Social Communities - We're better together!
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Social media groups and communities aren't new - but they're more popular now than ever before and they're continuing to grow!
But what exactly are they? Well, they're usually private online groups (often created by brands as a networking platform for their fellow professionals and customers) and they provide a place for like-minded people to come together and talk about their shared interests. Facebook Groups are a perfect example.
Loads of brands use online groups to bring their existing and prospective customers together and engage with them in a relevant and meaningful way. Group members can discuss various topics, share experiences and look for help with any related issues they may have.
Brands can also use their social media communities to launch new products, get customer feedback and gain really valuable customer insights.
The following are just some examples of brand groups and communities that are bringing customers together…
In early 2019, Facebook announced that it would make “Groups” a central focus of its platform, and following a redesign to the Groups tab and a load of new features, it saw huge growth as users were able to discover relevant content much more easily.
Brands that use Facebook Groups get direct engagement with followers and have great exposure on the app via posts and discussions from Groups that can be seen in the News Feed.
As a brand using Facebook Groups, you'll get the chance to show your expertise and dedication to your customers, as many will be asking questions that are likely to be really useful to other group members. By answering questions, encouraging and requesting feedback, and generating networking opportunities, you can create really valuable personal connections with your customers to ensure they return!
Watch Parties are also a really cool and very underused feature. They let you share public videos on Facebook to a group and watch it in real-time with other group members. You can view and react to the video all at once, similar to how users interact when watching a live broadcast.
Twitter chats can create a strong sense of community through content, bringing people together in a real-time conversation. It gives your brand the perfect opportunity to engage directly with current and potential customers.
Twitter chats, sometimes known as Tweet chats, happen when a group of people all tweet about the same topic using a specific hashtag that allows it to be followed on Twitter. The chats are at a specific time and often repeat weekly or bi-weekly or are only at announced times.
As a host, you’re able to establish your brand as an authority in your industry and build a strong sense of community. Choosing your topics and questions carefully is really important - content from recent blog posts, latest social trends or controversial topics can be a good foundation for an energised Twitter Chat!
LinkedIn groups are great for expanding your reach and interacting with others in your industry.
They can connect you with customers and like-minded professionals and they’re great for sharing content and increasing your engagement. They're also a really good way of being recognised as a thought leader.
They've been around for some time and compared to Facebook groups they are a bit limited, but they still have similar qualities and are worth exploring. They appear to be making a 'come back' in 2020 with the announcement of a new set of groups updates and tools that are designed to help drive more engagement and interaction, which will bring them closer to the trends of increased in-app engagement.
Creating a Sense of Community
"More than ever before, potential buyers want to hear from current customers – so give them a place to do just that.”
Bridget Poetker – Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2
A big part of meaningful and valuable experiences on social media is the way that brands engage with their audience. While sharing posts that you believe your target audience will enjoy is part of maintaining your social media presence, you also need to encourage and cultivate interactions that are more than a simple like or share.
There are loads of brands out there who appear to have large social media followings, yet, when you look more closely at individual posts, their engagement levels are almost non-existent. Any brands that are seeing more engagement from their followers are doing so by building communities around their content.
Building social media communities away from your profiles is only the start - just creating a group and having people join is no guarantee that they will engage with you. You'll also need to create content that gets them talking, encourages conversations and cultivates that feeling of community.
Doing so can keep people engaged with your brand, but can also bring in new leads and customers whilst also adding that human, personal touch.
“I believe that the days of merely posting content and people showing up to engage are slowly coming to an end as pay-to-play social media becomes more and more prevalent with every social network over time. As a company, you're already at a disadvantage, which is why it will become more important than ever to actually engage with your community."
"I'm not talking about engagement so that your content shows up better in the algorithm, but actually thanking those people in your community not only when they comment or engage with your content but actually proactively reaching out to them like a social media user would reach out to a friend. If your business wants to survive in organic social media in 2020, I believe that this sort of humanization of your brand will be necessary.”
Neal Schaffer - Leading Global Educator and effective implementer of social media strategy for business.
How can you make sure that you're in tune with this trend?
Join a group of like-minded people, get a feel of how it works, contribute, and follow the rules!
Setup your own social media group/s. But, before jumping in, think carefully about which social network/s to have a presence in. Only choose the ones that will work with your business to avoid wasting time and getting disappointing results.
Be sure to engage with your community by asking questions, responding to their comments and creating an interesting, positive and fun atmosphere that makes everyone feel at home. Remember, now that you have a community it’s not about the product – it’s about the people.
Add value. If you want to build a real sense of community, you need to solve problems. Use social listening to uncover pain points. Ask questions or host Q&A sessions and find out what your community members are struggling with most, and create content that educates them and helps them overcome any issues they may be facing,
Be generous. With communities, the more you give, the more you’ll get back and they will start to care more about your brand. For example, you can run giveaway competitions for all group members or reward your top contributors with something that’s of value to them.
Your passion is your passion - If you want to create an engaged community on social media, you need to make it your community’s passion, too. The easiest way to do this is via user-generated content. In terms of social proof, there’s really nothing better and it’s exciting and fun for your followers.
Keep your community up-to-date with your journey. Create behind-the-scenes videos of your business and showcase what you’re up to and what you’ve been doing recently.
And last but by no means least, tell your story. It's what creates an emotional bond with your audience. It’s where they see your values resonating in their own.
And don't stop weaving your story into your updates throughout this year and beyond!!