Social media

How to cultivate community online

BY Melissa Cottle

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Social media platforms are an advertisers dream. Costs are low, attention keeps increasing, targeting exactly who you want to is borderline creepy efficient and testing a variety of messaging is easy. But let's not forget the secret sauce that makes social media so appealing for any business – the ability to cultivate community.

Humans are social beings by nature and social media platforms give us the ability to be social at scale. Yes – there are many pitfalls and downsides to engaging through a device 24/7 – but that's not what this post is about. This post is about tactics you can use to create a vibrant, engaged community online. There are the obvious things like “make sure you are easy to find online” and “put your social media handles on your business cards” but let's flex our creative muscles a little more:

  1. Share your community's content – more often than you think

This not only takes the pressure off your content creators – which is often you at the start of your brand's journey – but it also encourages your followers to post about your product/brand/service more because they feel their odds of being reposted by you are higher. By digging through your follower's content, you'll learn more about how customers feel and interact with your offering.

2. Turn community questions into content

Answering every question sent through within an hour is a major time suck. Instead, make a plan to check for frequently asked questions every week or two and answer them creatively, eg. Through a Facebook live, on an Instagram story, in a dedicated blog post or simply screenshot the interaction and post it.

3. And ask more back

After all, social media is a two way street. This not only starts a conversation but becomes a gold mine for gleaning customer insights that you can save and use for later in NPD, campaign planning, FAQ… the list goes on. Ask questions through competitions, Instagram polls and even through relevant news stories.

4. Tell your story again and again

If you are using social media well, you'll have new followers daily. Keep in mind they may not know your brand's story, so make sure you retell it. Have about 4 macro stories which connect to your niche and tell these macro stories about twice a month.

5. Give your community the best content for free

If you had the chance to pitch to your niche in person, I bet you would tell them everything you could about your brand. So why would social media be any different? Treat your online community this way and give them the best content, advice and support you can without any expectations. This builds trusts and creates a hub of information and entertainment for your followers to freely engage with.

6. Create a private Facebook group

If you have VIPs, create a private group just for them on Facebook. Think of this group as an extension of your team or a focus group on-demand. In this group, you can test content, go in-depth on certain topics, learn more about your audience and provide a space for your community to meet one another online.

Have your tried any of these tactics on your social media platforms? Or have any other ones to share? Let the #bossbabe community know in the comments below!

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