Social communities don’t just tend to themselves, their maintenance is a full time job. They need to be constructed and checked multiple times daily. Sandy Carter, Author of “Get Bold” outlines seven rules for building a social community:
- Make your goals clear. Explain what you’re trying to achieve when you engage your community.
- Hire a great community manager who embeds him or herself in the community.
- Attract or invite the right members for the group.
- Encourage and stay close to engage discussions, and acknowledge the feedback from participants in your dialogue.
- Reward contribution in the community to help it grow and thrive. It could even be something as simple as showing a great contributor a “scoop” of new content!
- Ensure that you add real value. Focus on the content, not making sales.
- Follow the trust rules. Be consistent, responsive, open and transparent. Community members need to know that there is someone listening at the other end of the online community who’s listening, and who will respond and engage with them.
As you can tell, even in seven steps building an online community is no easy task. A Social Business manager is essential to the vitality and success of your community. Building an online community isn’t just about getting the most Facebook or Twitter followers. Having half a million likes on Facebook is great, but how many of them are you interacting with? How many of them actually care about what you’re saying?
Using social analytics, you need to identify who the active participants are that actually do share and create content about your company. An Active participant is someone that regularly comments, rates, or creates content about your brand on a consistent basis, they can be an employee or a client. Most importantly, you need to use them to your benefit. Make them feel special, give them extra information and ask for their feedback so they will continue to share content about your company. It is important to identify these people because in the United States 6% of online adults generate 80% of all influence and impressions online according to a Forrester Report “Peer Influence Analysis” by Augie Ray and Josh Bernoff.
Identifying and using these people will help to build a brand army for you. A brand army will engage on behalf of your brand. They will comment and rate your business positively, and may even recommend you to others within their own online community.
Audiences online need to be engaged. A Social Business manger is the key person in orchestrating an integrated form of social business. This person can assist the company in the transition into social business as well as mange the community afterwards.
Having a well maintained social community will increase a company’s social reach. They will be potentially able to be heard by the largest amount of people for them in that moment. A social community will also increase trust in a company. The community gives people a space to interact with the company. The Social Business manger can then respond to these people and help show them how the company will address their needs. This is a huge part of the online community and directly ties in with marketing and public relations. Social communities make it possible to reach the company at all hours of the day, and responding to participants in a timely manner is essential. As this helps foster trust and reliance on the brand, social communities are the future of business. People now search companies before using them, and a company with a strong, and positive online presence will be one that succeeds.