In 2020, Kati Chatrakorn at Vogue wrote, “Social media is like an overcrowded bar where there’s nowhere to sit.” I agree with Kati. But, it’s also important to note that social media has changed since 2020. With more division, greater emphasis on privacy, and a general increase of negative sentiment, social media is now like an overcrowded dingy bar – one that smells musty and smoky where you’re constantly worried about bumping into the wrong person at the wrong time. Oh – and the same drinks are overpriced.
This unfortunate evolution of social media means that marketers, brands, and consumers all suffer. It’s difficult to delight a new customer when you’re constantly trying to speak above the noise, find the right audience, and spark a meaningful conversation. Your target customer might be directly beside you; but you may never know.
Re-winding a bit, in the 2010’s the concept of “omni-channel” marketing permeated the eCommerce world. Omni-channel is a strategy that helps brands and marketers find their customer where they are. Most big brands adopted a form of an omni-channel strategy; they launched interactive websites, developed profiles on Facebook and Instagram, advertised on those legacy platforms, and experimented with emerging platforms.
More recently, “micro-communities” became a buzz with the conceptual birth of Web3. Micro-communities help brands and marketers develop more meaningful connections and relationships with customers. Micro-communities are the “owned-channels” that make omni-channels more potent and more connected. Meanwhile, owned-channels reduce dependency on legacy social media, develop first-party data, create faster feedback loops, and enable stronger management of the customer experience.
Brands need to find ways to manage closer relationships to customers. Why? Because that’s what the customer wants; they want to feel heard and understood; they want to feel a brand’s empathy. They want for the brand to feel they are beside them on the same journey. Mostly, they want to trust the brand.
Meanwhile, brands can expedite product development loops with consumers. Because trust is fostered, brands can ask for candid, constant feedback. That feedback can be processed and quickly made actionable – further honing in on product/market-success with their target audience.
But, there’s a caveat. The communities need to ensure they are, in fact, like-minded, interest-oriented, and focused on similar goals.
At Plankk, we launch dozens of apps with world class creators, athletes, and influencers. Each app represents the community established by our partner. The members of each community follow a similar story of self-refinement and transformation.
- In some cases, the community is focused on aging gracefully – like in the app “Train with Joan,” hosted by baby boomer fitness sensation Joan McDonald.
- Members in celebrity trainer Erin Oprea’s app, “Pretty Muscles,” are searching for ways to develop their confidence and fit fitness into their busy lives.
- Oriana Torres guides her members through a strong, safe, and healthy pregnancy in her app and community “Body by Oriana.”
- On the other end of the spectrum, members of “Dojo” learn power, endurance, and discipline as Hollywood hotshot, Michal Jai White, guides fighters through multifaceted martial arts programs.
Each app represents its own community – a place where members interact with content that speaks to their life, interests, and goals.These members have self-selected their community. Trust in the community is bolstered each time members support each other on their transformational progress – or comments about a new product they tried and loved. Members know what they want. At Plankk, it’s our job – and that of our partner – to provide a product that captivates their interest so they can dive deeper into the community.
Once in these smaller niche communities, members welcome brand messaging and endemic product placement. Why? Because the nature of the community creates an environment of trust and authenticity. For instance, Erin Oprea is a firm believer in taking a beet juice supplement to give herself sustainable energy without jitters or crashing. Members of her community trust Erin and they trust each other. Again, that’s why they self-selected to engage and re-engage in the community. Product placement (i.e. beet juice) in the app doesn’t feel like an advertisement. It feels like an ecommerce shortcut.
Nutrition, equipment, and apparel products are well-served in Plankk’s apps. Members already are looking for advice on products that will help them on their journey. Trust has been established. As a result, commerce isn’t perceived as a financial transaction; commerce becomes the natural path of further brand engagement.
At Plankk, we realize that the legacy social media platforms are failing consumers and brands, alike. Social media’s noise, confusion, and distrust are perfect reasons for us to develop better relationships with brands who want to cultivate micro-communities with the niche audiences we’ve helped develop through each app. After all, these niche audiences experience the problems that brands were built to solve. Micro-communities, led by trustworthy creators, help a brand’s mission come full circle. Plankk is focused on getting the circle in motion.
The “So What?”:
The internet is changing. The concept of Web3 focuses on decentralization. Decentralization means companies, brands, and marketers will need to adapt to new ways that customers and data interact. Marketers, especially, must build digital strategies that foster trust and connection with consumers so that behavioral data leads to a more trustworthy, more personalized, and more authentic customer experience.
Emboldening micro-communities will give marketers leverage as the next phase of the internet evolves. Late-movers will suffer a similar fate of the brick-and-mortar retailers that deferred or – worse – outsourced eCommerce strategies. Early-movers will captivate audiences and be well-prepared for the evolution of the web while dominating a strong digital strategy and – more importantly – customer journey.