This was originally posted on Likeable Media's blog.
There is a lot of information out in the social media world that teaches you how to engage with your community, how to activate your community, and even how to appreciate your community. While this is all extremely valuable information, it seems to be skipping a step when thinking about your social community. Before you begin response guidelines and brand ambassador programs you need to foster and grow a community.
There is no one fool-proof way to get your fan count from 20 likes to 20,000,000. However, there are best practices you can employ that will help build your community with the right kind of people for your brand. Quality almost always trumps quantity but if you have great content, and nobody is there to read it, was it really even posted?? (think about it.) Here are 6 ways to grow your social community:
1. Tap into your resources. Chances are you already have some current customers. You may even have email lists and contacts. This is where you start! The people who are buying your product and reading your newsletter already like you, so why not ask them to "like" you. There is no need to RE-market to people who have already expressed interest in your brand.
2. Give people incentives. Why should anyone new come to your community? What are you offering that will make them want to go out of their way to click on you? Maybe you're offering a discount or a free sample or even a chance to win a prize. The point is that you need to give people incentives to come to your social community. Attract new community members with things your community will like!
3. Post great content. When people get to your social community, they will have little to judge you on. The one thing that will stick out to them the most will be your content. If you have engaging content, people will share it and will have a reason to come back. Without that reason, their one time visit will be just that... a one time visit.
4. Post consistently. You can’t build a community if the page is the same every time people visit it. Your content may be good but if it doesn't change, people have no reason to come back. The key takeaway is that great posts are fine but you also have to post often.
5. Link to your community. People have to find you somehow! Sure, some people will find you through direct search but others will find you from links. Have a link on your company website, in your email signature, on your other social communities, etc. Cross promote your communities!
6. Use advertising. I know you were hoping to find some magical answers to grow your community without spending a dime but let's be real. You want to grow a community and increase brand awareness? You need ads to guarantee results. Try not to run ads that just link to your website. If you want to build your social community, link to your Facebook page and let users "like" your page right on the ad!
Having a large community is great but you must keep in mind the real reason you want to grow your community. Managing a community is all about forming relationships, providing value, engaging with customers, and eventually obtaining new customers. Don't forget the real reasons behind growing a community and always act with your overall business objectives in mind.
How do you grow your community? Share in the comments below!
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