Think about your favorite communities. Is it your work community? School? Neighborhood? Fandom? What is it that these have in common? Apart from you, I mean. It’s a passionate commitment to a cause. Now imagine having that for your brand. The community members are your customers, sales team and customer service agents all in one, and without being on the payroll. Edelman’s Trust Barometer has been continually seeing more trust in “people like me”, so they may be more effective than your sales team.
A lot has already been written on how to create a social media community so I won’t cover that here.
Building a Social Media Community
Do you already have a social media community? These tips will help you make it more effective.
- Communities don’t appear overnight. Think of when you started college. How long did it take for you to fit in? It’s the same online. You can set a goal of building a community, but it takes weeks and sometimes months. Join in the potential community members’ conversations to gain their trust. Be a friend, and then entice them in. Oh, and keep the attention going. Just like at college, being part of the community (even if you’re leading it) takes work.
- A community is an equal value exchange. You may be wanting more customers from it, but they need to get just as much from it. It could be swag, or recognition, or knowledge. Have a look at your community and see what motivates them.
- “Community is about taking the good with the bad”. I’ve stolen the quote from Hootsuite’s building a social media community course because it’s true. You can’t control the community members, so sometimes they will do and say things you don’t want to hear. What you can do is create an environment that encourages positive behaviors and conversation.
Who Does Community Well?
Hootsuite has done it well. Their ambassador program (of which I’m a member) has more than 1,000 global members who create content, run Hootup events, join in online chats and advocate for the brand. If you don’t, believe me, check out the #HootAmb and #LifeOfOwly hashtags.
Another one that I have a connection to is Melbourne’s Morning Peninsula Cheap Fruit and Vegetables. Whenever I pass on reports of diminishing Facebook reach Nelle laughs at me. Because she has built up a strong community their Facebook organic reach is amazing. They also had a vocal disgruntled customer recently, but the many happy community members supported MPCFV with debunking some exaggerated claims and they actually gained new customers.
Staying in Melbourne, have you checked out KeepCup? This re-usable coffee cup company has community members taking selfies with their cups in exotic places. KeepCup then shares this user-generated content. Endorsements, photography and expanded reach all for a little recognition.
Learn more about Building a Social Media Community
Every community is different so there are no hard and fast rules in community building, but you can get some recommendations to help you along. Hootsuite’s education resources are brilliant, and why not learn from someone who does it so well. They also have a couple of certification programs to prove your knowledge to clients and prospective employers.
Are you involved in a social media community? Why is it amazing? Share in the comments so we can learn from each other.