By: Jacqui Mackway-Wilson
People often ask me what the fastest way is to build their online community. While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, there is no ‘magic bullet’ you can fire that will give you instant results. Although, there are ways to grow large, active and thriving online communities from scratch reasonably quickly, aside from spending vast and exorbitant amounts of money on advertising. Those who are successful in doing so, have implemented a strategy that usually incorporates a number of key focus areas and nothing irritates me more than hearing silly acronyms spewed forth from boring Power Point slides ad nauseam but I do have an inexplicable penchant for the 3 C’s which I am going to share with you today.
Take these to task and watch your online community begin to grow and thrive.
Bloggers know it, have heard it preached and live it through the regular blood, sweat and tears (or should I say Chanel, champagne and caviar?) that they pour into the posts they so meticulously craft, often into the wee hours, to ensure they keep their content-hungry readers fed. The social media wheels of your online community require equal consistency in order to stay well-oiled and turning in a manner that is going to generate the best growth and exposure for your brand. Here I’m referring to: CONSISTENTLY sharing created content, CONSISTENTLY sharing well-curated content (so that it’s not always all about you), CONSISTENTLY engaging – you will set a precedent with your response times online and if you are consistent, people will come to know and trust that they can expect a timely response from you and you will see your engagement levels increase.
Another ‘c’ word we hear all the time. We live in a content-saturated world where access to information is no longer the challenge, but finding the information we are interested in or are looking for amidst the tsunami of everything out there, most certainly is. I’m going to quote global thought-leader Jay Baer’s word from his book YOUTILITY where he summed it up well: “You can either be useful or you can be amazing.” – Jay goes on to explain that while we (are and can all be amazing and share amazing content from time to time), it’s a lot easier (and more budget-friendly) to be consistently useful. Anybody’s content can be amazing when budget is no object – just look at Red Bull – they popped a man off a rocket in space – pretty darn amazing source of content for their brand if you ask me, but I don’t think it was cheap. Work at making what you share useful in one way or another to your readers and don’t be afraid to utilize the many web-based tools available to you to measure, monitor and tweak your approach. Content marketing is part science and part art.
Every business, blog or brand starts off with a small core community of supporters in their inner circle. This core may consist of founding members, family and friends to begin with but they form a very valuable group of people, vital to your online success. Leverage your relationship with your core community of supporters to extend your reach and grow your online visibility. For example, on Facebook, tagging those in your ‘core community’ in a post is an unspoken invitation for them to either comment, like or share the post as they see fit and every time they do, it increases the visibility of your content. The same applies to tagging on Twitter and other networks. Be careful not to overdo it though, none of us want to feel like we’re being spammed. The best is to engage with new interested community members and to work with lists and tag different relevant individuals where applicable, at different times, for certain posts.
These may sound pretty simple/straightforward (and let’s face it, they are), but take into account the fact that like blogging, your social network growth and performance is a marathon, not a sprint. If you employ these foundational steps, you will start to see results. Capitalize on the new growth and engagement as much as possible and soon it will become exponential. Promotion and/or advertising will then serve to bolster your efforts and save you unnecessary expense in the long-run; the added benefit is that you will have a community around you who are genuinely interested in what it is you are doing or have to say – and how do you put a price on that?