How to Build a Social Media Community in 2023
Thursday 10th August
by Beth Perrin
How to Build a Social Media Community in 2023
Thursday 10th August 2023
Building and maintaining a social media community is no longer optional for brands and businesses in 2023 - it’s an essential activity that should be a priority within your digital marketing strategy and can yield great results in terms of sales, reputation, customer satisfaction and loyalty. In fact, a huge 90% of social media marketers say that building an active online community is crucial this year, which is why it’s vital to know how to get started and what steps you can take to make your brand’s online community a success.
What is Community Management?
Community Management refers to the process of interacting with your online audience - aka customers, guests, fans, clients and any other stakeholders of your business. These interactions include everything from customer service transactions to everyday conversations that build brand awareness and brand love. Although Community Management can be done anywhere on the Internet where you have a base of followers, the term is predominantly used in the context of social media, as this is where the majority of brand-audience communications take place nowadays. Community Management can either be done in-house by your social media team, or, if necessary due to time or resource constraints, outsourced to an external agency like 3sixfive. Get in touch if your business needs a helping hand!
Focus on Discoverability
The first thing you can do to start building your social media community is make sure your business is easy to find online. It’s going to be tricky to spread the word about your brand and welcome new audience members if nobody knows how to reach you - so it’s important to display all of your social icons prominently on your website, as well as in your employees’ email signatures and your brand’s Google business listing. You should also include them on your physical marketing materials such as business cards, posters, brochures, receipts and menus.
Whenever you join a new platform, don’t forget to add this to your list as well. This could even be accompanied by a direct incentive - for example, you could offer a small gift to the first 50 people to follow you on your new account.
Additionally, your team members can become advocates by endorsing and promoting your brand on social media, particularly on professional networking sites like LinkedIn, which will help to further boost your discoverability.
Appeal to the Right Demographic
Next, ensure that the tone of voice you use in your social media content and interactions is suitable for your brand’s desired audience. Otherwise, they’ll be less likely to take an interest in your page, meaning you won’t be able to start building a community.
Carry out some research into your target demographics and outline the characteristics that define their behaviour online - do they talk casually and use lots of chatty language, emojis and memes, or do they speak in a more formal manner and use industry-specific jargon? The way your brand presents itself on social media should reflect this style, and newcomers to your page should know straight away who you’re trying to appeal to. From here, they can quickly decide whether they want to be a part of your community or not.
Listen to Feedback
All of the best communities are built on two-way communication, so you should show your audience that you’re genuinely interested in hearing what they have to say by regularly requesting and acknowledging their feedback. In fact, 77% of consumers view brands more favourably if they seek out and apply customer feedback, proving how powerful it can be to ask for your followers’ opinions.
Many businesses make the mistake of using social media as a one-way street, talking at their audience instead of to or with them, and failing to give their followers a voice. Have you ever scrolled through a brand’s Facebook page and seen plenty of posts advertising their latest products and offers, but all of their customers are being ignored in the comments section? Understandably, this kind of approach puts people off, with 45% of consumers confirming that they will unfollow a brand on social media if it posts too much self-promotion. That’s why it’s essential to be receptive to your fans’ thoughts, ideas and feedback by paying attention to customer reviews and conducting routine sentiment analysis.
Chit Chat & General Conversations
Of course, handling serious enquiries, complaints and other customer service issues should be at the top of your list, but don’t forget to set aside some time to participate in fun conversations and lighthearted interactions with your community too. This can include:
• Responding to posts and comments you have been directly tagged in
• Using social listening to find posts where your brand has been mentioned, but not tagged
• Proactive engagement, which means starting conversations with users who haven’t actually tagged or mentioned your brand but have presented an opportunity for engagement nonetheless. This includes ‘trendjacking’ or ‘newsjacking’, which means taking advantage of a viral news story or pop culture moment to add your own comment that links the trend with your brand in some way (think of all the recent Barbie movie memes and how brands have made them their own!).
