Communities are a key part of any business. Whether you’re running a social media agency or in-house marketing department, building online communities is a must. These are groups of people who share interests, activities, and perspectives with you, and you with them. They can be incredibly valuable to a business. Just look at how much more effective internal marketing and social media can be when used in conjunction with each other.
While you may want to consider every aspect of your community, especially when you first get started, you only need to focus on a few key areas to make the most out of it. These include:
Strategy, Planning, and Calendars
The first and most important step to managing your online community is deciding what you want to focus on. This is easier said than done, of course. You want to make sure that you are investing your time and energy into areas that bring you benefits, but you don’t want to overextend yourself either. Finding this balance is key to successfully running a community.
To begin with, you’ll want to lay down a solid strategy. This should include everything from what kinds of content you’ll produce to who you’ll target, and more. It’s important to have a plan before you start producing content. Without one, you’ll be tempted to just throw out ideas and see what happens. But if you did that, you’d have no idea if what you were doing was actually effective or not. By having a plan, you can more easily determine if what you’re doing is working or not. Of course, this also means you’ll have to be flexible enough to change your plan when needed. But at least you’ll know in advance that you’re making the right decision.
Once you have your strategy in place, you can move on to the next step and begin planning. This entails taking into consideration everything you’ve laid out, as well as what’s happening elsewhere, whether in your industry or in other industries, globally. One of the most important things you can do is to establish benchmarks and key performance indicators. For example, if you’re looking at a metric such as engagement, you can decide, based on your benchmark, whether or not you’ve reached an objective level of engagement. From there, you can determine what’s next.
People and Platforms
The next step is to look at the kinds of people you’re attracting to your community. The demographics, psychographics, and digital behavior of your ideal audience determines the content and functionality of your community. You’ll also want to think about what kinds of platforms you’re using, and whether or not these are platforms that match the behavior and preferences of your audience. For example, if you’re trying to attract teens to your community, you might want to consider using YouTube or Instagram for your content, rather than a forum or blog post.
Once you have your strategy, plan, and calendar in place, you can set about building your community. The first step is to establish your community’s identity. This is more than just a pretty face. It’s critical that you find a way to represent your community that will make its members feel like they’ve found a home. To do this, you need to think about what you already know about your community’s demographics, psychographics, and digital behavior. This will help you find the right content, strategies, and platforms to support and grow your community. It’s also crucial to connect with as many people within your community as possible, whether they’re existing or potential members. Doing this through social media is easier said than done, but it’s all about using the right tools and platforms to find your community, engage with them, and keep them engaged.
Building and growing your community is a long-term process. It takes time, effort, and a bit of luck. But it’s also incredibly worth it.