October '20

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66 • RV PRO • October 2020 rv-pro.com reach RVillage users and even build their own sub-community within the platform. "We have a wonderful dealership pro- gram specifically designed to help dealers grow using the RVillage platform," he says. "We want dealers to thrive within RVillage (and) want them to have visi- bility and relevance in this digital social space, and we can help them with that in profound ways." The organization is so intent on helping dealers succeed on the platform, he adds, that it has assigned a separate department to focus on those clients. With a continually growing user base, Coleman says aggregation has been a top focus for RVillage. He points to businesses like Airbnb, Uber, and Amazon, which leverage existing properties, services, and products to grow their networks. "RVillage seeks to be the aggregation site for the RV industry," he says, adding that he hopes the platform becomes a canvas for RVers to "create content that can be visible to the rest of the world to learn about RVs, and then the rest happens by osmosis." Niche vs. Broad-Based Social Media With RVillage's success, one key ele- ment Coleman points to is the focus on niche social media networking over the typical broad-based social networking. "A broad-based social network is primarily based on people you already know in life – our friends, family, col- leagues, etc.," he says. "In a 'niche' social network, everyone arrives as strangers, and we are connected based on our mutual passion for the niche. In this case, RVing and living nomadically." Because of this difference, users are what Coleman refers to as "self-identi- fied". That means users welcome solu- tions offered to them regarding the pas- sion for RVing. "They want to know about repair facilities, great RV parks, and destina- tions to visit," Coleman says, adding that these users also take an interest in knowing about the aftermarket prod- ucts that can make their life easier and more enjoyable. Whether businesses choose to par- ticipate in social media on RVillage or other platforms like Facebook, Coleman says they should be focused on creating the conversations for the consumer, versus trying to penetrate existing ones. "Try to connect with the consumer in a conversation they are hungry for," he says. Given that social networks are trust- based ecosystems, Coleman says these platforms are deeply personal. "Connect with the consumer on a personal level (and) the rest will follow," he adds. Coleman cautions businesses against simply logging onto social platforms and continually posting or running ads nonstop, however. This method, he says, can quickly alienate end users. In a recent RV Industry Association webinar, Coleman pointed to a Facebook group of full-timer RVers as a ripe demo- graphic, but also a tricky environment for companies. If a dealer, for example, When approached properly, companies can use platforms like RVillage to tap into the end user market in a practical, effective way. IMAGES COURTESY RVILLAGE

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