There's no doubt the best endorsements come from happy and loyal customers. So what if there was a way to build a community around your web site? A community that helped keep your content fresh, your ideas flowing and the links 'a coming. Turns out, there is. Of course to build a community, you need to have some personality. In this session, Sage Lewis of SageRock Marketing, will reveal how to leverage your personality and build a happy and loyal community around your web site.
Sage is going to show us some tools he uses to build community. The first in this list is delicious - a social bookmarking site. He shows how you can add links, add descriptions and even add tags so links are easily found. All the tools Sage will discuss today can be found on his delicious account. By tagging links in delicious, other people can find your "stuff" as they search for it. For example, Sage has tagged al the links to tools he will talk about in this session with the word "unleashed" thus making his bookmarked links easy to find when searching that keyword.
The next tool Sage shows us is Ning. Ning allows you to create a social network for anything you desire. This allows you to have a unique URL at Ning. For example, Within these communities, you can have a forum, photos, video, etc. There is even a paid version of Ning that allows you to have your own URL apart form the where you can take advantage of all the Ning functions and features.
Sage points out that every product and service can be made interesting, even WD-40. So don't let the fact that you think your product or service is boring keep you from getting involved in the social media and networking world.
Attendee asks if you can link back to your main site within a Ning community to which Sage answers, "absolutely!" He goes on to point out that you can use a Ning community to interface users with your main web site.
Sage next talks about LinkedIn. He points out that it is strictly for business. One feature he points out is their Answers function. This allows people to ask and answer questions. This provides exposure if you are answering questions or easy access to others who might be able to answer question you pose. He also talks about Groups which allow you to create a group or groups surrounding any business related subject matter. When you join a group or create on, you then become connected with everyone else in that group which allows for easy networking. While LinkedIn is not as popular as MySpace or Facebook, it is very targeted.
Next up in Sage's list of social communities is Flickr - a photo sharing site. He points out that you can build groups around the photos you upload to Flickr. For business, if you upload pictures on a particular subject, such as Disney theme parks, you can then draw people to your Flickr account and ultimately to your site or sites.
YouTube is next on Sage's list. YouTube allows you to create channels. He shows us the example of Johnson and Johnson in which they encourage users to submit videos of their babies for a contest. Recently Disney did such a thing where they asked users to upload their favorite moment at a Disney park. They then allowed people to vote for a winner. So channels are a great way to build community. BlendTec's "Will It Blend" video series is one of the best examples of using video as a viral marketing technique.
Sage ends his session by opening up for some questions. One attendee states that he has been having a difficult time understanding the value of Ning. Sage points out that when you build a community, your members will revisit and stick with you. It therefore allows you to increase customer retention. He also points out the brand awareness factor to it.
Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Columbus, Ohio. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.
September 22, 2008

David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.


Good point about any product can be interesting. I think that especially if the owner who has the vision for the company can promote it. It will do the best.

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