Why You Absolutely Must Build an Online Community for Your Business – Part 2
What You Need To Build A Good Community
To build a good community, you need to start with the right components.
First of all, you need good content. This is absolute key. You can’t have a community built around something insubstantial – it just doesn’t work. So what do we mean by having good content? Well, good content could be blogs, articles on your website, bios, videos, infographics, you name it. However, the point is, it needs to be good.
The reason why it is so essential is because it demonstrates that you know what you are talking about (never underestimate how important that is to community building), you are passionate about the subject and you care about the readers. It also shows that you can be fun, your stuff is worth coming back for and whatever your recommend will be worth checking out.
For example, if you own a company that sells skateboards, good content could be a video showing how to maintain and care for your skateboard after each ride or it could be a blog post about Nyjah Huston or any other skateboarding champions. You get the idea. The only real limit for what qualifies as good content is your own imagination and what you think your community would like.
It is quite possible that you already produce this kind of content, but you might not be using it to its full potential if you are not sharing it to a wider audience on social networks.
You can easily get your information out there by posting on Facebook, Twitter and others such as Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Tumblr. Remember that you don’t need to be on all of them, just the ones that work best for your particular business.
Another tool for community building is good old-fashioned email newsletters. Contrary to popular belief, the email newsletter is far from dead. If people have signed up for your email newsletter, there is a high chance that they’re so interested in your products and services that it would be criminal not to offer them the chance to buy something.
The key to success in email newsletters is managing your list. Rather than sending out blanket emails to your entire list, you need to segment it, so that you are sending out the right message to the right parts of your community. Never forget that while some people don’t like or participate in social media, it is very rare for them not to check their email.
Once you have decided to get your community off the ground, you first need to identify the types of audience you want to attract.
Think of them as divided into different categories and work out what each type wants and what problems you can solve for them. Keep asking yourself the question: what do they really care about?
Next, identify your completion. This will help you to find where your target audience are already. Remember though that it is not about chasing numbers. You want a highly targeted group of people who will get together as a cohesive unit, not a generic mass that be larger but is too difficult to identify.
Now it is time to come up with a strategy for you or your team to follow. You need to decide how you are going to define success in building your community. For example, is it to get 10,000 Facebook likes or 2000 Twitter followers? You decide what your goals are, then agree to short-term, medium term and long-term goals, and then decide on the tools and strategy you are going to use to get there.
Once you’re doing the work of building a community, remember to be flexible. When you start producing (or outsourcing) great content, and getting it out there on social media channels, you might find that the community doesn’t go in quite the direction you expected. Your most popular posts might not be what you thought they would be, for example.
At this point, you might need to re-evaluate your plan or equally, you might need to stop being distracted by things that aren’t core to your business, despite being popular, and get back on track. It is all too easy to get distracted or lose direction on social media.
Slowly, Slowly Catchy Monkey.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that you need lots of patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your community won’t be either. Just like Rome, building your community never ends. Your job is never done. Don’t think of community building as a job to be done and ticked off a to-do list. Instead, think of it as a journey with no final destination.
If that sounds like too much commitment, bear in mind that there is help available. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
Companies like ours exist to assist busy business owners just like you to run successful social media campaigns as well as all other online marketing activities.
Tips For Building Your Community
- Try to adopt the 80/20 rule – 20% of your activity should be promoting your products and services, while the other 80% is sharing engaging and informative content.
- It is not enough just to post – you need to engage your readers. Read what people comment and write, engage them in conversation and start making friends. It will only be good for your business.
- Identify key people you want to engage with and start replying to them, comment on their posts and keep at it. Be genuinely interested in them and eventually you will bring them into your community.
- Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t get discouraged and give up if your initial attempts at engaging with key figures don’t work out. Keep at it.
- Make building your community part of your daily routine and get your whole team involved. Make it part of their routine too. To keep up the momentum, you need to have regular contributions. Don’t let the content dry up.
- Start each day with a bit of reading – use a news feeder (Feedly for example) to review your list of influential blogs, and when you find something goo, share it with your community. Remember to use the correct ‘voice’ for the social network you’re sharing on (professional for LinkedIn, short and snappy for Twitter etc.)