Does attracting a crowd of new customers to your business have a place in your social media marketing strategy?
Would building a community filled with people who are passionate about what you do and can’t wait to hear more about it be of any value to you?
If you said "Yes!" then this article is for you.
Whether you already have a booming business or you're still mulling over a business idea, one of the prerequisites to lasting success is building a base of loyal customers and fans.
Some will even become evangelists.
I've found there are 8 ingredients essential to building that passionate community, and I'm going to share those with you -- right here and right now.
One note: People don't live online (although it can sometimes seem that way). People live in buildings and shop in stores. They drive cars and go to the gym. Your "social media community" goes wherever your people go. One word-of-mouth mention offline can act like a firecracker to stir up your community online. That's why these tips are interchangeable. They aren't just good "social media business practices." They are good business practices online and off.
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8 Tips to Build a Passionate Social Media Community
1. Admit your mistakes and keep moving forward
It's standard issue, solid advice: People do business with those they know, like and trust.
One of the key ways to build trust in your business is to admit your mistakes. Your business doesn't need to be 100% perfect, but you do need to be open and honest -- even transparent.
People who admit their faults and move forward build up a higher level of trust. Those who try to mask the situation or avoid confronting problems destroy trust.
It's that simple.
When you show the human side of your business, you endear yourself to your social media community.
2. Keep communication lines wide open
There are few things more annoying then dialing a number and being put on hold.
Am I right?
Build a personal communications plan that will enable you to stay engaged with your community. You don't need to be the center of the conversation, but your community members need to know you are there and that you CARE.
Ongoing, reliable communication is vital in helping you build and maintain long-term relationships. If I try to speak with you, but constantly get the 'cold shoulder,' I will eventually give up trying.
Customers and clients who can't reach you will turn to someone more available.
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3. Lead with your passion
Lead your social media community by connecting them with your passion and ideas.
Letting your community in on your plans for the future is a great way for your business to include your community in the process and help build trust.
Don't you love it when someone asks your opinion and truly listens to your response? Do the same for your community.
Sure your brand and logo are important -- but what really connects people to you are shared beliefs and ideas. Talking openly about what you're thinking and where you want to head will help unite your followers and grow a stronger, more passionate community.
4. Tell your story and help others connect it to their own
Storytelling offers your business a great opportunity to emotionally connect with your audience.
What makes your business unique? Why should someone choose your product or service? What's so special about you? And what's the STORY behind that?
A great example of story power is Coolest. The party-centric cooler launched from a Kickstarter campaign with a $50,000 goal.
By connecting their community to their story and showcasing the many practical benefits the product could bring -- the campaign went viral. To date, the project has built a community of over 62,600 members and has raked in over $13M.
So what are you waiting for... what’s your business story?
5. Make your business easy to find and simple to join
To help grow your social media community and spread the word about your business, make it easy for your customers to connect.
Tactics like these can help make sure you are found and accessible:
- Place social sharing icons on your website
- Insert your website URL on your social media channel descriptions
- Include your website URL and contact info on your business cards
- Join social media groups in your niche and enter the conversation
- Track mentions and associated hashtags to identify who is talking about you and your work
- Make sure your business can respond to social mentions and inquiries FAST
- Give email responses a personal touch -- don't automate your service help desk
6. Don't begin unless you are willing to commit to the work
Building a passionate social media community for your business is like building a marriage: Consistent commitment is required to ensure the relationship survives and thrives.
Don't start a social media community if you don't plan to remain consistently devoted to it.
Don't "kiss and run." Kiss and hug and help.
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7. Focus on solving problems for your people
If you want bigger results for your business, then look to solve a bigger problem for your customers.
With so many other businesses out there offering the same or similar services, you have to make sure you stand out. A great way to achieve this and build the trust of your community (without spending a fortune on advertising to get noticed) is to help people solve problems.
Content containers for solving problems include blog posts, instructional videos, how-to guides, and showcasing practical examples from your customers. Invite your community to join in and give examples their own. When you make a video, it's an advertisement. When your customer makes the video... it's a gold strike.
One of the surest ways to build loyalty is to be of real value -- and theirs no better way to do that than to solve problems for (and in) your community.
8. Make customer service a way of life
Focus on delivering great customer service and watch your business grow in the process.
Any business can romance a customer into the sale -- but it's what happens after the sale that separates the wheat and the chaff.
The better service you can deliver to your customers, the more you build trust and loyalty. Pleased and confident customers will tell others and drive word-of-mouth business for you. Unhappy customers will do the same (but in the wrong direction).
It's not true that "All publicity is good publicity."
Pleased customers open the doors to more customers. Unhappy customers slam those doors shut.
8 Tips to Build a Passionate Social Media Community -- Conclusion
The more personable and human you can be with your customers, the better reaction you'll get and the more they'll flock to you. Computers are excellent tools, but most people would rather talk with another person about their business goals and gaps than get auto-responses from a computer (even if that advice comes straight from their good friend Siri).
These 8 tips are fundamental -- that's for sure -- but "fundamental" doesn't mean "outdated." The longer a principle remains, the more you can trust its accuracy.
Don't write these tips off as too basic. Rather, I encourage you to check your present community-building efforts against them and implement necessary changes to fit your social media marketing strategy to the demands of today's savvy consumers.
Get real and get honest -- even when the meeting place is virtual.
What community-building tips do you have? Share them with Post Planner enthusiasts... the Comments light is on.