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July 15, 2011

Your Online Community is Your Hub

by massmarotta
Octopus

In more aggressive terms, your online community is like an octopus. Your first reaction to this metaphor is probably to take offense. Because let’s face it, an octopus isn’t exactly one of Mother Nature’s cutest creations. But don’t take this personally. This is a positive comparison. What I’m referring to is how an octopus behaves in the wild.  It uses its six arms…let me digress for a minute. You’ll notice I said ‘six’ and ‘arms’. I recently learned that octopuses have A) arms and legs, not tentacles and B) six arms for manipulation and two legs for push-off propulsion.

Ok, let’s get back to the point. An octopus uses its six arms to gather food and manipulate objects. Ultimately returning those objects to the center of its body to feed or observe further. This is very much how your community works. You have social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and LinkedIn. These are the “tentacles.” You cast these tentacles out into the web because you know your customers spend their time talking about your brand in those communities and networks and you want to show a presence and take part in those conversations. This is great. But the ultimate goal should be to pull them back to your community and have the conversations on your home turf where it’s more easily managed and you hold control. They don’t call it “home-field advantage” for nothing.  

This is a new play on the old “Hub and Spoke” business model. That model is archaic in my opinion. It’s too passive. So try providing value as you normally would when engaging your customers.  And as a final call to action, mention “Hey we have a great example of that on <insert your community here>.” You’ll see an uptick in pageviews, registrations and participation the more you practice the octopus model.

Are you effectively pulling customers back to your community? Have you tried the “octopus” model?