With the growth of social media, the way that businesses promote themselves, secure new business and retain existing customers is changing. These people are no longer a passive audience; they are now expecting more engagement and two-way conversation. It’s almost as if we are reverting back to the medieval times when there was someone within the community to carry out every service that was required.
To turn your online audience into an online community, the key is engagement, and here are 5 ways to get them engaged, make your online presence more effective and grow your community:
To promote two-way conversation, you need to respond personally to people. This means replying to emails or messages in a personal manner, without generic messages which don’t really answer the specific question that you are being asked. If you have so many queries to respond to, get someone else to help you. There’s nothing wrong with dispatching a special agent to help you out.
Try to respond to both positive and negative comments – and don’t shy away from complaints, people will respect you more in the long run.
Speak Directly To Your Audience
Think about the voice of your brand. What would it sound like? Funny? Serious? Intelligent? Speak directly to your audience through your website and social media with this voice. When you are writing copy, imagine your typical customer sitting across the table from you and write as you would be talking to them. The phrase “appeal to many, talk to one” is the key here. Some people say that social media should be treated like a telephone, not a megaphone.
Hold Community-Based Events
Encourage your community to get involved with events and competitions. You could ask them to send photos of themselves using your product, and encourage them to talk between themselves. Invite comments on photos published by both you and them. By getting to know other ‘users’, your community will start networking within itself, which could be beneficial to everyone and not just for you.
Put Out The Right Content
As part of building a community, you will get to know your customer base better. This will allow you to release content which is of great interest to them, although not necessarily being directly linked to your business. This serves to strengthen the community even more and you will find people returning all the time even when they are not looking to buy, and as a consequence, they won’t think twice when they are actually wanting to buy.
Be Interested In Your Followers
By showing an interest in your following, you are not only being kind to them and showing that you are a person; you are also potentially gaining more exposure for yourself. The internet is a network. By following your followers, you are opening the doors to many other people similar to that follower. By commenting on updates on your follower, many people who you would never have reached before.
By showing your personality and that you are trustworthy, your followers will automatically want to be engaging with you. You can maximise the effect of this engagement by growing your own community and this can prove to be valuable for not only you and your business but also for your community members. By providing value to them they will not only be sure to use your product or service, but also recommend to others.
Digital Marketing Manager
The Internet Marketing Academy
(Image courtesy of dollarphotoclub)