Nike’s online community built around its Run+ mobile app not only benefits members through personal training tips and challenges, but also helps the company gain an in-depth understanding of its users’ interests and behaviors.
Online fashion brand Asos’ social followers constantly share content and respond to comments.
Spin Sucks’ 80,000-strong community’s passion for content marketing has made the brand a leader in the PR and communications industry.
Social media plays a critical role in building a community of loyal customers who can positively impact your brand or business.
Building and maintaining a social media community around your brand enables engagement and ongoing connections with your followers - providing insights into customer preferences, improving reputation and thought leadership, promoting your brand message, attracting more potential customers at the lowest possible cost, and enhancing visibility and reach through sharing and word-of-mouth.
All these goodies come your way only after you’ve successfully taken these two steps.
Step One: Build Your Community
Start with your audience. Thoroughly understand the group of people you’d want to be part of your community. Your “audience personas” are the basis for the way you’ll deliver value, the type of content you’ll create, the incentives you’ll offer so they will follow your brand, and the overall way you’ll engage with them.
Learn how the different social platforms work, the options and tools they offer, and how people interact on them. Then select the platform where your specific demographic most often hangs out - LinkedIn if you’re a B2B, Twitter if you’re targeting affluent millennials, Instagram if you’re in the fashion or consumer goods business, and so on.
Create content - text, photos, or videos - that speaks to your audience and deliver unique value in terms of providing information, answering their questions, responding to their pain points, galvanizing them to action, or even entertaining them. Finally, start engaging by starting conversations: Post comments, ask questions, be generous with “LIKES,” and slowly but surely build trust and likeability.
What if you had tens of thousands of followers but almost-zero engagement? More engagement means more leads and more sales. It’s time to take step two.
Step Two: Increase Community Engagement and Passion
You can achieve this goal a few ways.
You can increase engagement and your visibility by working with industry influencers who already have their own communities and tons of followers. Tag them, link back to them, like and comment on their posts so their followers can be intrigued and check you out. High-traffic engagement almost always brings traffic back to you.
Another strategy is to start LinkedIn or Facebook groups, depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C brand. LinkedIn groups provide a space where professionals in the same industry can network, share best practices, acquire feedback, find partners/employers/employees, and promote their expertise.
Follow these sure-to-fire-up-your-community tips and tactics to strengthen your community:
- Make communication easy - Stay engaged with your fans and let them know you’re there, whether it’s through Twitter conversations, Instagram stories, or Facebook Messenger
- Stay committed - Make sure you can devote time and energy to manage social follower-brand interactions
- Be fresh and original - Post timely, new, and original content every day or adapt existing content into new formats
- Show appreciation - Be sure to thank and reward followers who spread the word about, and advocate for, your brand through their likes, shares, and comments
- Implement social listening - Monitor audience feedback to learn what your prospective customers like or dislike about your brand
- Build loyalty and trust - Focus on learning your community’s key pain points and how you can provide solutions through blog posts, how-to guides, and customer case studies
- Show generosity - Win even more love by showing you care through giveaways, contests, and similar incentives
- Stay honest - Be open and transparent by admitting errors, facing criticism with grace, and putting a human face to your brand.
Building an engaged community can be hard work, but ultimately rewarding. This is labor intensive, so you may not want to go it alone, but to partner with a social media expert who can help you engage your target audiences and balance commercial and objective, curated content, as well as provide content creation and maintenance across platforms.