How You Can Attract And Build A Social Media Community
Building my personal network is so important to me that last week I flew 2,340 miles from New York City to San Diego to attend Social Media Marketing World. My only goal was to meet in real life the people I connect with on social media.
I wasn’t alone.
Chris Brogan said, “I’m definitely [at #SMMW15] to meet and connect. If you SEE me somewhere and find some dumb reason NOT to connect with me, stop it. Go the hell up and say the hell hello.”
While the Social Media Examiner team did a great job of community building via social networks and communications before the event, it’s not the same as meeting your peers face-to-face.
Human connections are at the heart of social media. It’s the one element most marketers forget when they think about social media. Are you one of them?
Key social media community point:
- You don’t want just anyone in your community. You want the people interested in you, your brand, your product, and/or your business.
This allows your message to break through because your community wants to receive it. As a result, you can persuade your social media community to take the next step towards at least one of these 3 business objectives that yields measurable results.
- Subscribe to your email newsletter.
- Purchase your products and services.
- Become fans of your brand and company.
How do you attract and build a social media community?
Here are 10 actionable marketing tactics to grow a vibrant social media community that supports you, your brand, your product and your business.
1. Determine the goals for your social media community
Select measurable objectives before starting to develop your social media base. These goals should help you achieve your business objectives.
The top social media community objectives include:
- Build your brand. If no one knows your brand, it’s difficult to persuade them to consider your offering, let alone purchase from you.
- Establish your thought leadership. This is a key step to increase social media recognition. It’s also critical post-sales for B2B sales.
- Create your house file. Bring your social media followers back to your owned media entities where you can contact them on your terms.
- Convert followers into customers. This is where your connection becomes a business relationship. It’s called the third moment of truth.
- Encourage customers to purchase again. These are profitable sales since you’re marketing to existing customers. It’s known as retention.
- Delight your raving fans. These people love your brand and products. They promote your offering for you.
2. Know yourself
Face it—if you’re not clear about who you are and what you stand for, you can’t convince others to be interested in what you’re saying or selling.
Too often this step isn’t stated. It’s assumed you know what you represent. But I urge you not to do that!
Take the time to write down and consider these factors and make conscious decisions about them to guide your social media activity.
Define your niche. Decide what your want to be known for on social media. Be as clear and specific as possible. This is core to building your business and your brand. (Here’s help to define your brand’s DNA.)
Two great social media examples of well-defined niches are:
- Jon Loomer is laser focused on advanced Facebook techniques.
- RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary tests out the latest tools to find better, more efficient ways for social media participation. The best part: Cleary has a continuous stream of stuff to write about.
3. Identify your customers
This should be obvious. If you don’t know who your target audience is, how can you talk to them or target them?
Create a marketing persona and a social media persona to better understand how your offering meets your audience’s needs. (Here’s how people act on social media in 2015 based on Global Web Index findings.)
Answer the question: What keeps your key customers up at night?
Don’t limit yourself just to your buyers. Apply this process to influencers and actual users.
4. Develop your own platform
Before developing your social media presence, build your home base. It’s Internet real estate you own and can direct people to from various social media locations.
Regardless of how social media platforms evolve and change their rules, your home base remains under your control!
My home base of choice is a blog. Here’s why:
- It can be associated with your website.
- It’s a form of social media where visitors can share and interact with you via the comment section.
- It supports your search optimization efforts.
- It’s a simplified CMS (Content Management System.)
Here’s how to start a successful business blog based on my experience)
5. Build your social media presence
Once you understand the basics, you can start establishing yourself on social media networks.
- Explore your category’s major platforms. Check how people participate and what they’re interested in. Examine what your peers and competitors are doing.
- Find your tribe on each social media network. Seek the people who share your interests and determine who the key thought leaders are. While it’s more time consuming, don’t purchase followers. It’s better to have a smaller number of followers who engage with you regularly.
- Develop your outpost on each social media platform. Associate a face with your social media identity. Add images and branding to support your presence.
- Decide what and how you’ll interact on social media. At its core, this is your content. Before sharing information, consider the type of content and interactions you want to encourage. Remember the Internet never forgets!!! (Here’s how to create a social media editorial calendar.)
6. Develop relationships with peers
Take the time to meet and build connections on each social media platform before seeking followers and influencers. Like moving into a new neighborhood, you wouldn’t run out to visit the mayor first. You’d take the time to get to know your neighbors. The same is true of social media.
Before you start, realize that people may connect with different groups of family, friends and colleague on each social media platform. So don’t take it personally when they don’t respond to your invitation.
- Find your friends and colleagues. Connect with the people you know and like since you already have a relationship with them.
- Join groups of people with shared interests. Find the people excited about the same topics and things you are. It’s like getting to know other people in your school.
- Use tools to extend your reach. Where appropriate, reach out to people you don’t know in real life. Understand some people only connect with people they know personally. For example, I only connect with people I know on Facebook and LinkedIn (but you can follow my Facebook page here!!!)
7. Pay it forward
Social media requires a different mindset from other communications ecosystems. Social media is an egalitarian many-to-many communications channel. As a result, lots of people put information out at the same time. These messages are read and responded to by many people. As such, social media can be a great equalizer.
- Help others first. Have a “What can I do to help you” mindset. Orbit Media’s Andy Crestodina excels at this.
- Find the thought leaders with whom you want to interact. To connect with the influencers in your niche, discover them using tools or other methods. Before reaching out, follow them, read their stuff and share their stuff. Get on their radar by helping them.
- Participate in events. Participate in social media conversations. This includes shares, comments on shared content and events like Twitter chats and Google Hangouts.
8. Build connections with influencers and followers
After getting acclimated to social media, develop your community.
- Let current customers and followers know you’re active. When you join another social media network, put the word out so your followers can find you there. Let your audience know via every piece of owned media.
- Reach out to your niche’s influencers. Most influencers get tons of requests. Check their blogs and social media communications to see what they want, not what you need. You only have one chance to make a good first impression. (Here’s how to influence the influencers.)
- Get a social media buddy. Social media networks can be lonely. Find someone that you get along with and work together on social media.
9. Extend your relationships beyond social media
Take your social media relationships off of social media. (That’s what I did at #SMMW15 and here are 7 Social Media Lessons for you.)
Generally this translates to 1 of 2 activities.
- Invite your followers to join you on your owned media. Most marketers try to capture an email for future communications. This generally requires an exchange of content or other benefit.
- Meet people in real life. Depending on your relationships, brand and business, this can be in your retail establishment or at a public event. Don’t overlook getting together for a coffee or meal. Influencers like Peter Shankman put out tweets when they’re going to be somewhere and have time to get spend meeting folks.
10. Track results
As Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg wrote, Always Be Testing.
- Continually check what works and what doesn’t for building your social media community. Your goal should be to develop stronger ties with your followers, peers and influencers.
- Take your interactions to the next level. This depends on your business objectives. For many marketers, this means transforming followers into customers.
- Measure the results from your social media community building. The key question is: are you achieving your goals in a quantifiable way? (Here’s how to measure social media and here’s how marketers are actually tracking social media.)
As a marketer, you can never forget that your social media community consists of real people who have their own lives, dreams and needs. They aren’t tallies to be collected.
Your social media community must help people achieve their personal goals before they’re ready to even think about taking actions that will aid your objectives and business.
Start by appreciating that they are human and pay it forward.
What else would you suggest to help build a vibrant social media community and why? Do you have any evidence to support your recommendation?
P.S. Don’t forget to download your social media checklist!! (It’s free!)
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