Everyone wants to be part of a community, and it’s no different online. Over 3.725 billion people turn to Twitter, Instagram and more to make connections, so what can businesses do to build and cultivate communities on social media platforms?
In this T-Time video, Mark talks to Twitter influencer Samantha Kelly, Instagram influencer Sara Tasker and Sarah Dunwood, a photographer who has built a strong following over the past year. On the agenda are four questions:
- How do I start building a community?
- How do I get more comments, likes and shares and then more followers, and how important are they?
- If I’m not getting engagement, how do I know if it’s my content or that people just aren’t seeing it?
- Is there a simple routine I can follow to build my community?
Where do I start building a community on social media?
(02:50) The best place to begin your journey is where your audience is; as Sara points out, the communities already exist, you just need to find them.
If they’re on Twitter, then that is where you should focus your efforts; if they’re on Instagram, then learn the lingo and get stuck in. You need to know where people are and what they’re looking for before you can take any meaningful steps in the right direction. Once you’ve done this, start interacting and building relationships.
You start where your audience are and then just start talking to themSamantha Kelly
To make the most out of your time on any social media platform, make sure that you’re adding something of value to your community. Sara maintains that people using Twitter and Instagram want to feel like they’re being heard and getting value from their time online, and this is something that you can create. However, it’s important to view this as genuine human interaction and to think of how you can be of service to others, not how they can help you.
According to all three experts, it’s all about authenticity. Respond to and engage with others rather than being a passive user. Keep your own personality and offer support to others where you can; your online persona will undoubtedly be a reflection of who you are offline.
How do I get more interaction and followers? And how important are they?
(09:25) It’s easy to become obsessed with numbers, but you need to look at the bigger picture. People want value, and to be entertained and inspired, so you need to make sure that you’re giving your community all of those things.
On Twitter, one way to measure this is by using the platform’s analytics tool. Have a look and see what is getting the most engagement from your followers. Is it your calls to action? Blog posts? Content you’ve retweeted? That should begin to point you in the right direction. An important question to ask yourself is ‘Would I follow me?’ If you wouldn’t, why? Take a step back and really analyse your social media accounts.
For both Twitter and Instagram, interaction is key. People want to know that there’s someone human at the other end of a conversation, so keep nurturing relationships you’ve made and create new ones. Sara suggests making sure people that can connect to your posts to make room for a conversation and show that you are real and authentic.
When it comes to measuring engagement, you need to figure out what you are actually trying to track. If you’re looking for sales, there is little point in focusing on followers. If it’s a community you’re after on social media, focus on comments and direct messages because they are how you can talk directly to your audience.
There’s no point chasing followers if what you want is salesSara Tasker
Sometimes not measuring anything at all can be the best approach. Sarah found that when she stopped thinking about her follower count, her social media began to take off. Instead of looking at numbers, consider what you’re offering and how it can help others – for Sarah, this then led to an increase in followers because people could see that she was genuine and wanted to forge relationships.
The minute I stopped thinking about how many followers I’d got was the point where my social media started working for meSarah Dunwood
Most importantly, don’t push competitors away; rivalry won’t help you here. Create or join a community with them and help each other out with your niche and business. Learn and grow together to widen your horizons.
If I’m not getting engagement, how do I know if it’s my content or that people just aren’t seeing it?
(18:17) No matter what you’re posting, engagement will always fluctuate. Pay attention to analytics tools on your social media platforms and see what performs well for you.
One of the best things you can do to drive interaction is be genuine. People will connect more with other people rather than businesses, so it’s vital to creating new relationships. Samantha suggests taking your customers on a journey and showing them your personality. Make content that others can relate to.
Is there a simple routine I can follow to build my community on social media?
(21:59) This will entirely depend on the platform that you’re using. For Instagram, Sara advocates a 20-minute routine to give you an intentional rhythm when you use the app. Start by posting at a time when you know most of your audience will be online, then use the rest of your time to engage with your community by:
- Replying to comments on your posts
- Commenting on other posts that have been recently published
- Replying to direct messages
- Visiting profiles that have liked your recent posts
- Finding out who is commenting on your competitors’ or peers’ posts
Sarah agrees with limiting the time you spend on social media. It is so easy to keep scrolling for hours on end, so having dedicated, structured time is vital. Posts can be scheduled ahead of time so that you don’t disappear down the rabbit hole, but, particularly with Instagram, those first few minutes are vital – the more traction your post gains, the wider its reach will be on the app.
When it comes to Twitter, Samantha suggests a total of seven tweets a day, but they should all provide something different for your community. One could be something inspirational that will make people feel good, while the next could be a call to action, although you don’t want to make it too much like a sales tweet. Use your others to help members of your audience, or link to blog posts on your website or even elsewhere.
When it comes down to it, the best way you can build a community on social media is by being authentic and helpful and building a meaningful connection with your followers. If you’re not providing something of value, why would anyone stop to listen?
What tips do you have for creating a community on social media? Let us know in the comments. In the meantime, subscribe to our YouTube channel so you never miss a T-Time video, and get in touch to find out more about social media marketing.