We were at a client meeting last week presenting social media strategy, and Marijean was kind enough to mention my past history as founder of a company called Rowdy.com. Rowdy was known as a “social network” and was focused on NASCAR racing. We built a platform to blog, share photos, video, comments, and observations on racing. Facebook wasn’t out yet, so we had to build it ourselves.
We produced award-winning podcasts, video, and content on our own to get the conversation started, but our primary goal was to create a place where real fans could get to know each other and get closer to their favorite sport and those involved in it. Rowdy grew very quickly primarily because we gave the fans something they could not get on their own–a singular voice that was about the real sport, not corporate spin. Our tagline was “Rowdy: Tell It Like It Is” and that’s exactly what we did. It was truly cutting edge and and was one the best examples of online community available, regardless of the topic.
One of the participants at our meeting remembered the site and was truly complimentary. I think it enhanced our reputation and credibility just a little and I was flattered to have had a positive impact on a race fan through that effort.
Cool, you say. So what? That stuff is old hat now! The takeaway is that even though that site was shut down earlier this year (after a two-year stint as a property of The Sporting News), folks still remember the quality of the content and the friendships they had there. Many fans are still offline friends–one couple who met there are actually getting married! Fans remember fondly meeting IRL at the races after friending one another at Rowdy. It was a true bonding experience because it was real people, useful and engaging content and a friendly, open forum for sharing and celebrating a passion.
So…are you creating that environment for your customers? Are you providing an open, engaging resource full of good content, friendly people, and social connective tissue? Are you using the tools currently available to maximize connection and interaction? If not, why not? Quit acting like this doesn’t matter. It does.