10 Steps to Build a Loyal Community on Social Media
(Disclaimer: Many factors will be important in determining your actual results on social media and no guarantees are made that you will achieve results similar to ours from our ideas and techniques presented in our blogs or videos.)
There’s a lot of discussion about needing to build a loyal community online in order to succeed on social media as a business, but how do you actually do that?
Let me start by saying that the 10 steps below are best practices for developing a loyal social community, but creating, developing, & managing your social community is more art than science, and will take time to develop your style & voice and what works for you. When you’re engaged with your followers using the right community management tactics, you will attract new followers and advocates. People will want to hang out with your social community, but it just takes time – will you put in the effort to make it happen?
Before you can develop a loyal community, you need to know yourself and your business, so start by writing down and thinking about the following questions: What is your philosophy? What value can you provide your followers? What common goal do you share? Focus your community around this niche topic and philosophy because trying to make everyone your client will end up making no one your client – you need to be specific about who you want in your community in order to provide value & meet their needs.
Integrate these ideas into your social media strategy and communicate them through your social media posts and content. Don’t just talk about your brand or advertise your products, but talk about the topic, philosophy, and values – this is what people connect with – what you stand for as a brand and your brand values.
So, let’s dive in… here are 10 steps to develop a loyal community on social media:
- Find Your Advocates –- To build a loyal community, you first need to know who is in it. Start with the ones who constantly share, comment, & like your posts. Reach out and let them know you value them as members of your community and ask them to invite their friends to stop by your pages.
Then, do some research about where your supporters hang out and visit those networks to let them know about your community. Message them to introduce your brand and what you have to offer them. You can use tools like “Mention” that tracks specific keywords in real time anywhere on the web. You can set up alerts for the main keyword your brand represents as well as secondary topics. Once you identify who’s talking about these topics, engage with them by sending a message to develop a rapport & invite them to your social community for further conversation.
- Lead with Your Passion and Tell Authentic Stories — What does that mean? Don’t make things up; when you use real examples from your life & business people can tell & will identify with your struggle, challenges, joys, & successes. Messages that represent an honest reflection of your values in a story format will create that bond. Audiences want to know that there is an actual human behind the brand – they love being able to interact with them and getting glimpses into the synergy behind the curtain. Lead your social media community by connecting them with your passion and ideas. Letting your community in on your plans for the future is a great way for your business to include your community in the process and help build trust.
- Give Back to Your Followers — Provide incentives to your members who go above & beyond in terms of engagement. Invite them to exclusive events, create contests just for your top users, and add a personal touch giving them a reason to keep engaging; Make them feel connected. Give your followers a voice. Provide opportunities to share their opinions.
- Use Your Followers User-Generated Content — When people see an item portrayed in a real scene by a real person, as opposed to a polished run-of-the-mill product shot, it enables them to think of themselves in that same scenario. When you share your followers’ content, it indirectly shows/tells them that you are a brand that is a community member, a team player, and a love spreader who values their content. You can even showcase the followers who share the most content or start the most conversations.
CAUTION: Always DM the user to get their permission before sharing their content to your social pages. They did not create that content to promote your business initially, but to tell their friends how much they enjoyed your business, and this will show them respect. Document their approval. Then tag the photo & @ mention them to publicly give credit to the creator of the content.
- Stay in Your Lane of Expertise — If you sell ice cream, don’t talk about smartphones. Not only would this be super confusing, but diverting from your area of expertise can make you lose all credibility. You want to focus on crafting a narrative that positions you as a category thought-leader. You want your audience to be able to reference you as the authority in your field, and to do this, you need to stay in your lane of expertise.
- Admit Your Short-Comings — People do business with those they know, like, and trust. One of the key ways to build trust in your business is to admit your mistakes. Your business doesn’t need to be 100% perfect, but you do need to be open and honest — even transparent. People who admit their faults and move forward build up a higher level of trust. Those who try to mask the situation or avoid confronting problems destroy trust.
- Use Social Media to Improve Communication & Customer Service — Don’t just broadcast your message. Don’t put your followers on hold. Timely & reliable communication is vital in building & maintain relationships. Your community members need to know you are there and that you care. If I try to talk to you and keep being ignored, I’m going to stop trying to talk to you. Customers and clients who can’t reach you will turn to someone more available. Any business can romance a customer into the sale — but it’s what happens after the sale that separates you from your competitors. The better service you can deliver to your customers, the more you build trust and loyalty. Pleased and confident customers will tell others and drive word-of-mouth business for you. Unhappy customers will do the same (but in the wrong direction).
- Make It Easy For Your Followers to Find Your Business Online & Join Your Community — Add your social links to the header of your website so it’s on every page at the top (not at the bottom where they have to scroll down to find it); add your social icons to your email signature; add your website to your social pages; add icons to marketing materials; and eliminate potential barriers from joining – try out the joining process for yourself so you understand the process and can identify any problems before you promote the community. And don’t automate, make responses fast & personal.
- Consistency Matters — Don’t start building a community if you don’t have the time or commitment to see this through. Consistently putting in the work is what makes relationships work, and it’s the same for your business community. Show up, listen, respond timely manner, and demonstrate that you care about others more than yourself or your business.
- Focus on Solving Their Problems — With so many other businesses out there offering the same or similar services, you have to make sure you stand out. A great way to achieve this and build the trust of your community (without spending a fortune on advertising to get noticed) is to help people solve problems. Be solution-focused. One of the surest ways to build loyalty is to be of real value — and there is no better way to do that than to solve problems for (and in) your community.
Don’t write these tips off as too basic. Some of the wisest life advice is the simplest. People want to do business with people they enjoy being around, and not be “tricked” into a sale or constantly hear sales pitches. Good ole fashioned people skills, treating others as you want to be treated, helping others, & being of service will ensure your success in building a loyal community.