Having a popular social media presence is important, but many companies and organizations are now taking it a step further by also fostering loyal and active online communities within Facebook and Twitter.
These online communities are passionate about a certain brand, product, cause, or industry and, when companies foster this passion by sponsoring an online community, it can continue to flourish.
Find And Foster Existing Communities
To find existing online communities that have an affinity with your brand or product, look to see where they have already been created. For instance, take the extremely popular book series by E.L. James, Fifty Shades of Grey.
A fan loved the series enough to create a fan community page about it on Facebook, and it now has almost 8,000 likes. But the intriguing part of this page isn’t how many fans it has (especially since many brands’ Facebook pages have hundreds of thousands of likes), it is their level of engagement.
The same administrators also have a private group to continue their conversations that grew to 5,000 members in just a month. These Facebook users and Fifty Shades fans loved a book series enough to get to know one another and create a loyal community.
What if Vintage, the publishing house beyond the Fifty Shades trilogy, contacted the administrators to hold a special giveaway or promotion? Reaching out to readers who have already proven their loyalty for a book would be much easier than trying to reach new users.
Starting Your Own Community
To create a new community on Facebook is a trickier endeavor than connecting with one that is already established.
The company must honestly have a genuine interest in creating a space for users to connect online. The Facebook pages or groups that are so successful is when they are created surrounding a cause or purpose.
For instance, if Red Bull created a page about extreme biking, that would fit into their ideal demographic but isn’t forcing their target audience to endure constant advertising about Red Bull products. This way, extreme biking enthusiasts can talk to one another, and Red Bull employees can moderate the page and occasionally offer giveaways or biking event sponsorships.
The Dynamics Of Twitter Chats
On Twitter, things are a bit different. They don’t have groups or separate company pages.
However, Twitter chats offer unique community opportunities. Twitter chats usually use a set hashtag, such as #glasschat or #fitchat. They happen once a week, usually at a set time, and each week they cover a different topic in the overall subject.
For instance, if it is a fitness-related chat, one week’s topic could be “What at-home workouts do you do when you can’t get to the gym?” Twitter users answer and discuss the week’s topic and end each tweet with the tweet chat hashtag. To follow a Twitter chat, you use http://tweetchat.com/ or just keep refreshing the search.twitter.com page for the hashtag.
A company could sponsor a Twitter chat for their industry. A company should be open to letting competitors participate as well– this fosters a sense of community.
A Twitter chat can be for industry professionals or customers — or both. It all depends on the type of industry. Figure out if there are already Twitter chats happening in the industry, or learn where there is a need for a new one.
Whether a company or organization decides to foster new communities on Facebook and Twitter, or to join existing communities with fun and engaging (and not pushy) giveaways or other promotions, it’s important to put the users’ interests first.
Focusing on a genuine connection for and between users can help foster a sense of trust and communication between them and the company or organization.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.