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“What would happen to the pole industry if facebook disappeared or youtube went away or instagram was no longer a viable option for sharing? Would our community still hold power? If not, should we invest in marketing and community offline just as much as we do online?”

One more of the thought-provoking suggestions for our Pole Dancing Bloggers Association theme this month.

It really got me thinking – how much does the pole industry rely on current Social Media?  My gut says “lots.”  I see an awful lot of commercial marketing in my facebook feed – both products and services (teaching) – so I know places are investing time and effort into online media. So let’s say the Shit Hit The Fan or some other world-ending calamity befell us and the online tools we used were no longer an option.  What then? (Let’s pretend “world ending” only means the internet, and we can still pole!)

My mind instantly started to explore the meaning of Social Media to see if it’s only applicable online or what.  So I’m thinking “Social” – community, connections, all that biz.  And “Media” – mass or widely delivered communication (formerly papers/magazines, then radio and TV, now the internet).  It’s basically mass communication with all your friends and acquaintances.  Clearly mass marketing is much harder to do in person than online.  Reaching lots of people is pretty tricky even for, say, a troubadour who is mysteriously wandering around a city singing to strangers and not getting arrested; much more for someone who wants to share their pole dance classes and products. (Troubadour?  What the hell?)

Back to the point… the original question posits “should we invest in marketing and community offline just as much as we do online?” OFFline.  Man, that sounds rough – I love me some internet!  But we pole in person, not virtually.  And usually it’s in groups.  Built-in marketing, anyone?   It’s something like 7 times cheaper to keep a customer than make a new one, plus word of mouth is actually the best form of marketing because it’s built on an existing relationship which involves trust.  To me, this all means we SHOULD be investing time/money/effort into our offline communities.  So who should do it?

How about the studios?  In addition to regular classes they could do special things that foster community.  Have a comfortable lounge/lobby so people will visit before or after a class,  Give students a chance to have a showcase to show their friends and family their passion. Host a social event once in a while. These kinds of non-class things go a long, long way to building loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing.

How about the students? Though it wouldn’t be a “mass” marketing effort, it can certainly help the community stay strong and even grow.  When was the last time you shared your pole story with a non-poler, or participated in a dance party outside the studio, or even stopped in the parking lot to tell another student you appreciate sharing the experience with them?  This all fosters community offline and keeps people coming back for more and maybe telling their friends.

What do you think – should we be putting extra effort into our offline community building?

Check out the blog hop throughout the month to see other entries about pole and social media, or just follow the PDBA on facebook to see when new articles are posted.

The Social Media series
#1 – Effect of Social Media on the Pole Dance industry
#2 – Favorite pole accounts in Social Media
#3 – Creating your own space in Social Media
#4 – Fostering the offline community
#5 – Five Social Media tips for pole companies
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