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A true online community differs from sparingly contributed content in that community goals aim for centralized, relevant, and consistent content from regular, active members within a group. The curation of a buzzing online group presence should be near the top of a marketing manager’s list of goals, as informal individual output will advance the company’s inbound marketing efforts significantly. Your online efforts can translate into offline results in terms of financial and marketing success, so put your best finger forward to click your way to social marketing success.
Consider the following points to generate the thriving online social community of your company’s dreams:
Create the aura of a special members-only group.
Members will stick to your community and remain active so long as they are shown respect and appreciation. As an online community manager, take note of active users and give them a taste of special treatment, whether that includes a sneak peek of a new product or feature, correspondence from the company’s end, or any other incentives that make them feel acknowledged and valued. Online promotions, reviews, and word-of-mouth testimonials speak loudest when they come from actual consumers, so invest your time with this selected group from the grassroots level up in order to help them help you.
Get the conversation flowing.
Just like in any getting-to-know-you stage—on a date, at an interview, et al—open-ended questions work best in facilitating a genuine and interesting dialogue. Yes or no questions, as well as those that produce single word answers, are less than likely to spur passion and momentum on your social channels. Think the five W’s and H: who, what, where, when, why, and how—to get group members to think on a deeper level and share memorable content. User-generated content (UGC) is a great route for organic online community building, allowing your fans to speak for themselves, in their own unique voices, on behalf of your product or services.
Show constant signs of life.
The whole idea behind generating a worthy online community is that it remains dynamic. Be sure to set up notification alerts and check your online platforms regularly to ensure that your group’s questions and comments are answered fully and readily. If a user thinks he’s whistling dixie into the wind—leaving a post unanswered and himself unengaged—he is most likely to be discouraged from posting again. While it may be relatively simple to gain group members for your community, you must put forth continuous effort in marketing and growth to retain them for the long haul.
Promote your group and designate the benefits of your online community.
Once your community generates enough steam via fans and content, be sure to promote your efforts on your associated social groups and with email marketing in order to make it grow. Tailor your promotion to the social medium on which it is hosted: think snappy snippets on Twitter, a compelling lead plus photo on Facebook, a professional yet friendly CTA on LinkedIn, etc. In terms of email marketing, be judicious with your output, as too many emails lacking decent content will drive your users to unsubscribe. Prepare this output with personalized touches and email-exclusive benefits, incentivizing your fans to remain subscribed and engaged.
Steer away from salacious content.
Shy away from touchy subject matters that can spur viral uproars, including but not limited to politics, international affairs, and related social issues. Even small snippets of this sort can have massive consequences, propelling a hotbed of zealous protesters to use your social channels as a political soapbox. Avoid these mishaps at all costs for the sake of maintaining harmony and cohesion within your group, as security and stability are at the core of sustaining a healthy and happy community.
Explore your niche through other mediums on the web.
While your own website and official social channels remain the supreme authority of your business, you won’t attract new community members if you don’t take active social marketing measures in their recruitment. Get involved within the communities of similarly minded companies and social groups—as well as on associated blogs and trade publications—to investigate if they’d be right for your community. Once you find these potential new fans, creatively show them the selling points of your own group and direct them to your site. Hit your targets, but not too hard: pushiness and aggressive CTAs will only steer these users in the opposite direction.
Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve to create dynamic online groups, or perhaps some marketing marvels to share? Stay social and contribute to our community by letting us know!