Building a community is hard work. You start with an idea, a brand or profile, and you hope to end up with an active group of people happy to share ideas, questions and comments. It takes time, commitment, consistency, and motivation even when it seems like it is going nowhere.
For some brands, building a community on social media is quite simple. They already have a great product with millions of fans who love talking about it. The more that product does to enhance the lives of its buyers, the more happy they are to discuss and share it.
But what about the small businesses that want to build community. Those that are mom and pop shops or they only sell very particular items such as alpaca wool.
Why Build a Community in Social Media
Let’s first discuss why they might want to have a community around their products, brand or topic on a social media website.
For starters, a community is a great place to find opportunity.
One person who raises alpacas for example, can find another person who sells the wool at market. It’s much easier for one to pass the wool along to the other person, than to handle every part of the business themselves. They both make more money, and save time.
Community is where you find people who are excited about products. These are the people that tell others, the evangelists, so to speak, who make an immense impact on the business. The is the person who used alpaca wool for knitting and didn’t receive one complaint about how someone was allergic to wool.
She knows that wool sold in stores is treated and causes the allergic reactions and wants everyone to know they can use wool without having problems. Yes, it’s an obscure product, but she is passionate about it, and communities are great for finding passion.
Community is easy to sell to. Generally speaking a community of thousands of people interested in a product, are fairly easy to turn into sales of more product. These are the excited people, who can’t wait for alpaca wool season each year.
They have new items they want to make with it, presents to knit for family, etc. They love the feeling. They save money to be ready when something new comes out, they want to give you their money.
Community is where you get answers. When someone has a question about alpaca wool, where do you think they can easily turn to? Sure, many will Google it, but even Google will refer people to the community to get help.
Everyone in the community is passionate about wool, and they love helping others learn about it, so they are more than willing to answer questions.
Fostering a community is extremely beneficial to a business, as you can see above. Let’s talk about how to get your community started.
How to Build a Community in Social Media
Give yourself time– of course you want your community to start now, but if you don’t have community gathered anywhere to pull from, it is going to take time. You have to start with what you have.
Set up the community, invite people to join, engage those people (no matter how few there are), and work on getting bigger.
Invite people to Join– do you already have a newsletter? a loyal gathering of people who regularly visit your store? A local fanpage of people who seem to love your pizza?
These are all great places to start cultivating your own community. Invite them, tell them how great it is, make sure it is that great, and make sure it gives them something to stick around for.
Engage people who join– every person who comes to check out your community needs a reason to come back. On social media they will receive notifications about your community, so make sure what you post entices them.
As they respond by liking, commenting, retweeting, replying, and sharing, they are more likely to become long time members of the community.
Entertain them– this is where you need to be creative. You need to give them something that makes you stand out from everyone else.
For small local businesses you can hold events where your social media community is engaged offline, at your place of business. For online communities, you can provide a resource, or fun place to gather. Here are some examples:
- Use characters on your fanpage- Kiwi Crate is a prime example of this.
- Give something away- daily posts of tools of the day for online buisnesses at Social Media Fuze fanpage
- Weekly interviews of experts in your topic
- Weekly guest parties with participants your followers want to hear from
- Weekly chats on Twitter or Hangouts on Google+ with a loose topic every enjoys
- Ask me anything posts for your topic- allow fans to ask anything and give them the answer
- Do something for them – tell them about deals they can get in their area
Make them feel special– One secret to making your community successful is to make each and every member feel like they matter. Reach out to them. See what they need to get from your community and deliver that.
And again, it will take time. There may be times when you have no new followers for days, even over a week.
Your community can be the lifeblood of your business. It takes time to build it, but it is more than worth the effort. If you put a great deal into it, you will, no doubt, end up with a community of people who love your product and look forward to spending their time and money with you.