Q&A with Alastair Sibley

Ketchum Q&A with Alastair Sibley, Community Strategist, Ketchum.

Q: How can I build a community around my brand?

A: Community discussions about food are all-pervasive online because most people feel they’re experts on the subject. We hold opinions on what we do and don’t like about it, we don’t need any qualifications in order to talk about it and on top of that, most of us are deeply involved with it at least three times a day. It can be a powerfully emotive subject seemingly without any limitations on where it can be discussed. So when brands want to engage in the conversation they need first to understand clearly what they hope to achieve. Brands engaging in food community-building need to focus on the aspects that are most relevant to them and build out from there. Social listening exercises, aided by an internal capabilities audit, allow brands to map community needs against their own ability to add value.

These initial steps are critical in order to develop a successful, ‘always-on’ community strategy. Diving straight in with just goodwill and enthusiasm is a sure way to waste both time and money. While every brand will need to adopt its own approach to building a community and keeping it engaged, here are four quick tips to keep in mind:

Be where the food is

  • On the whole we tend not to cook, shop, eat or actively engage with food in front of our desktop computers, so it’s important that your community is accessible to your members wherever they might be. Providing useful content and ways to engage with your community, whether they’re in the kitchen or out on the town will keep you relevant and help generate much-needed user generated content (UGC).

Use quality images

  • People connect the pleasure of an experience with the initial impression, or to put it another way – we eat with our eyes. If you’re hoping to engage with people on the subject of food then unappealing or low-quality images will do you no favours. The same is true for UGC, so be selective about what you promote.

Showcase good user behaviour

  • Make space on your community pages to reward users who are actively using the site in the way you’d like. If they’re creative in their contribution, showcase that creativity. This should be standard behaviour for any community manager but is too often overlooked.

Everyone has an opinion about food

  • There is no single right answer on what the best of anything food-related is; there are simply preferences and opinions. Make the most of your community’s desire to express their opinions and turn it into content.

If you’d like to chat to someone about how we can help you build an effective and engaged community for your brand, get in touch with Alastair Sibley.

Alastair is a veteran online community manager and strategist with over 10 years’ experience in the field. An avid gamer, cyclist and tortoise keeper he can be found on twitter (@alsibley) or hard at work in east London, amongst Ketchum’s other digital specialists.