Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Warren Carlyle @modelwarren. Warren Carlyle is a Community Building Strategist helping businesses build highly engaged communities online. He is founder/CEO of OctoNation®- The Largest Octopus Fan Club 501(c)3 with over 350k members. Warren believes vanity metrics are a thing of the past and that businesses and brands need to rethink their strategies to build deeper connections with their audience if they’re looking to stay relevant and have engaged followers in this busy marketplace. For more information: www.warrencarlyle.com
SmallBizLady: How did you get started?
Warren Carlyle: After losing my mom to breast cancer in 2011, I found myself in a Barnes and Noble trying to figure out what was next for me. I got the idea to go through fashion magazines and look up fashion photographers on Instagram. I was shocked that many of them didn’t have huge followings and were surprisingly accessible. I ended up landing an internship and moving to New York to help with social media–little did I know I’d turn into his studio manager and go on to manage relationships with JCrew, Uniqlo, GQ, and many more brands.
SmallBizLady: What was your big takeaway from working with these brands?
Warren Carlyle: Brands continuously have seasonal marketing campaigns and strategically collaborate with those who, for the most part, cater to their ideal audience. When looking at developing community, you must operate in a similar way– you have to think of the programming your audience is getting as well as what will be deserving of their attention on a daily basis! You’ve got a lot of people competing for their eyeballs- so what about your account is going to empower others to continuously chat about your brand.
SmallBizLady: How did you get started as a community building strategist?
Warren Carlyle: While working in NY, I would chat with my friends back home and teach them how to use Instagram and give them permission to reach out to various businesses to collaborate with them. I didn’t really think anything of it because I was living it all day long– it just made sense. I’d ask– so what’s your next campaign and was always surprised to hear that most small businesses didn’t have a social media marketing plan at all. I saw a need and in 2015 went to work full time on my own business.
SmallBizLady: Where does the Octopus Fan Club come in?
Warren Carlyle: While I was still in NY but already ready to leave, I called a family member and told them about potentially moving back to Texas and thought I wanted to start an Octopus Fan Club. Well…they didn’t see the vision! Haha! As a kid, I was fascinated with aliens and when I discovered the Octopus– I was hooked. I could see how I was going to make it happen in my head and that night despite being told I’d end up being the only one in the fan club– I launched the profile & immediately started collaborating with authors, researchers, and artists. Now we’ve got around 350k fans!
SmallBizLady: How did you come up with the 7 C’s of building a fanatical community?
Warren Carlyle: While building community daily for OctoNation as well as my clients, I started seeing patterns with what the top communities who have massive engagement had in common. 7 C’s is also a play on words because of the Octopus Fan Club! The Seven Seas are the largest oceanic bodies of water on the planet — You need them all for a thriving community!
SmallBizLady: Why is clarity important when establishing yourself on social media?
Warren Carlyle: You want your profile to empower your community to spread the word. Without clarity, you attract a vague following and aren’t in control of how people talk about your brand. I always tell my clients to call up three people who know them really well and ask them to 1) explain what it is they think they do 2) How they would convince someone they met that they needed to be a part of their community. If they can’t answer those two questions succinctly. their community isn’t clear, and people don’t know what to expect from them.
SmallBizLady: How do core values play into building a community?
Warren Carlyle: Think about fans of Brene Brown. She is a researcher who did the most watched Ted Talk ever about the power of vulnerability. In her writing and speaking she constantly reaffirms her core values and in doing so has amassed this collective identity of followers who are forgiving, brave, vulnerable among other things. To build a cohesive community you’ve really got to think about what type of people you want drawn to it–and then when writing, speaking or making a video–ask yourself if that piece of content dives your core values.
SmallBizLady: How do you go about building a content strategy for Instagram?
Warren Carlyle: Instagram is all about inspiration, education, and entertainment through pictures and videos. It’s best to focus group with your ideal audience by asking them what they want instead of you assuming you know. No one wants to be lectured to. If you look at your social media as if you are just facilitating a conversation among many people on a given topic– you’ll be very successful. The Instagram algorithm looks to see how many comments and likes you are getting…so making the assumption people are going to be vocal on their own is short-sighted, you should constantly drive the conversations.
SmallBizLady: Connection – How can people intentionally connect with their community?
Warren Carlyle: It’s not enough nowadays to just have a follower & feel like you’ve won their attention. Instagram has an algorithm that is judging the relevancy of your content to your followers every time you post. I tell my clients that they need incentivized attention of their followers. Seriously what’s in it for them to keep you top of mind? Who are you giving them access to? What do they have a chance of winning? When is your next giveaway? To give you an example– OctoNation connects our members to leading researchers and has 2-3 giveaways a month where they could potentially win books, art, and octopus encounters at various aquariums internationally (this is a big deal to my community).
SmallBizLady: What do people need to understand about collaboration?
Warren Carlyle: Collaboration is the FASTEST way to grow a like-minded community when done strategically. Remember your core-values? You should think of the people you collaborate with as people you could throw a party with and everyone would get along. Who is currently catering to your ideal audience? In what capacity? Cool, now where do you fit in? Where are the gaps? What could you potentially create together? — You should ALWAYS be thinking of what brand names you could be leveraging & partnering with as well as what thought leaders/influencers need to know you.
SmallBizLady: Conversion – Converting followers into customers is a challenge for most people on social media– what’s the best way to make a sale on Instagram?
Warren Carlyle: Social proof that you are who you say you are, and you’ve helped the people you’ve helped makes conversion simple!
Social proof campaigns are essentially who have you worked with, where were they before they came into contact with you, and where are they now as a direct result of your product/service.
We live in an amazon world where most people want to know what other people think. Another way is demonstration. Demonstrate your product and over communicate the benefits until people feel as if they are missing out.
SmallBizLady: Consistency – Tons of people tell others to be consistent on their accounts– how do you define consistency?
Warren Carlyle: Telling people to just be consistent is awful advice- You can hold a microphone up to a bad singer and they’re going to consistently sing worse LOUDER.
Consistency means that your followers will develop expectations for what type of content you’ll be posting and when they can expect to see it. This means you need to develop a posting schedule and shy away from posting whenever/whatever. I’ll have the people I work with start with three campaigns and be clear on what their community will be able to do/be/have as a result. Does it continue to drive the communities core values? Yes? Then it’s just staying consistent with that campaign.
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