SMWNairobi Plenary Session – Monetizing Community Leadership: Leveraging Social Media And Web Based Platforms In Creating A Community Of Loyal Audiences And Providing Value.

Moderated by: Onaivi Dania- Founder and Team Lead of Precepts & Mentors,

Panelists:

  • Edirin Edewor – Founder of the Online Publishers & Entrepreneurs Network (OPEN), a community of over 10,000 Authors, Writers and Entrepreneurs.
  • Vanessa Mbamarah – Founder and Creative Lead at Ztallion
  • Felix Mbugua – Co-founder and CEO, Legibra
  • Grant James –  Client Acquisitions Manager, Meltwater
  • Lebo Khantwane

The distinguished panel of community leaders and creatives gave their insights on the key aspects of creating a strong online community foundation and the supplementing factors of leveraging on the online communities for growth.

Community Leadership: Guiding, Sharing, Connecting people to reach a goal/goals

Vanessa “LOOK (Visibility – we need to be conscious of what we put out), THINK ( Give the consumers options) , ACT( Tell the people how to proceed with the product) & CARE ( Get feedback from the consumers)”

The panel agreed and each gave examples of the vital first steps in building a loyal community;

  • Build trust
  • Relationships based on relatability with your community,
  • Providing value (inspiration, information, etc) before even thinking of monetizing.

In Vanessa’s case this was through sharing her story of moving from Nigeria to Benin having little money, not speaking the language and with a new baby, but still pulling through and finding success in business and later on educating others as a Google partner. Transparency drew people to listen to her.

Edirin founded her Facebook group OPEN (the Online Publishers and Entrepreneurs Network) as a platform to help Nigerian authors get their books on Amazon  and sell them, as she realised there was a gap in information. Only after offering expertise and her personal story did she then sell her book to the group – she had built on a foundation of trust.

On the importance of analytics and context in producing content, Grant of Meltwater “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”, he said. Grant emphasized on the importance of checking and analysing the numbers on social platforms (i.e. engagement, reach , demographics) in order to find out what content resonates and with whom. This is where creating and sharing content based on the context is drawn from.

The topic of the fickle and sometimes unpredictable nature of social media networks was brought up by an audience member and the panel unanimously agreed that it’s vital to have a platform that you own, be that a website or an email subscriber list. “Establish a website as the foundation building block and work on it so that it becomes a reference point for your social media activities.”says Felix,CEO Legibra.

Edirin shared that her Facebook page had been taken down before but due to the strength of her community and the existing email list, it was not too hard  for her to build a new one. “Don’t build on rented land” was the advice she gave to people wanting to build their own community.