How To Build Community On Social Media
Building a community around your business is an act that has become of heavy importance in the past 10-15 years, due to the meteoric rise of social media, and now post-pandemic, it’s even more vital than ever if you want your business to thrive.
Why does your business need a community on social media?
Younger generations have different values to their seniors – they typically regard authenticity, inclusivity, representation, and community much more highly. Afterall, they have grown up with social media technologies and eCommerce whilst older generations have also adopted it, and as Cassandra Lam – CEO of The Cosmos – states, “an increasingly digital, modern lifestyle is creating a hunger for authentic and relatable interactions that connect us to others like us.”
Businesses that do exceptionally well on social media are the ones who implement community and customers at the core of their social strategy. Doing so builds connection and trust with your online audience. Successful companies usually have thousands of engaged, active and loyal followers on social media, who lap up their content like it is the best thing since sliced bread and enjoy everything they post. They have worked hard to build inclusivity and a community around their brand, and their audience continues to grow authentically and organically. This love and awareness of a brand that an online audience translates across into a lot of sales.
CEO of Sene, Ray Li, puts it aptly, “Today, brand-building is not primarily through one-way communication via advertising… the new way is co-creation, enabling customers to build your brand with you.”
But how do businesses do it? And how can you build a community online around your business to generate more custom?
Building an online community
1. Start conversations
The best way to build connection is to get talking! Comment and interact with customers and business’ content. Host Q&A’s to find out what your audience want, and to find out more about them! Use the interactive features available to you on social media such as polls and questions
2. Share user-generated content
Customer generated content is an amazing way to grow and expand your online community! Encourage user generated content and ensure you use it in your social media content plan to show that you appreciate your customers and are grateful for their support.
3. Work for a cause
Consider, what is your social impact? How are you benefiting others by what you do? How does your estate agency help people? How does your law firm improve lives?
You don’t have to necessarily involve a charity – just think about how your business serves others or in what way you give back to people (e.g. Fairtrade products, living wage, apprenticeship offerings) and celebrate this with your audiences on social media.
4. Add value and give something back
In today’s saturated social media world, social users are wanting to follow businesses, brands and people who give them something back. Consider how you are adding value to a user’s feed or their day. Are you educating, motivating, inspiring, advising, humouring, entertaining, or informing them? Just like your products and services, all of your content needs to benefit a social media audience in some way.
5. Use your platform for good
You don’t have to be a not-for-profit organisation or wholly philanthropic, but you do need to use your online platforms to spread some sort of helpful or positive message. You could share tips, advice, help, insights or messages that help your audience and other people in some way. There is no reason why any business, regardless of their vertical, can’t do this!
By collaborating with reputable like-minded or local companies to produce a product, offering or service that is unique and offers a multitude of benefits to your customer, you’re going to not only boost awareness of your business, but you’re going to increase your customer base and generate revenue.
Collaborating, rather than competing, could do your business a lot of good in terms of your business’ reputation and visibility.
7. Adopt a customer-centric approach
Many businesses who succeed and build a loyal fan base do so by embracing a people-focused approach rather than company orientated one when creating, managing and producing social media content.
Think about ways you can add value to potential customers online. If you’re a gym, you could share free workouts on video. If you’re a dentist, you could share tips for maintaining dental health.
Tailor your social media content so that it serves the customer rather than yourself. Instead of demanding users snap up your deals whilst stocks last, turn that message on its head by describing the value and quality of the products you currently have on discount.
8. Tell stories
Online audience’s bond with businesses when they are relatable, personable, and genuine. By sharing and telling stories of your business and clients (we have plenty of social media content and storytelling ideas for you) you are building connection with online users, making them much more likely to convert into paying customers.
9. Employee engagement
You need to practice what you preach and ensure your internal team fully understands your business values and ethos inside out. A good strategy is to devise a business branding guidebook, which details to employees who you are and what you are about. If you want positivity and community around your business online, then you need to make sure your employees are happy and engaged too. Another great strategy is to promote your employee’s stories and achievements online – positive, human interest stories help to generate community.
10. Have a clear brand personality, voice and tone
Businesses grow audiences that love them by establishing and expressing a clear, recognisable brand personality, voice and tone. Pick 5 adjectives which describe your business if it was a person. These are the attributes you want your audience to like and regard your business for.
So, for example, if you’re an adult education college, your personality as a company or institution could be encouraging, motivational, inspirational, welcoming and supportive. You would then need to convey this in the way you communicate with your audience on social media to build a community around your business that values you.
11. Go beyond social media
There is so much more to business community building than social media – ensure you embed the above strategies into your other marketing efforts, such as email marketing (offer tips and insights to subscribers via newsletter), advertisements (offer a motivational message), and your website (you might want to curate a customer-centric, helpful blog).
The trick is to offer a superior customer service that goes above and beyond the norm, whilst building a relationship with your online audiences in the same way you’d build a friendship with an IRL human.
To find out more about using social media for business effectively, read our 20 tips to give your online profiles a business boost.