Over the last few days I have read a lot about the best way to manage and grow your social media sites. I have read about micro-blogging, replacing your image when sharing links, focusing on quality photos and sharing news worthy content. All of this advice makes sense and is important to keep in mind when managing your social media presence. Ultimately though it is about community building. This is the piece that cannot get lost in translation.
Your goal should not be to add as many “Likes” or “+1s.” What you want is engagement. You want a targeted audience of followers. You want to BUILD A COMMUNITY. This community will engage when they are inspired and when they connect to your brand or blog’s voice. Facebook, Google+, Twitter and the rest of them offer ways to connect with potential customers or readers. They are not, however, guaranteed drivers to close a sale. Do not put all your eggs in this basket, because you will not find success.
I know it sounds crazy for a Social Media Consultant to admit this, but it is true. You cannot assume that by simply adding numbers to your site that you will garner more success. Successful social media management is about more than numbers. Here are a few tips for community building using social media.
1.) Know and Understand Your Target Audience
Focus your messages to the people you want to attract to your website. This should dictate everything, from the way you create status updates to the articles or photos you share.
2.) Be Interesting and Have a Personality
Find your authentic voice and use it… everywhere. Do not try so hard to sound like anyone other than you. You are interesting – I swear. So inject your personality into your social media. People like to connect with real people, not companies. Your brand can and should have a unique voice.
3.) Do Not Over Promote Yourself
Share what your audience (back to number 1) will enjoy. You are building a community with them, not simply selling your business. By creating loyalty and community, you will create a place that is receptive to your specials and products. Find the balance that works for your audience.
4.) Have Conversations and Ask Questions
Do not speak at people. Just like in real life, you have to be interested in others. You have to have conversations. Share your thoughts and ideas, but ask open-ended questions. Then ask simple yes or no questions. Then ask for their stories and photos. Make your community about your audience.
5.) Focus on the Social Media sites that Make Sense for Your Business
Just as you have to understand your target audience, you also have to understand who is using certain social media sites. Facebook is a little more social and demographically larger with women. Google+, however, is an emerging social media platform so it is currently more used among men. Do your research and know where you should place your energy. Does Instagram make sense for your business? How about Pinterest? While having a presence across many social media sites is a good idea, it does not mean you should focus all your attention equally.
6.) Don’t Give Up
Most importantly, keep going. It takes time to build a community. Paying for likes is easy. Growing a solid group of interested and engaged followers takes patience, but is worth the energy. Eventually, you won’t feel like you are shouting into the wind. You will speak and hear a response. You will find anticipation and true engagement. You can build a community using social media.
Do you know who is following you? Are you connected to your readers and/or customers? What does your community look like? Leave me a comment and let’s have a conversation.
Nicole Dash is the Founder of Connect Authentically. She helps businesses and writers in the Washington DC build, engage and grow a community in an authentic way through digital marketing management and communications consulting. Connect with her on Twitter or on Facebook.
This first appeared on www.ConnectAuthentically.com.