want to feel as though their voices are heard and they want the opportunity to feel a sense of belonging. What if that sense of belonging was centered around, and in part provided by, your brand or association? A branded digital community sends the message that your association members, customers or even your employees, belong, that they have a place where what they bring to the table really counts.

  1. Traditional Marketing Costs Money, Sometimes A Lot of Money

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Sure, using standard keyword marketing and search engine marketing can be effective…if you have the right budget. But, unless you’re willing to shell out hundreds of dollars a day for specific keywords, there will always be someone bigger than you who can top what you’re trying to accomplish.

In fact, the average website visitor visits 10.4 websites prior to making any final decisions. This means that while you may be great at attracting visitors, you conversions could probably use a boost. Communities allow you to provide this boost in an “opt-in” sort of way.

Fact: digital communities are affordable. They bring people in from day one and allow them to revisit, and allow you to reconnect, without paying for each interaction. This is a cost effective, efficient option that can be hard to beat.

  1. Your Target Audience is Smarter than You Think

The Internet is no longer a novelty. In fact, it’s no longer a privilege of any kind. If someone wants information, it’s literally in their pockets and at their fingertips in a way that it’s never been before. I’m willing to bet that the average 5 year old knows how to use “Siri” to their advantage to find exactly what they’re looking for.

This means that your audience is smarter than ever as it relates to marketing tactics. They understand that when they visit a website to search for a specific grill, then that grill is displayed on a sponsored social post, that it’s not a coincidence. They can see straight through standard digital advertising tactics…so while you may be able to afford a high-end search engine marketing campaign, your audience might be looking for something more organic.

Communities are organic. They allow for thought sharing and open discussions that members can choose to be a part of. They’re not a gimmick, they’re not a costly campaign; they’re a natural way to meet the need to belong and to provide high-level discussions and connections.

  1. Traditional Social Media Marketing is Harder than Ever

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Large social networks are changing on a regular basis. Facebook now displays images from individuals and sponsored ads over page posts, making it hard for page managers to make an impact. LinkedIn no longer allows brands to search group members to connect on an individual basis. Twitter is inundated with posts every second, meaning if you don’t catch a target audience member at the right time, your information will be buried; Instagram is slowly creeping toward this same outcome.

Targeted communities don’t come with these limitations. They are designed with brands and associations in mind. They’re designed to allow for one-on-one interactions. Put simply, they’re the answer to the complications that traditional networks are creating on a daily basis.

  1. Digital Communities Transfer Control…Or At Least Appear To Do So

This is a scary thought. As marketers, we like to have control. We like to think that if we do A, B and C, then X, Y and Z will be the outcome. But, does life ever work that way? I’m willing to bet that if you really think about it, your honest answer will be “no.”

Life is filled with variables, but one thing that remains constant is that individuals want to feel like they’re in control of their decisions. Threaten to remove that freedom and you’re likely to face some backlash.

Communities allow members to feel like they’re in control. They can visit when they want. They can participate in the discussions that they want. They make their own decisions.

But, when the right platform is in use, there’s a secret. As a community manager/marketer…you still have some control. You can still send out messages to specific members or to all members. You can still incorporate features that lead to the outcome you have in mind. You can still create and share content that can be shared elsewhere that leads those that read it back to your site. You’re not throwing information out blindly hoping for a win every now and then.

Targeted digital communities allow your desired audience members to feel like they’re in control, while allowing you to play chess master to a certain extent. This is a win-win situation.

  1. Thanks to Technology, Innovation and Customization are More Possible than Ever

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Alright, let’s look at a common scenario. Say you decide to start an online community on a traditional social network. Great! You love that you can share the content you want to share and to connect with specific individuals. But, there’s one thing you wish you could change. Maybe you’d like to add a project management component to better connect with your internal audience. Perhaps you’d like a gaming feature to encourage participation.

So, you take your desire to that large social network. Think you’d receive a response? Think that change would actually happen? Probably not. Social networks are designed to appeal to the masses…this means that your individual concerns are of little consequence to those behind mass networks.

When you create a targeted digital community – especially on an open source platform like Social HubSite – your needs matter. Your community can be assessed according to what your members need and are looking for. If you have a request, there’s probably a way to make it happen. What you need and want actually matters.

If you’re ready to revolutionize the way you interact with and even reach your target audience in the first place, whether that audience is a group of consumers, your association members or another integral group that keeps your organization moving in the right direction, we’re ready to stand behind you. Check out what Phase 2 Solutions brings to the table, and contact us today. Forget dated, costly strategies that leave you guessing starting today. The future of marketing is actually in your hands…make the right call!

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