4 Ways to Engage Like an Army Wife
We often discuss engagement in the digital world, but the term also exists in multiple forms of marketing. I recently spoke with Star Henderson and Tara Crooks, two humble, passionate, and down-to-earth women who founded the Army Wife Network (AWN), a powerful and successful organization that empowers and connects Army wives.
The AWN started in April 2009 as an umbrella organization joining Army Wife Talk Radio (AWTR) and Field Problems™ (FP). The website – which features Field Exercise™ events, podcasts, Live Chat, featured columns and blogs, military shopping links, a resource database, and an interactive Community Toolbar – certainly holds true to its tagline, “Interactive Empowerment for Army Wives.”
The original Army wives were kind enough to share their secrets to successfully engaging their community both online and offline.
Here are the best practices of how to engage like an Army wife:
1) Take your online success offline. The Army Wife Talk Radio station started as a platform for Army wives to connect with one other. Following the success of the radio show, Tara made an executive decision to transform the talk radio show into a hands-on event. With that, Star and Tara began planning an event that was sure to engage their fellow Army wives. Their secret ingredient: creating an event that they themselves would want to attend. That’s when Field Exercise™ was born – and the rest is history.
2) Cover all your bases. The AWN markets to a specific community, but a specific community does not necessarily equate to a specific social channel. Some marketers warn that you can spread yourself thin if you get yourself involved in too many platforms. But more often than not, maximizing your reach and marketing across platforms is key.
The Army wives have over 37,000 fans on Facebook and over 7,000 followers on Twitter. In addition, they recently hopped on the Pinterest bandwagon and started their own page. They also created an Army Wife Network Community Toolbar to engage their community 24/7.
3) The best way to engage is to stay engaged. If you want to connect with your community, then keep the conversation going. The Army wives connect with military spouses constantly over email, calling this Q&A service “Field Problems.” Star recalls a time when one of the wives reached out to her, very upset about her husband’s deployment:
“I continue to reach out and see how things are going for the spouse. Her husband ended up attending one of my husband’s military classes. They were both surprised that their wives knew each other and had been working together behind the scenes to understand and support this next phase of their husbands’ military lives.”
4) Be passionate, and the rest will come easy. If you love what you do, then engaging with your audience will come naturally. It sounds simple, but people often forget that the wall that stands between them and their audience is passion.
“It suits my personality,” says Star. “Volunteering is almost a full-time job when you’re an Army wife. I like helping others and I especially like helping them with problems that I/my family have already overcome. By the same token, I love that there are others who have gone before me to solve challenges that I might one day face. In a word, I’m talking about ‘community.’ We write in our book 1001 Things to Love About Military Life: #370. Knowing that no matter where you are on your journey, someone is right there with you who shares the experience or can mentor you because they’ve ‘been there and done that.’”
Tara agrees - “My favorite part of Army Wife Network is when you receive an email that says ‘I feel normal’ or ‘You allowed me to get out and find a friend.’ The funniest card I ever received (and it’s on my wall in front of my desk) says ‘Thank you, Tara, you made me laugh more than I have in years. You are the Chelsea Handler of Army wives.’ Now, I’ve been called Oprah of the Armed Forces but never Chelsea Handler.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Army wives, read here. And as always, please share your thoughts/tips on how you engage with your audience with us on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from YOU!