Ever wonder why some organizations seem to have no problem at all building and engaging their online communities when your company spends a great deal of time working to get more fans, to no avail? Does it seem like no matter what you post, tumbleweeds blow across your page. Very few, if any “likes” or comments are happening, with the exception of the one super fan you can always count on (read: your mom) who “likes” everything you post (because she loves you).
You’re not alone. Many companies struggle to find the sweet spot in content creation. But if you listen closely, your audience is telling you what they want to hear. Deliver it, and you’ll see your online community start to take shape.
First understand what moves your audience
If you don’t have a deep understanding of who your audience is then you’ll have a difficult time figuring out what motivates them to act. Chances are you have a general idea of who your targets are, but it’s important to drill down to their demographic characteristics as well as their psychographics. Know what their passions are and where their pain is, and start conversations around these drivers.
For example, if you run a kids taxi service for moms, take the time to consider what this group values (friends and family), what their fears may be (a child getting hurt or being harmed), what types of things makes them happy (girls’ night out or alone time), what makes their lives easier (easy, fast, healthy meals that the whole family actually enjoys). The answers to these questions will give you an idea of what type of content to provide — insightful personal or professional growth articles, child safety tips, around-the-town event calendars, special promotions at area day spas, recipes. See how that works? You’re showing your audience that you “get” them and empathy goes a long way in gaining consumer loyalty.
Then make your content “share-alicous”
Once you’ve determined the kind of content that will appeal to your audience it’s important that you consider how short attention spans are in the world of social. You have mere seconds to catch your targets’ attention, so make it short and make it sweet. Think “sound bites”, bullet points, short lists, images, short video, slides, irresistible nuggets of truth, brilliant little informational take-aways. We like to call this kind of content, “share-alicious” — you can digest it quickly and easily and it’s too good not to pass along.
Consider all the information that came across your own social feeds today. Of that information, think about what you, in turn, shared with your friends or network. What made you share it? Was it helpful to you in some way and you knew others in your network would benefit from it as well? Was it funny? Was it cautionary? Was it informative? And don’t forget SEO here. Remember your keywords when creating content. The more people that see your content, the more you’re likely to have join in your community.
And remember to be a person, not a machine
Perhaps one of the most important elements in building an online community is to act like a human being and not a robot that spits out information and posts it. Engage your audience. Respond to comments in a way that’s natural and conversational. As a general rule, you don’t want to be offensive or inappropriate, but certainly showcase your brand’s personality — considering that of your audience — and share updates as if you’re talking with a friend. Give them something they can connect with.
Focus not on all the things that you’d like to say about your product or service, but on what your audience deeply cares about. Then, take your applicable industry knowledge and share it with them. They will come to value and regularly seek out your expertise. And don’t be afraid to take risks. Offer views that may go against the grain, but set you apart from your competition.
It must be said that these practices have to be anchored by overall goals and comprehensive strategy and planning in order to experience full benefits. And you will also need an execution team. The online community experts at the Zen Media Group can help. Contact us and we can get your community building started right away.