Having customers that buy your products is one thing, but having a loyal community that trusts and supports your brand… that’s just special!
An online community consists of people that engage with your content most frequently and are firm believers in your brand and products. It’s like your loyal group of friends. But just like any friendship, both sides need to put in some time and effort to keep the relationship going.
What should you do before building your online community?
Before anything else, make sure you have optimised all of your online channels accordingly. Your audience should be able to find and reach out to you easily. Social media channels offer multiple buttons, plug-ins and chat options you can use to help you communicate with your audience.
After that, it’s time to create relevant, attractive content and share it with your followers. For this, you have to do some proper research into your audience and find out what their interests, likes and dislikes are. Find your niche and try putting yourself in their shoes: what type of content would you be interested in if you were ‘John’, your ideal customer?
When it comes to creating content, make sure you have a plan in place and ensure that you follow your brand’s guidelines: colours, fonts, tone of voice, etc. Be consistent and have fun with it!
Make your posts and stories fun! There are so many in-app tools you can use nowadays that will help you create great content that your audience can engage with. You can do polls, of course, but if you’re not sure what to ask, just make sure to share posts that will be useful to your public and they might want to share with others.
Make friends and communicate
Start looking for people in your niche and engage with them. Follow a few people, like their posts, comment, retweet, share. Do what you’d like people to do for you. It’s one of the best ways to get noticed and expand your reach. Plus, social media channels will recognise you as an active member and will possibly boost your content into the explore page of people that are similar to the ones you are engaging with.
Go the extra mile and try keeping in touch with your followers. Having a conversation with the people in your audience will make them see that you are interested in building connections and creating bonds. Plus, the algorithms behind social media channels will see that you and the people in your audience are actually ‘friends’ and will consider your profile more authentic.
Create custom groups for your community to make them feel more engaged. Be careful though, don’t just make the group and leave them hanging! Only do this when you are ready to provide valuable content that can spark conversations and be sure to keep them entertained.
Get help from outside resources
A great way to reach more people, especially when you are just at the beginning of your online journey, is to invest in paid marketing campaigns. If done right, you will not spend too much money and will be surprised by how fast your post will get across thousands of people.
When done wrong, you will put your time and money into sponsoring ads that simply don’t convert. On average, only 4.4% of clicks on Google Ads lead to conversions. Make sure your campaigns are well-tailored and ready to make a difference for your business.
Reach out to influencers in your domain. They are the perfect way to get reach more people, as they already have a built-in community that listens to them and trusts them. If you think they match with your domain, values, and the messages you are trying to send, don’t miss the opportunity to leverage their voice. Reach out to them and find out how you can start a collaboration.
Organise a giveaway every now and then. This is a great way to give back to your community, and to expand it even more! People love getting free gifts, so they love giveaways! Choose an attractive prize and try not to impose too many rules. A simple follow and mention a friend to register will do.
No, we don’t mean you should start sharing your day-to-day activities on social media. Unless this is what your niche is all about, of course.
After you’ve built a community, it’s important to keep it engaged and interested. Communicate frequently and get a little personal. Storytelling is a great way to build trust and spark emotion from your audience. Talk about your brand, how you started it and what you have learnt and don’t be afraid to share your tips. People will appreciate you for it.
Another great thing you can do to get closer to your audience is to ask for feedback. This way, you can get insights on what you are doing right, what you might be doing wrong and where you need to improve. Plus, the people in your community will feel like their voices are heard and will like you even more for it.
Be transparent. Share data and relevant insights from your activity. This will automatically have you seen as an expert in your domain and will make people trust you even more for your transparency and openness. Don’t be afraid to share your mistakes, as long as you learn from them. They will be great lessons for both you and your community!
How to leverage your community
Once you’ve gotten your faithful community online, don’t think that your job is done. Just like a group of friends, your online family needs your constant attention and support. Keep on creating relevant content for them and spend time making sure they are happy.
Now it should be easier than you think! Why is that? Because you can start implementing User Generated Content. This is content that is created and shared by members in your community with the scope of promoting your products/services. There are a few ways you can inspire your community to do this. The most common is through competitions or challenges. Give something away to those who participate in your challenge. You can create a custom hashtag they should be using so it’s easier for you and for other people to find and track these posts.
And the most important step of all?
Have patience and faith. As you can see, there is no exact rule that will bring you success in social media marketing. It’s rather a combination of all the practices you can think of, put together and working in constant motion.
It’s not an easy job, but you might fall in love with the process, as you will encounter people in your community who will appreciate your content and support you faithfully. When you find those people, just know you did it!