In this digital day and age, social media has been an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Social media platforms are one of people’s primary sources of engagement and interactions. With billions of users across different platforms worldwide, social media is a key factor when it comes to connecting and communicating with one another.
But of all the things that social media has brought into our highly digital world, the advent of online communities is arguably one of the most powerful yet underappreciated trends.
In the simplest terms, social media communities are groups of people who share similar interests and have bonded and connected online. But more than that, they have established a strong foundation and are dedicated to creating a conducive online environment for their community members.
With this in mind, digital marketers and content creators have been exploring the phenomenon of social media communities. They are looking for ways to utilize these unique and highly specific demographics and leverage communities in their digital marketing strategies.
Taking this into consideration, this article aims to provide an overview of social media communities. Aside from that, we will also provide a comprehensive guide and some strategies on how to build a community online to give you a better idea.
What Are Social Media Communities?
Before anything else, it is essential to understand what social media communities are, how they come to be, and their role in today’s digital landscape.
One thing that digital marketers and content creators need to understand about online communities is that it is unlike other closely similar terms such as fans or followers. Instead, social media communities have several defining characteristics.
A defining feature of an online community is that members actively interact and engage with one another. While general audiences or even fans can share the same interests, this does not automatically mean that they belong to a community.
Generally, online communities have established a significantly strong connection that is enough to build a distinct culture and environment for themselves. Aside from sharing similar interests, social media community members use a common language, develop jargon and terms, and build their customs.
Because of this, social media communities foster a sense of belongingness, which is unlike other concepts of groups, such as casual fans, followers, or audiences.
In relation to the topic of audiences, some of them confuse the concept of community with the idea of being a fan or follower of a particular brand, personality, or content creator. However, there is a particular element that is different between the two.
Outside of the concept of online communities, communication is generally one-directional. This means that content or information comes from one source, which is the brand or creator they follow. Under this circumstance, interaction between and among audience members is minimal.
On the other hand, online communities enjoy a unique dynamic where communication and interaction occur between the primary source and among members as well.
In this case, online communities create an environment where members are more involved. This even leads to more active participation, with member willing to show and give their support and assistance, all in the name of the interest and passion they mutually share.
Step-by-Step Guide To Building Social Media Community
Now that you have a better understanding of what social media communities are, let’s dive into the process of building a community from the ground up. Digital marketers and content creators can benefit from having a solid community to support their brands, and a strong online presence can entice people to learn more about what you have to offer.
Identifying A Target Audience or Demographic
When it comes to any online campaign, it is essential to identify the target audience or demographic that you want your efforts directed to. Social media platforms have billions of users across the globe. Thus, determining your target audience is critical in creating a community that would draw your desired group of people.
Having a target audience in mind helps ensure that you are aligning your efforts with what they supposedly want or need. Aside from that, this step can also lead to better engagement and a higher possibility of encouraging new members.
There are steps involved in determining the most suitable target audience. The most basic feature to look at is the demographic characteristics. This includes factors such as their gender, age, location, and the like.
For a deeper audience understanding, dwell on their psychographic characteristics. Look at their interests, preferences, values, beliefs, motivations, and lifestyles. Aside from that, you can also look at behavioral patterns related to their social media usage. See how active they are on social media and the types of activities they participate in online.
Picking a Specific Social Media Platform
Once you have a target audience in mind, the next step is to pick the most suitable social media platform for you to build your community. Different social media platforms have different user bases. Thus, it is important to consider your target audience when choosing the platform for your community campaign.
Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the most popular social networking sites. These are also characterized by a significantly large and diverse user base. However, other social media platforms, such as YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram, are also a great way to reach audiences that are particularly interested in visual media and content.
But aside from the platform’s user base, another factor that community founders should consider is the platform’s array of tools and features that can help with their campaigns.
A prime example of this is Facebook. Since Facebook is primarily a social networking platform, it has several features, such as Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages, that are particularly designed to make community building and management easier.
Building Community Foundations
Online communities are more than just a collection of people who share the same interests. Instead, social media communities are characterized by a distinct culture, customs, and environment developed through persistent interactions.
Considering this, a critical step in the process of successfully building an online community revolves around creating these defining features. Aside from that, having solid community foundations can draw in more members who are significantly involved and invested in what you have to offer.
The first step in establishing an online community’s foundations is building its image. List your community’s core values and principles that will help guide you in creating the most conducive online space for future members.
Having these at the forefront of your community can help ensure that anyone joining aligns or shares the same values, which can prevent conflict and disagreements in the future.
The next step would be to identify your purpose and goals. Communities online have different dynamics. Some are there to build and nurture social networks, while others are created to share knowledge, entertain, or advocate.
It is essential to reiterate this information to your community members as much as possible. Furthermore, make sure that these details are accessible to aspiring members to ensure that they agree with the policy and practices followed inside your group.
Engaging Target Audience and Encouraging Participation
The process of creating an online community is not as simple as starting a group and then calling it a day. For a social media community to succeed, it is essential for its founders to actively engage their target audience to nurture their connections as well as attract new members.
With this in mind, there are various ways communities can engage their target audience and encourage them to participate and be more involved.
One way to do this is to offer them high-quality content that can pique their interest, expand their knowledge, or simply entertain them. The purpose of this is to provide them with something of value that can strengthen their relationship and loyalty to the community.
Another strategy is to open your community as a space for healthy and productive discussions. Posing questions and asking about member’s opinions and thoughts bolsters the community’s sense of belongingness. Aside from that, encouraging your community members to speak their minds while avoiding conflict is key to building a positive, healthy, and conducive online space.
To further encourage community members to participate, consider offering perks and rewards. Better yet, introduce the concept of gamification, where the more active a member is, the more perks they unlock and receive. These can motivate members to be more involved in the events and activities happening inside the community.
Effective Strategies How To Grow A Social Media Community
Once you’ve successfully built a community online, the next step is to adopt strategies to help you grow, expand, and gain more members. There is a wide variety of strategies digital marketers and content creators alike utilize to effectively and efficiently grow their communities.
To give you a better idea, here is a brief overview of some of the most popular strategies used to grow a social media community.
Collaborate with Social Media Influencers
Influencers are the digital world’s version of celebrities. Much like Hollywood stars, social media influencers are personalities that hold a significant degree of clout and influence over their followers.
They can drive trends, encourage a particular behavior, and even change people’s perceptions. With this in mind, digital marketers and content creators can benefit significantly when they work in collaboration with an established social media influencer.
The most common practice in this strategy is for brands to have influencers to promote their brand, products, or services. This introduces them to the influencer’s audience, and exposure is key to gaining new followers, customers, and community members.
Invest in Content Marketing
Content is a powerful online marketing tool. Considering this, it is a key factor in growing a social media community. To better enthuse and engage your target audience, it is important to create high-quality and valuable content.
But aside from quality, it is also essential to pay attention to the quantity of content you publish. Consistency is also an important factor in engaging your target audience as well as community members. The more content you put out there, the more engaged and involved your audience becomes.
A simple yet helpful tip when it comes to content creation for social media communities is to encourage members to produce and share their content. User-generated content is an effective way to keep members involved. But aside from that, having them contribute to your community’s content allows them to feel like a valuable member.
Communities are a key element of social media platforms nowadays. Considering this, brands and content creators need to learn how to leverage online communities to increase brand awareness and establish a strong and loyal follower base.
To do this, it is critical to understand how communities come to be in today’s digital world. More than that, it is important to follow the process of building a community with strong foundations, conducive environments, and a positive culture. These can not only help draw in new members but keep them as part of the community for a long time.
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