Building A Social Media Community

    Three people taking social media picture drinking beers

    Social media: everyone knows it, but understanding how to use it on your quest for success can be challenging. Here’s the unlock: it’s in the phrase itself…

    Be Social.

    If you are a business owner who is looking to increase your marketing efforts, you will inevitably need to create a robust online presence. As you do, you’ll be faced with two distinct challenges:

    1. The need to consistently create and post content on your social media
    2. Cultivate a loyal following to build your brand and connect with your customers.

    However, what we usually see is coined posting and ghosting.

    Posting and Ghosting.

    If you post content and don’t respond to comments and questions: you are committing a social media cardinal sin. Avoid this by talking to your audience when they talk to you!

    Think about it like this: you always say “hi” when someone walks into your store, right? Why wouldn’t you do the same in a digital space? Someone is taking the time out of their day to spend time with your business, so the least you can do is acknowledge their presence. When there’s an expectation of dialogue, people are more likely to leave a friendly comment or ask a question.

    To build a community is to find your “tribe”.

    You need to start by understanding what your customers look like, what their interests are, and how they like to communicate before you can effectively target your social media marketing efforts. Start by creating a buyer/customer persona using preferred demographic factors to help narrow down who you are speaking to. For example, if your audience is millennials living in major cities who listen to *insert Pitchfork-acclaimed artist here*, you might be marketing an irreverent sparkling water brand through custom can art. Knowing who your customers are helps inform your creative strategy– which includes your graphics, copy, and more.

    Start showing up where your customers hang out.

    Another factor of online community building is showing up in places where your customers are most likely to hang out. Is there a subreddit dedicated to your industry? Drop some knowledge. Facebook groups with your target demo? Request to join. My advice: join these groups as an individual, not as your business. People aren’t dumb. If you’re simply joining a group to talk at its members – not with them – you’ll be sniffed out as a form of “spammer” like a police dog looking for contraband.

    People are more likely to relate to other people. Give your business some personality and make it more relatable. In the case of the language education app Duolingo, this looks like an anthropomorphic green owl.

    @duolingo not me waking up every morning practicing for my queen #Duolingo #comedy #trend #DuaLipa #DulaPeep #fyp #snack ♬ Snack – Alucard Everlasting

    Oh, and another thing, never, never, EVER be spammy. It’s one surefire way to get kicked out of a Facebook group or other online community. A lot of groups have rules against spam, so be respectful of that. You don’t want to violate the trust of anyone, let alone potential customers. As I mentioned before, the key to unlocking success on social media is being social. Join groups that you can participate in, not just share your Saturday specials or promote your products. Every group has a purpose. Each purpose brings together individuals around a singular topic for which they are all linked. So, if you join the Facebook Group, Hudson Valley Foodies, you can expect that most of the people within the group love good food and live in the Hudson Valley. Share your interests as they relate to the group topic – not as the topic relates to you.

    Let’s summarize what we’ve learned today.

    1. There are no perks to being a social media wallflower. Get in there and talk to your audience!
    2. Know your audience. You can’t speak to everyone. Define your tribe and connect with them.
    3. Participate in relevant forums with shared interests around your products or industry.
    4. Save the SPAM® for your plate. Pushing your content down the throat of your audience isn’t going to get them to choose you.

    It’s time for you to put “social” back in social media!

    Author Details

    Zach H

    Hudson Valley native, hip-hop nerd, Mets and Knicks fan, sneaker enthusiast, social media specialist. Channeling creative energy through content for local small businesses.