Additionally, you can leverage other brands’ audiences by joining conversations underneath your competitors’ posts. Of course, it’s important to tread carefully when doing this, as interacting with competitors can be risky territory - cheeky comments can be taken the wrong way and can spiral into controversies that may end up damaging your reputation. However, by staying true to your values, keeping things playful and not outwardly attacking other brands, engaging in a bit of friendly banter can be a fun way to introduce yourself to new audiences and gain new followers who have similar values and interests to your existing fanbase.
Share User Generated Content
One of the best ways to show your audience that you value them is to share UGC (user generated content) that they’ve tagged you in or sent to you. This could be a photo of them enjoying a meal at your restaurant, a video of them using your product, or a testimonial about their overall experience. Sharing UGC is beneficial to three different parties:
• Prospective customers, because they get to see what your product or service looks like in a real-life setting, which fosters authenticity and relatability. 84% of consumers agree that peer recommendations are more trustworthy than other sources of advertising!
• The person who uploaded the content, because they’ll feel like a valuable member of the community and will appreciate the opportunity to appear on your brand’s page.
• Your brand, because 79% of consumers say that UGC highly impacts their buying choices - meaning photos and videos from real customers make people more likely to convert.
You can read our complete guide to UGC on social media here.
That’s right - we couldn’t write an article about building a social media community in 2023 without mentioning Threads! In case you aren’t yet aware, Threads is Meta’s newest app, offering a Twitter-style platform for sharing brief text updates and joining conversations. If your brand already has an Instagram account, it’s super simple to get started - just sign up using your Instagram login details and follow the same people you do on Instagram.
Using new social media platforms as soon as they’re released is a great way to get ahead of your competitors, generate a buzz and show your audience that you’re on top of the latest trends, so if you haven’t given Threads a try yet, now is the perfect time. Of course, not every app is going to be a good fit for every brand, so if a new platform comes onto the scene and you find that it doesn’t achieve your desired results, don’t panic - it’s all about trying new things and seeing what works best in the context of your strategy.
Use Platforms’ Built-in Community Features
If you want to give your followers an even more close-knit way of interacting with your brand and with each other, or provide an exclusive, VIP space for your top fans, don’t forget that some social media platforms offer specific community features to help bring people together.
For example, Facebook Groups give page owners extra tools to build an engaged, relevant community amongst existing and potential customers. According to Facebook, Groups are: “hubs where valuable conversations flourish between brands and customers, and amongst customers themselves.” Groups also create a space for customers to celebrate their loyalty and become advocates for businesses. They can be either:
• Public: Anyone, on or off Facebook can see what members post, comment and share in the group.
• Private: Only current members can see what members post, comment and share in the group.
• Visible: Anyone can find the group in search and other places on Facebook.
• Hidden: Only members can find the group in search and other places on Facebook.
Similarly, X Communities (formerly Twitter Communities) are a dedicated place for users to connect, share and get closer to the discussions they care about most. Communities can be either:
• Open: Users can join by simply tapping the ‘Join’ button and agreeing to the Community’s rules.
• Ask to join + member invites: Users must submit a join request which is sent to a moderator to either deny or approve. Once they have been accepted, members can send invites to other people on X to join the Community.
• Ask to join only: Same as the above, but with the exception of the member-invite capability.
Posts submitted in Communities can be seen by anyone on X, but only others within the Community itself can engage and participate in the discussion.
While social media is of course a powerful tool for marketing, advertising and brand promotion, what matters most is building an engaged community where positivity, loyalty and trust can flourish. Brands that are going to come out on top in 2023 will be those who interact effectively with their online audiences, show their customers and fans that they have a voice, and make sure everyone feels welcome and valued within the community.
Whether your business is new to social media or is looking for ways to grow and enhance its existing community, we hope the tips we’ve shared today will help you appeal to the right people and form deeper connections with your current customers. Want to share your own community building suggestions? Find us on X @3sixfivepro and let us know what’s worked for you!
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