Establishing a sense of community with social networking seems simple enough: create a page, find fans, and post content. If you really want to drive traffic and maintain interest, you need more than good bones.
So what do you need to build a successful online community?
- An outline and list of great topics
- Regularly scheduled posts
- Interactions with fans
- Perceived success of page
1. Drafting an Outline
As with most other business endeavors, crafting a proposal or outline is advantageous for organization. It’s best to include a calendar in this plan; you need to be serious about scheduling and keeping current with updates. Many bloggers develop a list of topics before they begin writing posts. This idea can be carried to other social media as a helpful tool.
2. Routine Posting
While what you post is certainly important, when you post is more significant. In order to keep up with the community, you should always plan and schedule posts accordingly. If your business is running a special, it’s important that the campaign works with the marketing team. However, social media communities do not welcome in-your-face advertising; page managers must be savvy and consistently foster the community so that promotions seem like welcome suggestions rather than intrusions.
Although it seems overwhelming, managing your online community is really very simple. There are many tools, such as HootSuite, which allow for easy scheduling across multiple social media platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Syncing your blog posts with social media updates can be very helpful to drive traffic, encourage discussion, and improve customer appreciation.
3. Engaging the Fans
A healthy online community interacts with its users and keeps people engaged by tuning into their interests, but not all interaction is created equal. When it comes to Facebook, some activity is significantly less likely to maintain a community atmosphere.
It’s imperative that you encourage users to participate through discussions, blog posts, and comments. This allows the customer or client to interact with the company on a more personal level. It also allows customers to network with other people using the specific good or service. The page manager is responsible for fostering this online community by ensuring speedy responses to fans.
On Facebook, there are many features that gauge responses to posts; however, the best activity occurs when fans maintain dialogue with the company. Polls and likes are fun, but users often respond to these absentmindedly. These features aren’t useless – adding small surveys and little posts or pictures can be helpful in between large discussions to maintain a presence.
4. Maintaining Your Image
Often overlooked by page managers are posts that have little to no response. These should be removed from the page. Social media buys into the user’s personal branding. Very few people choose to be associated with things that are not popular; therefore the appearance of success makes brands more attractive to social media users.
If you follow this recipe for page management, you will certainly see an increase in fan participation. Fans want to be recognized and appreciated for the time they spend interacting with your company. Happy customers leads to greater profit, so use social media to increase the margins.