Social media has completely revolutionized the way we share information, learn and connect. Platforms that were initially conceived just as a form of entertainment have become virtual places where users share their opinions and experiences with other like-minded individuals. They have become community hubs.
Over the course of the past few years, social media communities have multiplied at an incredibly high speed. Facebook alone is currently hosting over 10 million groups with over 1.4 billion people joining at least one of them. That’s a pretty impressive number if you consider that Facebook is just one—although the most popular—of the online community hubs available for users around the world.
For marketers, social media communities represent a unique opportunity to collect valuable insights from their target audience that can help them improve their marketing strategies. And while there are plenty of ways to connect with potential customers through existing communities, the best way to extract real marketing value is to build and own one.
Why should a brand build an online community?
Create meaningful relationships
As more businesses jump on the social media wagon, breaking through the noise is becoming extremely challenging for brands in any industry. When successfully developed, online communities provide a direct line of communication with the audience, allowing brands to create and nurture meaningful customer relationships.
Collect valuable data
On top of that, social media communities represent a great opportunity for businesses from large B2C companies to niche B2B brands to collect valuable qualitative data that can be used both for marketing and product development or service enhancement purposes.
Improve organic social
Last but not least, there is a technical aspect to consider too. As social media platforms, in particular Facebook, strive to keep their audiences engaged, their algorithms tend to favor posts from groups. Publishing valuable content in communities allows brands to improve their organic reach and engagement rate without having to rely on paid media.
Tips to approach social media community building
Be where your audience is
Users tend to engage with social media in different ways. Boomers are more likely to join Facebook or LinkedIn groups, while Millennials and Gen Z tend to connect with one another over Instagram or TikTok. Understand where your potential or current customers spend their digital time and focus your community building efforts on those channels.
Understand the tools
Different social media platforms provide different tools for marketers to create and build a community. Facebook and LinkedIn are currently the most sophisticated channels when it comes to community building. They allow businesses to actively participate in the discussions, poll their audiences, track keywords and gather quantitative insights. Take your time to familiarize yourself with the tools that each platform has and learn how to get the most out of them.
Feed the audience
Your customers are constantly seeking new content to consume and discuss. This represents a great opportunity to keep your brand top-of-mind. While one of the most valuable aspects of an online community is that the audience is likely to start a conversation without any input, it is important to engage your followers with valuable content. Learn what type of content performs better on each channel, plan to post frequently and keep a healthy balance between educational and promotional content.
Monitor, moderate and analyze
Engaged communities are at their best when members feel free and incentivized to share their opinion. Keeping the conversations active by asking direct questions or soliciting feedback is a great way to keep your audience engaged. Once the conversation is ignited, it is important to keep monitoring and moderating it. Plan to dedicate some time (at least once a week) to scan through the discussions and don’t be afraid to interact with your audience. Think about your community as an ongoing focus group and identify ways to collect and analyze valuable insights that can help improve your products or your marketing strategies.
Turn insights into action
Once you get the gist of how to collect valuable insights from your community, it’s time to process and turn them into action. You might find out that your audience is more likely to react to video content than blog posts; or that they enjoy hearing other member stories versus reading industry stats. Make a list of all the frequently mentioned notes and turn them into actionable items.
Whether you are completely new to the world of social media or you already have some experience, you should be aware by now of the potential of online communities. If done right, they can significantly boost your brand awareness, create a direct line of communication between you and your audience and turn your loyal customers into your brand ambassadors.
Are you ready to start building you social media community? Contact our VP of Business Development Julia Parisot (firstname.lastname@example.org) today!