Why you should consider transitioning your audience engagement and management to your own private platform.
As more businesses acknowledge the importance of real-time engagement to their bottom line, social media platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp have become the default way we communicate with our customers.
Whether it's to send quotes, schedule appointments, or answer support queries, social media platforms offer messaging solutions that seem to address communication needs, supported by a low barrier to entry as most consumers are already on these sites and familiar with the functionality.
So it's no surprise to us that many of the customers we onboard onto our Fabrik platform in have historically relied on these platforms to manage their own community engagement.
As these platforms expand in reach and influence, so too does our awareness of their limitations which range from the mild inconvenience of mixing your business and personal messaging in the same place, to the moral conundrum of supporting platforms that incite the spread of fake news and contribute to social division.
Fabrik seeks to offer an ethical alternative, and has been designed as a private, secure way of engaging with your audience in your own branded environment. With your data stored in a private cloud environment, your community's information can only be accessed by you and never harvested or sold to third-party advertisers.
In addition, Fabrik is a converged technology tool that brings together many different parts of your business operations - each of which come with their own costs and are managed in silos - bringing ease through integrated, fit-for-purpose tools and workflows.
Many of our customers who have consolidated their costs and efforts into their own platform have experienced these benefits on a daily basis, and here are just a few you can consider if you're thinking about how to transform the way you serve your audience or community.
#1: Build intimacy with your community in your own private, inclusive space.
Fabrik offers your community your own branded service point in the form of a mobile app, which - when used to bring all community engagement and messaging into one place - fosters a sense of community that is noticeably absent in platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
Your most loyal audience will find you here day after day, creating community cohesion, loyalty and increased engagement over time.
Using a public social network can result in your community and security communication getting lost in a sea of other personal or business conversations, and multiple groups making it difficult to follow important conversations.
The customisable Messaging elements of Fabrik also allow different sub-communities to arise based on different interest groups such as Gardening, Pets and Fitness - which facilitates connections between like-minded individuals.
Hayden Conradie, the Manager of the Upper Umhlanga Security Trust, says what started out as an emergency channel evolved, providing features specifically for older residents, for example.
“People can lend a hand, discuss a market or places that deliver food. All that chatter was on a single WhatsApp group before and that was a nightmare.”
"Now the Emergency channel on the app stays open and the other channels involving pets and bargains and the rest can be muted."
Fabrik is a platform that adds value to many different kinds of communities with different demographics, and although we hear concerns from customers who are sceptical about how easy it would be for example older folks to be comfortable using, what we've seen is that they do so with relative ease.
To illustrate this point, let's take a look at one of our media customers who are a radio station situated in Mozambique with an average listening age of 50+. The station started using Fabrik in mid 2019 and have seen an 1000% increase in app engagement (visits, unique visitors, registered users visitors) since their launch.
In the same station, 43% of those who've downloaded the app have also registered their profiles which means that they're opting in to receive and send messages from the studio.
To make it easier for even the biggest technophobe out there to use Fabrik, the platform also offers our app membership a dedicated Support desk, as well handy in-app FAQ material to help those who are less comfortable with technology find the support they require.
Another concern we hear quite often is that audiences who are data-sensitive will be more tentative to use a platform like Fabrik, but what we're seeing in some of our customers whose audiences are of a lower LSM are using the app just as much, if not more than our customers with more affluent audiences.
This is partly due to the fact that the app has been built with data sensitivity in mind which means that app download sizes are kept as lightweight as possible (±15MB on the Google Play Store or ±35MB on the App Store), and the app's live-stream uses only ±14MB to stream per hour.
A community radio station based in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal who adopted Fabrik in late-2017 has seen a 1,349% increase in engagement since the month of their launch - which indicates that their app membership is growing at an exponential rate year-on-year.
Out of nearly 20,000 people who have downloaded the app, more than half are engaging in messaging and, this year alone, their live-stream has been listened to nearly 400,000 times.
#2: Build engagement workflows that easily fold in your other initiatives. Fabrik is a converged platform that integrates all of our customers' community and audio management functionality seamlessly into one suite of applications, eliminating the need to manage multiple databases and technology tools, and freeing up your team's time to spend on other things.
One of Fabrik's most popular applications is Echocast, which brings together powerful podcasting and audio management capabilities into one place - equipping any media entity to capture, store and categorise audio to be shared instantly or saved to be used at a later stage.
Due to its real-time audio archival functionality, you can also retrieve a piece of your previously aired broadcast within minutes, which is particularly useful for compliance and audit purposes or compiling magical on-air moments to be played again on-air.
Explore the features of Echocast:
#3: Keep your audience safe and secure and protect their personal information and engagement data.
The Fabrik platform has been designed with your audience's safety and privacy in mind, and neither the mobile app nor any part of the platform will ever track your members' personal information.
What this means is that your community will never be subjected to predatory advertising based on their personal data, and if, for some reason, you ever decide to cancel your Fabrik subscription, any data related to your audience engagement would be handed over to your community to keep forever, and is not retained by Fabrik.
Another measure Fabrik will soon be implementing is a mechanism by which app members can report any content they find objectionable based on the community's guidelines, as well as report other members they find are in contravention of those guidelines.
As any online community grows in size and chattiness, it becomes crucial that members feel that they are in a safe and respectful environment that upholds their values, which is why the addition of this functionality is important.
As an administrator of that community, it can be a concern when considering how to create that environment, and ensure that members of that community behave respectfully towards each other and that conversations do not spiral into abusive or inappropriate behaviour.
#4: Opportunities to generate revenue for community initiatives.
Many of our Fabrik customers in Community Radio and Residential Communities typically have a specific mandate to raise funds that can be allocated to community initiatives and social upliftment.
Choosing to adopt your own private platform means that you can monetise it in the way you want to which, with Fabrik, is always in your control and respectful towards your audience's data.
Within Fabrik, there are a number of advertising inventory options that are available to you which you can use to generate revenue for your community, and to change the way that you engage with your advertisers and transform your adverting offering.
Tamie Mbombo, Marketing Manager at KZN-based community station Izwi LoMzansi, has achieved significant results through the modern inventory available in the platform that "makes their advertising offering more compelling":
"It's great for smaller stations without the infrastructure to compete with bigger stations. Advertising has been bliss!"
#5: Access to ongoing app updates and feature enhancements. Fabrik's Software-as-a-Service subscription model means that your community will have access to ongoing updates and feature enhancements that are deployed on a regular basis across Fabrik's suite of applications.
More importantly, as your content offering grows, you can elect to add new integrations and feeds into your own app, providing a customised experience for your members and growing with your audience as their expectations evolve.
Hear from our software development teams about our approach to technology enhancements on our Feature blog, or peruse our Release Log for a sense of the major updates that are constantly added to your applications.
In summary, the benefit of consolidating your audience engagement into an all-in-one product like Fabrik is that it not only makes the management thereof easier and less time-consuming, but also allows you to expand, grow and take advantage of that engagement for the benefit of your community.