Create a Thriving Online Community
More than 22.7M Canadians manage a social media account. That’s 22.7M people wanting to connect and find purpose in their lives. It’s also 22.7M people with a favorite company, or who are invested in an innovative idea. How are you deemed worthy of their attention?
Online communities are potential powerhouses for your brand, allowing opportunities to tap into audiences and rally support. However, they demand fearless leaders succeed. How should you lead yours?
1. Tap Into Other Communities
Say hi to your neighbors. Leverage connections with similar social fan pages or LinkedIn groups to increase community awareness and boost your own engagement. Focus on not only sharing your own content but reacting to and sharing the content of these fellow pages. As your partners increase, your own group will grow more organically.
2. Promote Dialogue
The majority of your group members are lurkers. They’re there to glance at your posts, smile and continue on with their day. The few that hit “Like” do so based upon a split-second decision. The challenge is how to influence that decision in less than two seconds.
To increase participation, members want their interaction to matter. Their like, comment or share should impact their community. Too often business and community leaders prioritize generating content over engaging with their followers. Did someone comment on your Facebook post? Reply to them! Interaction is the quality of your online turf, while posts are the quantity. Ensure you’re promoting both.
For Instagram, offer giveaways. It could work for multiple platforms. Asking users to comment on a post or tag a friend is your chance to build an audience while promoting dialogue. Offering giveaways every few months represents a great fix to drive engagement.
Twitter is all about original content. Retweeting content from your neighbor is great, but adding a comment adds value to the conversation. The same can be done with retweeting your own tweets to give your top tweets a boost and reach a larger audience.
3. Understand Membership
According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of activity will arise from 20% of its members. The best leaders cater to their top 20%.
By knowing your top 20% by location, demographics, and statistics, you can invest in the fruitful activity. For example, if your top users tend to live in a certain town, celebrate their local holidays or shoot a photo at the local coffee shop. Depending upon their age, you can invest in your audience’s preferred social platform (Insta for Gen Z, Twitter for Millenials, Facebook for Boomers).
5. Find a Consistent Voice
Community members prefer to interact with people, and like people, your business will need a personality. Marketers usually do so by creating personas, but there are more ways to talk than words. According to Forbes, it boils down to knowing who you’re speaking to, what you’re saying and how you say it.
If you’re Wendy’s, you’ll get your message across with a picture of that jumbo juicy Baconator. If you’re a marketing agency, you might prefer statistics to demonstrate credibility. Does your audience enjoy infographics? Polls? Emojis? With any of them, learn your community’s language and start talking.
5. Remember the Real World
The ultimate opportunity to relate to others is by placing a face with a name. In Professor Richard Wiseman’s lost wallet study, 15% of wallets with no photos were returned, but a staggering 88% of wallets were returned when they contained a picture of a baby inside. People are programmed to look at other people, to ensure that you feature the faces of your online stomping ground.
Humanizing users stretches beyond profile headshots. Users want to see employees as people in actions such as talking, volunteering or manufacturing. Show your people doing what they do. Never shy away from your human side.
6. Make it Manageable
It’s impossible for a single person to run a community forever. Therefore, communities must define themselves to the point at which leadership transitions occur seamlessly. Record the strategy, mission and core values of your community so that it can eventually transfer to someone else.
It takes a village to build an energetic and flourishing online forum, and connecting purposefully happens more and more frequently. Go forth, unabashedly and fearlessly, and create a community that thrives.
By Bruce Fikowski