Hello, Emily again while Sam’s on the move! My inspiration for this week’s blog is the so called “Queen of Imgur”, Sarah Schaaf. The image sharing site, used by 150 million monthly active users, has at its core a representative – the voice of Imgur.

Imgur has built a community based on ‘upvoted’ user content – to the extent that it’s now the place many large companies (Old Spice, Sony, eBay) go to for valuable information on a tricky audience to target – “nerdy millennial males” according to Forbes (who are predicted to make up about 40 million internet users by 2017).

Sarah’s role as Imgur grows from an image sharing platform to something that more closely resembles Reddit (with its loyal user base spending more time socializing on the site) is really interesting. If you are building a social media presence that aims to attract a particular community,  what can we learn from Sarah Schaaf and Imgur?

In becoming the voice of Imgur users, Sarah has had to wear many hats. She’s a friend, moderator, support staff, advocate and even a meme in her own right. To do this, she claims to constantly have her “stethoscope on the heartbeat of Imgurians”. This approach works particularly well with B2C marketing efforts. Encourage your customers to interact with each other and observe their conversations on your posts as well as joining in yourself. Try to make listening in to your customers a key part of your morning social media routine.

What Schaaf does so brilliantly at Imgur is realise and work with this finger on the pulse attitude. As Sam always says, social media is about PEOPLE. Although Imgur are focusing more on increasing revenue in 2016, the community are Sarah’s top priority. She doesn’t make the mistake of some and assume that relationships with customers/users online are only for conveying serious sales or business messages; “the value of coming to Imgur and getting a bite-sized moment of entertainment is just as important as deep personal connections”. So don’t be afraid of having a little fun! To truly engage a loyal community you need to provide your audience with things that make them laugh, get them riled up and ready to discuss; it doesn’t have to be all business! In fact, this will often turn people off. As Sam mentioned in her vlog, think about what your audience want to hear on social media – not what you want to tell them.
The bottom line is, BE YOU! Don’t say anything you wouldn’t say in real life.

Also; Be All Ears! Really listen to your audience, your target market or your community to get to grips with what makes them tick, what makes them stay. Then, when it comes to putting on your customer service hat, you’ll be well versed in what they want to hear!

Be mindful though, especially if you are trying to target a younger audience. Millennials don’t respond well to advertising and marketing ploys are just that – inauthentic spin.

Schaaf is right when she says; “You have no idea what the next huge joke is going to be. No one is going to be able to predict or commoditize that.” So don’t try! Instead, spend your energy building relationships, being your authentic self, and listening out regularly to the ever changing tone and mood of your market. Be open, honest and show that you are there to help.

Think you’ve got it covered? Then step forward, with the power vested in my keyboard I dub thee customer service royalty.