Lab Notes
Social Media Haiku

Building A Social Community: Two Questions & Two Answers

There’s much to consider around whether you should start a social community.

But let’s assume you’re already starting or managing one. How do you build it up to be active and worth your time and sweat? How do you grow your ability to reach and continually engage your fans?

To all those unsure how to grow a passionate community, here are two questions to ask yourself, and two ways to answer the challenges you’ll face:

Two Questions

1) What job are you hiring fans to do for you?

Before you even name your community, you should know what you want to get in return. This is true for every piece of content just as it is for the channel as a whole.

Without answering this question, you’ll lack a clear definition of success. You should always know what winning looks like, and it shouldn’t be get a bunch of Likes.

2) What job are fans hiring your brand to do for them?

Without understanding the give-get exchange with fans, you won’t establish a clear sense of place or offer enough renewing value to build trust.

Too many brands only answer the first question, then start throwing right hooks. But if you want to land them, and ultimately return business value, you have to be more than a bullhorn.

What content could you curate or create that would truly delight fans on a daily basis?

Two Answers

To build a passionate community, it takes commitment. It’s learning how to use a platform and thinking about why people spend time on Facebook versus Pinterest, and how are their expectations different.

How does this image look on mobile and what’s the best time of day to post?

All that stuff and plenty more, yes. It will take a great deal of thought and creativity to educate, entertain, and engage the right fans with the right content at the right moments.

But before you start on those challenges, rest your community on the following two pillars:

1) Create A Clear Sense of Place

There should be a common purpose or energy your audience shares with you and with each other.

It could be anything from tips on wine making to keeping up with celebrity gossip, but the right fans should immediately know what value your channel promises, and you should repeatedly keep that promise.

This creates an environment where people know what to expect and look forward to sitting by your campfire.

2) Focus on Building Trust

To build trust with fans, use content to add value to their lives.

Find small ways.

A laugh, a worthy read.

Help them solve a problem.

Ask for nothing back.

Do this five or six times.

Then ask for what you want.

Give, give give, give, give, give, GET.

And make your GET count.

The more you give, the more you can ask.

Long story longer

None of this is easy. It takes constant learning and persistence.

But for a basic playbook to get you started or right your course, you can do worse than this:

Know that you have to give to get. Be clear about what you want to get. Be clear about what you’ll give. Commit to those things. Attract fans around a clear purpose or energy so they know what to expect. Build trust through adding repeatable value to their lives. Then when you ask for what you want, they’ll be far more receptive.

Do you approach building or nurturing social communities differently? I’d love to hear your ideas.

Paul writes about modern marketing practices for today's fragmented digital world.

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