How to Build a Loyal Online Community Using Social Media
What Is a Community?
A community is a group of people with a shared interest, value, belief, or goal. This interest, belief, value, or goal, is represented by your brand. Your community is those interested in your brand, products, and services. You add value to them and they add value to you.
In his book, Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, Seth Godin describes a community as a tribe:
“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”
Build a community around your brand and shared interest, and communicate with that community through social media. Nurture your tribe to form deep relationships and build a loyal following. To do this, communicate with influencers, customers and prospects, and they will interact with you. Engage in conversations on a personal level, contribute valuable content, be a resource to customers, and form a conversation around your brand. A community is about forming valuable, credible, authentic relationships that will benefit your business in multiple ways.
Building a Community
To begin building a community, you firstly need to identify why a group of people would want to form a community around your brand. What is your USP and mission statement? What is your philosophy? What value can you provide? What common goal do you share? Focus your community around this niche topic and philosophy because appealing to everyone is appealing to no one.
Integrate these ideas into your social media strategy and communicate them through social media. Establish your brand voice and share content related to these shared ideas and topics. Don’t just talk about your brand or advertise your products, but talk about the topic, philosophy, and values – this is what people connect with – what you stand for as a brand and your brand values.
Ensure your tone is genuine, relevant and authentic. Talk to others in the community, contribute to other blogs, and join the conversation, but make sure your efforts are natural and organic and not purely with the aim to sell. Most importantly, be human.
Build your community on social media through following users with similar interests, liking others’ posts, commenting, retweeting, sharing valuable and relevant content that solves people’s problems, offering incentives for people to follow your brand, asking customers to share posts, and optimising your profiles to make it easy for others to connect with you. Use relevant hashtags to find those talking about similar topics and build trust by getting involved in the conversation.
When you are building your community, it is important to remember that forming deeper and stronger connections with a smaller tribe of engaged loyal supporters is much more valuable than a large group who are not dedicated to your cause. Focus on developing long-term relationships with existing customers who make multiple transactions and become loyal followers of your brand.
Engaging With Your Community
A community is different to an audience because it encourages two-way communication to increase engagement with your brand. Share others’ content as well as your own and offer customer support by responding to mentions of your brand and answering questions and comments. Use social engagement to nurture and grow prospects into customers and always be adding more value. Engaging with others will encourage further engagement with your brand.
Word of mouth through mentions of your brand is a fantastic way to build trust and expand reach. Customers can be some of the best brand advocates and word-of-mouth promotion is one of the most powerful marketing strategies. Who better to spread the word about your brand than your fans? Your brand advocates are those who promote your brand for you by sharing, commenting, and liking your posts. Show appreciation to your advocates by saying thanks and reward loyal followers to let them know they are valued members.
Ask influencers to spread the word about your brand and reach out to their audience to increase visibility and reach. Research influencers and develop a relationship by contributing to the conversation. Contribute to each other’s community, grow your fan base, and reap the benefits of sharing.
What’s more, you can listen to your social community to gain feedback into your offerings and discover what they like and dislike. Sending out questionnaires and polls is a great way to gauge feelings towards your brand and any new ideas you may have. You can also use your community as testimonials to back up the benefits of your product or service. You can use user-generated content to showcase your products. Stay connected and talk to and learn from your community.
Measuring the ROI of Your Community
To make sure you’re getting the most from your community, calculate ROI by tracking analytics to gain insights and optimise what isn’t working. It is important to measure the quality of your community, so remember that engagement is more important than followers. A higher engagement with more interactions, comments, discussions, likes, and mentions will provide you with a greater ROI as an engaged and loyal audience is more likely to purchase from you over a long time, in contrast to a large undedicated audience that does not engage or make any purchases.
How do these measurements map to your overall goals? Tracking and measuring will enable you to see what is working and what isn’t. Which posts are most engaging and at what times? Analyse your audience and tweak your strategy to gain more engagement.
Get More From Social With Your Community
Building a community is all about interacting and engaging with those that share your brand values. It involves utilising social media and taking it to the next level after simply posting content online. It’s about getting involved with conversations and communicating with others over shared interests. It’s human instinct to want to belong to a community, and social media gives you a wealth of customers, brand advocates, prospects, and like-minded people just waiting to form a tribe around your brand and help you hit your business goals.