One way to create a loyal and dedicated group of followers is to get your customers to form a community. Once this happens, these customers will buy all your latest products, share your content and protect your reputation on social media and across all discussion boards and forums.
In fact, a loyal community if your biggest brand asset which is much more valuable than an email list or leads.
Building a community is however not easy and building one that is engaged is even harder.
It takes time, dedication and creativity.
If you however approach this with the right intentions and mindset, you could turn the social media platforms into "customer hubs" where your customers get together and share the brand experiences.
Image from sproutsocial.com
In this article, we'll have a look at how you can build an engaged community on social media platforms.
Make It Easy for People to Communicate
Communities communicate - it's that simple.
There is no doubt that superstar celebrities who refuse to connect with their fans and interact lose out.
Communication is critically important to any social media success, and studies show that more than 56% of consumers are willing to stay loyal to brands where there is more human and ethical communication.
Your customers are looking for the easiest fastest way to get in touch with brands. In fact Sprout Social has found that 57% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow. Yet, an average customer won't wait for a response for more than 4 hours on social media and 30% of people will go to competitor if a brand doesn't respond.
If you aim at building a community, it is no longer possible to hide behind a static website. You need to focus on making your messages feel like they are proper human conversations.
If your followers are not aware that they're able to have a conversation with you, or if they simply don't know how, you don't have a community.
As communication forms the foundation of everything you do, you'll have to make it simple and easy for followers to talk to you.
You also need to be aware that how you communicate on different channels is different. The way you communicate on Twitter will elicit difference responses than when you try the same method on Facebook.
Set up a Social Media Inbox
A social media inbox is an aggregation platform that connects multiple social media channels in one place and allows to receive incoming social media messages in one shared dashboard.
Set up an effective social media inbox for your team to be everywhere at a time. It allows several brand identities to be managed by many team members ensuring 24/7 support.
The two most advanced platforms allowing you to create a social media inbox are:
- SproutSocial Smart Inbox (with it, you can also turn messages into tasks for other team members across departments to take care of)
- Agorapulse Social Inbox that prioritizes messages based on a variety of criteria including sentiment, previous communication, channel, etc. The platform also allows your team to assign social media messages to your employees.
Agorapulse aggregates social media messages from the 4 main platforms:
- Facebook, including posts to your page, comments, private messages and comments on your Facebook ads
- Instagram, including comments on your posts and ads (no support for Instagram DMs yet)
- Twitter including direct messages to and @brand mentions
- LinkedIn inclusing comments on your business posts and private messages
Utilize Facebook Groups
If you don't have a Facebook group yet, it's time to create one.
Facebook groups are great places where communities can gather. This will enable you to reach out to the whole community via live Q&A sessions, or any other type of content where you can ask the community if they have questions that you may be able to answer.
Engage with the community creating a relaxed (but serious) atmosphere that's fun and positive at the same time, and by responding to their comments. People should feel at home in this community.
When the group becomes bigger, hire moderators and community leaders that will help run the group. Also learn how to properly manage a Facebook group.
Utilize Facebook Messenger
It is predicted that Facebook Messenger will continue to grow in 2019 and beyond. Ensure there is a pinned post at the top of the timeline that lets new visitors know what your page or community is about and how best to contact you.
Also use Facebook Click-to-Messenger ads. When users click on these ads, it will open a chat box and they will be invited to chat with you via Messenger.
Another great idea is to create a smart Artificial-Intelligence-based messenger bot. It can help you keep the conversation going even while your team is away. Both Botsociety and Mobile Monkey makes the process of creating a chat bot very easy:
Engage with Twitter Communities
Twitter is a great way to generate business, but don't only use it for business reasons.
Using social listening, track the conversations your followers are participating in and get involved. Ask questions and chat to them, comment on popular Twitter threads and participate in Twitter chats. This will allow you to show them that you're interested in your customers.
Plus, Twitter listening and interacting helps understand your customers much better.
Remember that communities are not about products, it's about people.
Publish Instagram Stories
Another great place to have a real-time conversation with followers is through Instagram Stories. It is in fact one of the best places to show your human side and to build a community.
Instagram Stories can also be used to collect frequently asked questions about you, your brand and your products.
More opportunities for easy communication can be created by using question stickers to ask for feedback.
Question stickers are excellent tools that will allow your followers to speak up about what content they would like to see more of, and what they like and don't like about what you're doing.
Building engaged communities is not about shouting out loud, or trying to be sensational. That's short-term thinking at best.
You should never use social media to indulge in any self-promotion. People will in fact only engage with you if you are able to provide them with plenty of value.
Value begins and ends with solving problems. This means that to build a real sense of community among your followers, you'll have to be able to solve their problems and provide real solutions, every day, 24 hours a day.