A couple of times now, my Google Talk status has said ‘link love?’. All my contacts have at least once pinged me to know whom am I linking up with ;) With equal jest I punch vague answers that blur all possibilities of any further topical discussion. But I smile to myself. For I have just seen the first signs of – what a lot of us are very skeptical about- a Community!
I could build a case for virtual communities and cite several examples even from our very own Orkut. But I’d rather share a live instance that may help validate.
We were recently approached by our friends who run Radio Schizoid, an India based Internet music station that plays trance, for a possible assignment.
Just as an experiment one morning, we linked Schizoid to our respective Google talk status. Consequently, even my Orkut profile was happily advocating- ‘Trance @ Radio Schizoid’. Add to that my love for psychedelic art- my profile could have well been of someone from Goa?. In a couple of days I get this curiously casual email from Anirudh (no-one I knew then) who called himself a ‘trance addict’. At first I junked the email as yet another random friend request, but I did make a note of the trance bit and checked his profile when next on Orkut.
He followed it up with a casual scrap and then several others. I discovered that a banker by profession, most weekends he dons the avatar of DJ Psy Spy, to play psychedelic trance with his present tutor and friend, at a popular Delhi night-club. By then, we had connected well and he reviewed Radio Schizoid, sharing with me some meaningful insights that can only transpire from an insider to the genre of music that Trance is.
At one go I had managed transparent feedback on the category and (maybe even seeded a potential community). If it worked for me, it could for any of us. But is there a trick to it? The answer could be both yes and no.
‘No’, because most of us aren’t outsiders to the Web 2.0 medium. So if we stick to the golden rule of not doling out brochure speak or heavy duty gyan and instead ‘listening’ to our audience, we stand a fair chance of being heard even in this age of information overdose.
And ‘Yes’ because in the current dynamics of cluttered space, we will get traction only and only our message ‘entertains’ or adds value to the user. For instance, all of us have moments at work when we want to just look at something fun that can be a stress buster. It is in this space that a brand or product can be successfully seeded. Being marketers we hero- worship our product. But as a consumer, we respond best to campaigns that break the monotony and entertain. Why else will people ping you on something as matter-of-fact as an IM status? That’s why, where our brochures fail, the ‘art of creative teasing’ will get us through- the most apparent example being viral productions.
By now if you are set to get your hands dirty, then my suggestion is that even before you get into the nitty-gritty’s of creating a forum, inviting members and creating events, test water and spend some time on what will interest your target audience. And you can get your answers if you worked with a little creativity with simple things like your Google Talk status or Twitter for instance. When Google introduced Google Talk they probably never thought that it will be used as much more than just an IM and VoIP application. And then, Google merged Google Talk with Orkut, opening the Pandora’s Box!
So, next time while copy pasting that link as your IM status, do remember, like I do, to add those two tempting opening words that have the potential to become the ‘catchment area’ for your target audience. Better still, be creative, use a smart one- liner and have fun while every body else keeps guessing what you are upto!
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