Beginning with the raging success of MySpace in the early 2000s, consumers have been using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter for more than a decade now. Brands realised the potential of this medium for marketing and have been using social platforms since.
Social media has made it possible for people to connect across boundaries. It also offers a plethora of amazing opportunities to businesses of every size and shape.
Instead of just using social networks as a marketing platform to push and advertise their products or services, businesses now use social media to foster engagement and build customer experience. The ability to connect and communicate with a target audience directly, allowed big and small brands to build a solid fan base and grow their community easily.
The significance of having a social media community.
Not all brands are successful in building a community on social networks. However, brands that are succeeding in building communities on social media aren’t playing the numbers game. They are allowing social media to do what it was designed for, and that is building communities.
What does building a community mean for you and your business? Well, having customers is one thing, but having communities is on another level.
When your communities come together and form communities, you’re pretty much assured of having a dedicated and loyal band of followers on your hands who are yours. This is a group of people who will sing praises for you to their friends and families, share your content, and buy your products or engage your services.
Sounds good and exciting, doesn’t it?
Everyone is talking about content, content marketing and distribution, but the topic of building a community on social media of engaged followers is not discussed enough.
One major drawback in building an online community is the fact that it is not all that easy. But if you want to build an engaged community, well, that is another level of challenge.
The good news is that if you approach this with the right mindset, with the right intentions and do the right things, you can turn your social platforms to work for you. You’d be able to harness your customers to come together for them to share their brand experiences with you.
Building Your Social Media Community
One important point to remember regarding social media communities is that companies don’t build them, people do. Your role as a business owner to foster a community are:
- To continuously listen to your customers and followers.
- You must always strive to improve.
- To live up to expectations.
To foster a community, consider the following tips to help you in creating an engaged network of followers that will support your brand.
1. Know your audience.
Your social media community is a conglomeration of various individuals who behave in the same way. Each one of them has unique behaviours and reasoning that may enable you to predict how they will interact with your brand.
You can do this more efficiently by segmenting your audience and targeting these smaller groups with the right messaging to reach them more effectively.
To create a robust social media community, you need to:
- Understand that communication is vital.
- Know your “family.”
- Have different relationships with different segments of your family.
Your engagement with the different segments of your community will differ based on what you know. This results in better crafting responses to address these different segments efficiently.
2. Solve the pain points of your community.
Using social media just to aggressively push and promote your products is a big no, no. Today’s consumers are more discerning and are quickly turned off when products or services are shoved down their throats without abandon.
A more effective method is to interact with them and learn what their key pain points are. Any business worth its salt should be empathic, listen, and do its best to acknowledge, address, and solve problems for your customers.
There are likely plenty of businesses out there that offer products like yours, it is therefore imperative that you stand out. This can be achieved by building trust in your community and helping your customers with issues that are unique to them.
Encourage and invite your community members to join in helping others deal with such issues. And by promoting user-generated content on your social media channels, you offer real value and ultimately build loyalty.
3. Listen to your audience.
We have already mentioned that empathy and listening are vital components in building a social media community, and we cannot stress this enough. For people to interact with you, there is a need for you to produce content that your audience would want to consume.
For this reason, the first thing you must do is to find out what they want, and there are many watts to go about this.
- Ask your fans what they want to talk about in a quick video.
- Follow through by implementing initiatives based on how they responded.
- Place your followers and their needs at the centre of your social media strategy.
- Engage them further by actively listening to their social chatter.
- Instead of asking your followers to share photos of their purchases, ask them to share content about how your products impacted their lives. Note that user-generated content is gold.
- Focus your social media channels on lifestyle, not just on your products or services.
Do note that purely promotional content, as it was how it’s done in the past, no longer makes that of a dent. It has been found that it even reduces engagement.
Take your brand to the next level by offering fans behind-the-scenes content that shows the inside of your company, or better yet, how your product is developed.
4. Be generous.
We have mentioned that user-generated content is gold. Be generous and give members of your community a moment in the spotlight to share their content and spark exciting discussions on your social profiles.
To encourage this among members of your community, you can offer incentives like discounts, coupons, or giveaways. Also, you can show your deep appreciation for their efforts by highlighting their valuable contributions in the spotlight.
Investigate your social media data and find out who your top contributors are. These people are responsible for engagement on your website. The advantage of getting more feedback, shares, and comments is, the more likely your posts will reach a higher percentage of your followers.
Creating content that targets your top users and adding a personal touch to all your communications, builds relationships and helps your fans and followers feel connected in the community surrounding your brand.
5. Make your business easy to find.
There’s a good reason why we put this at the last of the list when it might just as well be the first, as it should. It is simply because many companies overlook this necessity.
We will not go into details about how this happens, but the basic task you must do is to ensure that your business is discoverable. You can’t build your online presence, much more build and foster communities, if you can’t simply be found online.
To illustrate this is connecting Bluetooth devices. If one wants to connect but is not set to be discovered, no connection can be established. The same goes for your brand online.
You won’t be able to grow your social media community or have people spread the word about you and your product or services unless customers can easily connect with your business.
Here are some tricks you can use to ensure your brand is accessible to your prospects and customers.
- Ensure your business website URL and your social media handles are featured on business cards and other print media.
- Check that a link to your website is present in your social media descriptions.
- Inspect if your social sharing icons are prominent on your website.
- Don’t rely solely on automated messages and make sure to personalise your email responses.
- Track all associated hashtags and mentions to know who is talking about you and engage with those who are.
Building a social media community i more than just promotion. It is a great opportunity for brands to build a community with a little effort and creativity.
When you play your cards right, you stand a great chance of engaging your existing customers and raising your bottom line in terms of prospects and exposure.
If you want to explore possibilities that can be brought about by fostering communities for your brand, Accentuate Web Design and Marketing have Social Media Marketing Experts who can help you reach your customers online.
Learn to value your community, provide for them, involve them and excite them. A little effort and honesty will give you so much more in return.