By Puno Dostres
PUNO IS A WOMAN ABOUT TOWN. A DESIGNER, A FOUNDER, A CREATOR AND AN INFLUENCER. ONE OF HER NEWEST PROJECTS, MAP, LAUNCHED JUST A LITTLE UNDER A YEAR AGO AND QUICKLY BECAME A PRIME EXAMPLE OF INFLUENCER-BASED COMMUNITY BUILDING.
“IF YOU DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE A COMMUNITY MANAGER, SPEND THE TIME TO FIGURE OUT HOW.”
Map's community has been an invaluable marketing, branding, acquisition, customer service, feedback and retention tool. That's a lot, huh? A year ago, we weren't even thinking about community building. Now, our community is the heart of our product. If you can create a platform where people can interact, share their stories authentically, then do yourself and your business a favor... build a community.
We leveraged bigger communities through Instagram and created our niche within it. Since Instagram is a visual content-based platform, we needed to understand what would resonate with the audience we wanted to reach. In order to do that, we curated a mood board of the lifestyle we wanted to celebrate. For inspiration, I ignored our competitors and looked for products that our audience would buy. Products with brands that emboldened our lifestyle.
Then we would hunt for influencers that evoked our #finditliveit lifestyle. Instagram is great because you can view a person's profile and get a summary of their lifestyle in a few photos. We would often find people with the same quality of photos as a person with 30K followers, but with 500 or less followers. We ended up featuring whichever photo and story that would best fit the flow of our profile.
WHAT IS MAP?
A visual mapping community celebrating people and their journeys.
I think that naturally made our community more approachable. It was a nice balance of popular influencers and up and coming influencers. Even though we've only been around for 9 months, some of our early users were featured on Instagram and blew up from 500 to 50K followers! Sometimes, I feel like a casting director, looking at someone's profile saying, "Oh man, you're going to be so hot. So hot."
"YOUR FIRST USERS SHOULD FEEL THAT SIGNING UP WITH YOU WAS ONE OF THE BEST CHOICES THEY EVER MADE. AND YOU, IN TURN, SHOULD BE RACKING YOUR BRAINS TO THINK OF NEW WAYS TO DELIGHT THEM. -PAUL GRAHAM"
In the beginning, we knew our growth would be small, the value and effort would not be scalable, but it would most definitely lead to a strong, engaged community. I continuously look for tools to automate and scale our efforts, but I haven't found anything yet - they are often a bit off. Not exactly our brand. Hiring community managers with taste, charm, and persistence that will manually recruit potential followers is invaluable for developing a healthy community, though, seemingly more time consuming. Also, they can take advantage of the onboarding process by adding a little charm - a little human, if you will.
If you don't know how to be a community manager, spend the time to figure out how. If you don't have the time, then hire someone. If you don't know how to hire community managers, then hire someone who does. This problem isn't rocket science, but you have to be honest with what you're capable of doing. Most importantly, be sure to learn along the way and be hands-on so you can help train and scale when the time comes. //