Podcasts, Video and Promotions Can All Help Build Your Communities

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We've talked a lot here about the importance of building communities within your audience. I was just reading a press release from the National Fastpitch (Softball) Coaches Association announcing the fourth straight year they're doing their Power of One membership drive. The campaign has resulted in more than 450 new members.

For every new member that a member recruits, he or she gets entered into a drawing to win big prizes—like a free trip to the convention, a lifetime membership or equipment packages.

"It is always great to hear about the growth of the NFCA and our favorite game," said 2018 winner Kate Poppe, Haverford College. "It is even better to be a part of it. I love this community because everyone is so passionate about the growth of softball and it is clear the love of the game is ever-present amongst our members."

When a member or subscriber refers to "this community," good things usually happen. Here are three examples of community-building initiatives:

Events. SIPA member Behrs Verlag started a new event titled QM! What's Important in Practice 2017?, and CEO Arno Langbehn gave much of the credit for its success to the community they created.

The conference came out of the natural progression of a niche they had worked hard to develop. "For years we have been offering a product family informing our customers regularly about the latest topics on food hygiene and food safety." That included monthly reports, a quarterly newsletter called Food & Hygiene Practice, news flashes and a magazine titled QM.

Behr's showed great respect for this niche segment—calling them "entrepreneurs for food safety"—with knowledge built up from years of time and effort in that topic. They knew the pain points to target, used acronyms that audience would only understand, and tailored the sessions to show their familiarity.

They enticed 50 people to pay close to $2,000 to attend, with a boost from a behind-the-scenes look at the food inspection services at Frankfurt Airport.

Video. The Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) ran a contest a couple years ago asking members to submit short videos—less than two minutes—that showed the benefits of being a Certified Management Accountant. The contest theme was "You've Got to Earn It."

They received 33 submissions. The videos were narrowed down to a top four, and then posted on Facebook for public voting. During voting, IMA's Facebook page reached 500,000 more people than in the previous month and gained 600 new U.S. followers as contestants shared their videos and IMA's page with their communities.

"We wanted to adapt to the way millennials consume media," said IMA vice president of integrated marketing Ellen Gurevich. "So we leveraged the power of word-of-mouth marketing and third-party credibility in getting these individuals who made these videos and their take on what the CMA means to them to talk to their peers about the program."

Podcasts. In April, Harvard Business Review announced the launch of HBR Presents, a network of business podcasts curated by HBR editors for their many communities. The network builds on HBR's successful original podcasts – HBR IdeaCast, Dear HBR:, and Women at Work – which together have more than 2 million monthly downloads.

"We know there's an appetite for even more high-quality audio programming from HBR," said HBR editor in chief Adi Ignatius. "HBR Presents is a unique, hyper-focused network of business podcasts that will allow us to reach our audience in different ways – and connect partners and sponsors with HBR's highly engaged listeners."

One of the new podcasts, Cold Call, gives a new take on repurposing. "Cold Call distills Harvard Business School's legendary case studies into podcast form. Hosted by Brian Kenny, the twice-monthly podcast features Harvard Business School faculty discussing cases they've written and the lessons they impart."


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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…