Last week I attended Jess Siggers’ Instagram workshop as part of Social Media Week Bristol, and it was all about growing a community on Instagram.
It was fascinating (as my four pages of scribbled notes will tell you) and really got the old brain cogs whirring.
Not just about my Adminosaurus Instagram account, but about other social media platforms, and other ways of building a community around your business.
Why should you want to build a community?
Last week, I mentioned in my Facebook Live about why you shouldn’t be salesy in your marketing. It’s because marketing has changed so much over the decades. It’s no longer about pitching your product, it’s about relationships.
Which is where communities come in.
Building a community allows you to:
- Build trust with your followers, random people and potential customers. Once people know they can trust you, they’re much more likely to continue following you and to buy from you.
- Be transparent. By showing these people who you really are, what you’re capable of and that you’re relatable and human.
- Turn your customers into fans. Once you’ve managed to make one sale, you can invite that customer into your community. If they feel like they belong and they enjoy it, they’re much more likely to become a fan which means they’ll spread the word about your wonderful business.
- Generate returning customers. And what do people who trust you, like you and are a fan of your business do? They buy from you. A lot. Again and again. It’s so much easier to convince an existing customer to buy from you again than it is to find new customers – you’ve already hooked them, you just need to show them what wondrous value you can offer them.
Where should you build your community?
So building a community for your business can be a great thing.
It’s a lot of hard work, and often easier said than done, but the benefits can be huge.
Are you convinced? I definitely am.
Which leads onto the next big question of where you should build your community. Here is just a selection of ideas:
- Your email list.
I reckon this is one of the hardest but safest places to build your community. I’ve seen this done so well but not very often. One business owner I used to follow did it wonderfully for the first year I received her emails. She sent an email every day. They were short, business related but also personal. It was like having a conversation, and because she was so relatable, you felt more comfortable in hitting reply and chatting with her when she asked questions. It also made you more inclined to buy from her. In fact, I soon bought her book.
Unfortunately, she gradually become more and more salesy. Soon every email was about business and marketing and how we should buy from her. Even when I did respond, her responses were pitches. I got bored of the emails and turned off by the pitches and unsubscribed.Of course, you don’t have to send an email every day. But by being a bit personal, chatty and less pushy with your calls to action, you can build a community around your email list that means people are more comfortable and ready to hit reply and let you know who they are, the problems they’re having (that relates to your business) and allows you to gently sell.
The downside is that they really talk to each other. Only with you.
At first, I couldn’t see how you would build a community on Instagram. But, of course, it’s a social media platform. Once you’ve built up your followers, and if your followers are engaged and truly interested in what you do rather than just wanting a follow back (seriously, that’s really annoying. Stop it), there is so much community potential!Other than the obvious getting conversations going in the comments of your posts, you can also run polls on your Stories, contests and encourage user generated income. Get your followers to post and tag you in images of your product or service in action. It’ll make your following feel more involved while helping with your marketing.
- Using a hashtag on Twitter
You don’t even really need a large following to get this one started. Create a hashtag for your business and start a conversation on Twitter. You can dedicate an hour a week to having a chat with people or use it throughout the week for people to ask questions and get support. This is also a great way to get some user generated content going.Just remember to market your hashtag, tell people it exists, and try to stay on top of the comments and questions people post.
- Facebook group
Ah, my favourite choice for an online community. In a good group, you can spend hours procrastinating, chatting, supporting each other or just making others laugh with a good gif. The best ones, in my opinion, is where the owner of the group regularly checks in for a Facebook Live with random opinions, bits of personal stuff, lots of transparency and a ton of helpfulness.Facebook groups take a lot of work, but can be so beneficial to your business as well as your social needs. Join some Facebook groups and see how they’re run. Take what you like and what you see working, and see if you can apply it to your own. Facebook groups can be a fantastic way of making new friends, as well as new customers.
The marketing world is moving from the pitch to the friendly community. Yes, it takes work but gone are the slimy sales feelings and making new contacts, friends and having fun is in.
Are you building a community for your business?
What’s your preferred platform?