Understanding Communities In Social Media Marketing
It’s not enough for a social media marketer to amass a huge following. As mentioned at the beginning of this module, social media marketers are responsible for fostering thriving communities – social units that create a feeling of fellowship with others as a result of sharing common attitudes, interest and goals.
Communities are an important component of social media as they:
- Incite engagement and every act of engagement brings your users closer to your brand which increases your brand’s visibility on the platform and attracts more potential customers to your profiles.
- Create a welcoming, engaging environment that fosters brand affinity and loyalty as community members will reference your brand as the entity responsible for their positive experience/growth.
- Are incubators of inspiration because they encourage its members to share their own stories which can create connections and inspire others to action.
- Foster trust – if you can get your followers to function as a community, it will be a sign that your brand is trustworthy, and you’ll attract more followers and earn higher retention rates as a result.
So let’s talk about how to build a community organically:
- Invite your friends: Invite people in your life who may be genuinely interested in your business to like/follow your account. They can support you by interacting with your posts and sharing your content. This initial audience helps you establish credibility, build your reputation and spread the word about your business right away.
- Welcome your customers: Invite people you currently do business with to like/follow your account. Facebook allows you to upload their email addresses or import your contacts from popular email services like iCloud, Outlook and Yahoo.
- Add social interaction CTA to the website: Such as a Facebook Like button or box to your website. Using the Facebook Like button allows visitors to like your page without leaving your website. You can also add the Facebook Like button to ‘Thank You’ pages that appear after someone signs up for your mailing list, submits a lead form or makes a purchase. Since those visitors have already connected with your business in one manner, they will likely connect with you on Facebook as well.
- Connect Personal & Business Profiles: Such as a Personal Facebook profile with a Facebook Business Page. Every employee should add your company as their current employer in their personal profile’s Work section. When you do, you’ll be linking directly to the company page so others can click over at will. Go to your personal ‘About’ page and edit your ‘Work and Education’ information. Click ‘Add a Workplace’ and select your Facebook page as the company. After you enter details about your position, check the “I currently work here” box and choose the dates as applicable. Make sure the visibility is set to Public and click Save Changes.
- Use hashtags in posts: As previously mentioned, hashtags are a great way to expose your content to new audiences. If your content is compelling and engaging, people searching on your post’s hashtags may be inspired to follow you for more.
- Cross-Promote: Do this on all social platforms and share the links to your other social platforms when relevant.
- Join Platform groups: Join interest groups that are relevant to your business and share the link to your page or page content.
- Include the link in email signatures: Whenever you send emails to your customers, colleagues, vendors and other contacts, add links to your social accounts along with your website link.
Promote at Events: Encourage followership in-store or at events. Consider offering discounts for new fans/followers too.
Follow other relevant accounts: Following other accounts creates goodwill amongst users and can inspire them to follow you in return.
Develop a consistent posting schedule: A consistent posting schedule will demonstrate that you’re reliable and foster trust within your community which creates loyalty. Retention is an important aspect of community growth – if you don’t have a strategy for keeping the followers you gain, all your work will be for nothing!
Use emojis & colloquial terms: As mentioned earlier, using emojis and colloquial terms when relevant shows that you “speak the language” of the community…that you understand them and want to communicate in a way that is relatable and comfortable. This also fosters affinity.
Respond to follower comments: It’s imperative to respond to your community – if your followers don’t feel like they’re only being spoken AT and not engaged in a conversation, they will assume that your business is self-serving and doesn’t really care about their consumer’s needs. Responding to your followers also humanizes your brand and increases affinity.
Use GIFS, quote images & memes: Similar to using emojis, GIFs, quote images and memes are the languages of the social media space – when used in a relevant way, your content becomes more engaging, relatable, and shareable and your brand becomes more likeable.
Offer special promotions to followers: When you offer special promotions to followers, they feel just that…special. You’re demonstrating that you care about this community and want to reward them for their loyalty and engagement – this is a classic example of positive reinforcement and will almost guarantee their continued loyalty and increased brand affinity.
Take note of these paid methods for building a community on each platform:
- Use Facebook Custom Audiences to target Page ads to email list subscribers, leads, website visitors, etc.
- Use Facebook Ads Manager to promote updates from your page and links to your website.
- Link your Instagram account to Facebook Business Manager to create Instagram ads with your handle overlaid on the image and a clear CTA to follow.
- Set up a Followers campaign with Twitter Ads.
- Launch Follower Ads on LinkedIn.
- Launch image/photo ads on other platforms with your SnapCode and Snapchat username to promote followers and the mobile link to your account.
Pay relevant influencers to increase awareness of your account by either allowing them to take over your account for a set period of time or creating content with a CTA to follow your brand’s account.
Now, here are some best practices for managing the community you’ve built:
- Be sure to develop an authentic, consistent brand voice/tone – communities appreciate honesty and dependability.
- As mentioned previously, responsiveness is key. Your followers should know that you care about their comments and aren’t only there to promote your brand. Plus, the more you engage with your followers, the more they feel appreciated and compelled to continue participating. Engagement creates more engagement.
- In actuality, 80% of the content you share in the community should cater to the interests of your audience and 20% should be about promoting your business. The 80% should still support ideas and insights that your brand believes in – again, all content should be authentic. The 20% can promote your business but also provide value to your audience by including a discount or special offer.
- It could also just include a persuasive CTA that inspires your audience to learn more about your company so it possibly leads to conversion in the future.
- Consider having recurring topics or post series that fans and followers can look forward to participating in (and encourages recurring engagement).
- Consider using a personal identifier (initials or first name) with your responses to humanize and increase affinity, especially with social customer service.
- Pay attention to what posts/content is resonating with your audience (on your owned channels and competitor channels) and optimize. Again, posts should always provide value to your followers and not just be in service of the business.
I know you might agree with some of the points that I have raised in this article. You might not agree with some of the issues raised. Let me know your views about the topic discussed. We will appreciate it if you can drop your comment. Thanks in anticipation.
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