Every day, it gets harder and harder to stand out on social media. There’s added pressure to increase the number of followers you have as competitors find new ways (or have larger budgets) to increase their follower counts. At least we no longer have the added pressure of Like counts… Thank you, Facebook and Instagram, for removing the (public) like counts to help at least my sanity.
Having thousands of followers is great, but are you seeing results? Are these individuals engaging with your content, are they liking, commenting, clicking links, or even converting? Followers are becoming more of a “superficial” (for a lack of a better term) number. On Instagram, you could have AMAZING photos, great aesthetic, and 3,000 people following you, and have more impact (or influence) on your followers, than someone with 300,000 followers.
Building an online community is more important than increasing the number of followers you have. A strong community will have a stronger and longer impact on your company. It can increase sales, support your ROI, and help you reach new markets.
An online community can consist of prospective customers, current customers, and brand advocates who communicate with each other around one central topic -- YOU. It can be your company, your products, they could have similar interests to your company, or even believe in the same values. But at the end of the day, they are here for YOU.
Here are 6 things to consider when you’re building the strongest community to support your company and do more than just increase brand awareness.
1. Have a Social Media Strategy
Starting with a clearly defined social media strategy, will help align all aspects of your business and social media goals. Everything that’s posted on social media will be a reflection of your company’s core values and should align with your business goals. By having a clearly defined strategy will also help you to create content that is more authentic to your brand by giving you a clear direction on where you’re going, and also how you plan on getting there.
Consider where your audience is, who they are, and what they like to do. Build out personas that will help you clearly identify whether you should be in Facebook Groups, or use Twitter. Run ads or focus more on organic engagement to drive awareness.
2. Build a Content Calendar
Be proactive. Create content well in advance to make sure that you have content to schedule. This will allow you to not only to be more strategic, but also give you more time to engage your audience, which I will talk about a little later. Having content already in the queue ensures you don’t have to remember to post in the moment, unless that’s your company’s strategy.
Within your content calendar, make sure to include your evergreen content, as well as more generic pieces, old blog posts, and outline new campaigns. I find it’s easier, once you have all of the messaging around a campaign, to schedule in advance so that you can adjust your content along the way. This will give you more time to spend engaging in the important two-way conversations that are taking place on your accounts.
Make sure to ask yourself regularly, why are my followers here? What types of content are they most interested in, and why do they want to follow us? At the end of the day, you should be able to answer this – “WHY SHOULD I CARE?”. If you can answer that simple question from your audience's perspective every time you post on social media, you should start seeing some growth.
3. Have Someone Dedicated to Managing Your Social Media Presence
Social media doesn’t sleep, and neither do I some days. I have had many social media crises’ in my years managing client accounts. To properly manage a brand and build an active online community, it’s important to have someone dedicated to building content, engaging with customers, and to be the voice and “face” of your brand. I don’t mean the literal face of your brand, this person’s position is basically to make your profile image on all platforms talk. Look at Wendy’s or Moonpie on Twitter. This person will make your profile come alive and give your brand personality.
4. Engage, Engage, Engage
Number 4 is probably the most important. Yes, I know… I buried it within my blog post. It’s buried to ensure that all of you skim readers actually pay attention!
I can’t tell you enough. If you want to have a strong online community, YOU. HAVE. TO. ENGAGE. You cannot build an active community if you’re only publishing content. You need to be joining conversations where your target audience is. Are they most active on Instagram? Comment on their posts! Are they more active on Twitter? Talk directly to them. Do NOT just sit back and wait for them to come to you. Be proactive, join conversations with individuals that they also engage with. Share their content if it includes your brand to build the relationship.
Now for some of you, I may be just reiterating the same things you already know. But I can guarantee that only a few of you are actually doing this. If you want your customers to be actively engaging with your brand, you must also be active.
5. Be Flexible
If something isn’t working, change it. If the people you’re talking to aren’t engaging back, talk to someone else. Social media is free (with the exclusion of ads), and if something isn’t working, you can always mix it up.
Change the platforms you’re on, change the tone you’re using, or even add emojis to make the content more engaging. Or, do what I do and literally use GIFs for everything. Unless of course, this isn’t your strategy and you can’t use GIFs based on your industry.
6. Just Have Fun With It
I know this sounds cliché, but in all honesty, just have fun with it. If you’re having fun with your social, then your audience will notice. If you’re bored, and tired of posting on social media, your audience will notice. Even if you’re starting to be super scripted, your audience will notice. They notice everything. So just have fun. Try new things, add GIFs, emojis, engage, make jokes, poke fun at yourself and your team. At the end of the day, the brand with the most engaging content, most fun environment, always wins.
I hope this helps you take your social media to the next level. I want to see that you have taken your brand to the next level and crushed it by this time next year. If you want, tweet us your favourite GIF letting us know what you’ve learned and how you’re going to win on social 2020.
Want to learn more about social media usage in Alberta? Our amazing Data Insights team has put together this amazing dashboard that outlines social media usage in Alberta! Make sure you check it out.