In an industry where the competition is increasing by the day, growing on social media is becoming tougher. From low organic audience reach to challenging audience engagement, no industry is spared and that’s exactly why it is time for brands to build a social media community.
In 2018, Notion launched its 2.0 version and hasn’t looked back. It has 30 million users worldwide with a revenue of $10 billion. Notion is among the most prominent examples of companies leveraging a social media community to create community-led growth.
Notion hired their second marketing team member, Ben Lang, through community platforms. They discovered his adoration for Notion with a Notion fan page and a Facebook group called Notion Made Simple.
They have since heavily banked on the community to represent the brand. Notion has several community-led groups on Reddit and multiple groups across social media platforms catering to users and Notion enthusiasts.
As you can see, their success can be directly correlated to their active efforts in engaging their community that grew organically.
Let’s take another example – GymShark.
From day one, GymShark has always been about building a community of people who truly believe in its mission and vision, and find value in their products. The Founder of GymShark is often found talking about how he has wanted to keep his customers close to ensure the brand built is consumer-first in every way possible.
While Notion took an approach to building a social media community on their platform itself, GymShark took the route of high competition – social media.
Apart from having a six million strong (and growing) following on Instagram alone, they have built targeted communities with the help of branded hashtags. As you can see, their hashtags address different segments of their marketing campaigns and audience segments – Women, Men and Training.
But it wasn’t just the branded hashtags that built them a social media community. Their social media content is focused on involving their followers, customers, micro and macro influencers. As compared to other brands that often use scripted content, this builds relatability into their social media accounts – instantly getting more people to follow and engage with them.
This is the essence of building a social media community and consistently fostering it.
There are plenty of social platform options for creating social media communities, and all have the same theme – make it about them and not you.
What is a social media community?
A social media community is a space where like-minded people engage, learn, and grow. It is a platform with content curated by a brand or person and further accelerated by the community members.
Over time, a community can exist without even regular prompts by the brand. It can be self-sustained by passionate community members.
Communities on social media are not just your audience; they are a part of your brand and can help you grow easily when done right.
What is the value of a social media community?
The ROI for advanced social media communities on social media is about 7,071%. Online communities have seen significant interest from people, especially since the pandemic. When offline communities were hard to reach, people found each other and similar ideologies through online communities.
This camaraderie through communities has provided brands a platform to share space with their audience. A community encourages brands to learn from its members and provides an organic voice.
Here are some more benefits of having a social media community:
- Get feedback directly from customers and target audience
- Ask questions and get input for your products
- Help reach more people; you can convert this into revenue as your top-of-the-funnel audience increases
- Establish yourself as a reliable and relatable brand
- Engage with your community without digital barriers
- Builds brand loyalty when you engage well with community members and they can vouch for you
- Increases customer retention when people see how well-liked your brand is
- Reduces marketing costs as community serves as a “word of mouth” phenomenon
- Builds a community of people who support each other and your brand
However, we know this isn’t easy to achieve. You have to build an audience first. Then constantly engage your audience with relevant content.
So if you are wondering how to create a social media community, we have some answers for you.
14 Ways to build a social media community
Building a social media community can be overwhelming, especially if you are just starting. Whether you are a B2B or B2C brand, or an individual hustling to build your business or services, the key to success is making the right community online.
In the information age of infinite scrolling on social media, adding value to people’s lives is hard. You need to speak to your audience in an engaging yet authentic way to make a difference in their scrolling. Moreover, once someone is interested in your content, brand, or community, making them stay depends on how you show value.
Here are some tips for building your social media community:
1. Involve the people you know – you have to start somewhere
As mentioned earlier, “word of mouth” is vital to building a social media community. Initially, you need to take the help of the people you know to do it well.
Encourage your employees to spark conversations online and engage with your social media channels.
Involve your friends and family as well. Yes, that can sometimes be awkward and annoying, but hey, it’s part of the process.
Get them to use your products and services, and ask them to engage with and share your content. This is how your brand’s voice can go from reaching no one to reaching someone.
2. Ask questions and interact with your community members
One of the most effective ways to involve them is to ask them questions. Your community might not be engaging enough at the beginning on its own. This is when you have to be more proactive.
Ask for their feedback and make them feel heard. When you ask them for suggestions, you make them feel like they are a part of your brand. This is how they go from being your audience to becoming a part of your community.
Here are two examples of brands involving their social followers:
In the first one, Gumroad actively makes community members a part of their decision making process and then implements changes based on poll answers.
And here’s an example from the popular coffee chain, Costa Coffee. The brand focusing on understanding which of their menu items are actually a customer favorite.
3. Share people’s stories with your community
Stories are a great medium to show your brand’s essence. More importantly, your customers’ stories provide a different perspective on your brand. They add more humanness to your brand’s name.
You can get these stories by encouraging customers to share their stories of using your products and tag you in them. You could also actively interview your customers and get their stories. Whatever way you choose to do it, sharing the story shows the world how your products and services matter and make a difference.
Tesla has a video series where they go beyond talking about their vehicles and share the stories of people who use them. This way, people can see Tesla as more than just a brand associated with Elon Musk. It’s a brand that makes products used by real people with real-life stories.
Similarly, Fenty Beauty is big on posting user generated content like product reviews in the form of unboxing videos, pictures and similar.
4. Collaborate with other brands for the bigger picture
Collaboration on social media platforms brings you to the forefront of more than just your audience. It helps build reliability when someone prominent shares their name with yours. It creates a space to expand your community.
In the example below, Microsoft started a series in collaboration with NatGeo. They showcased women in STEM from all over the globe to showcase how tough it can get for women in the industry. It showed how they are breaking the stereotypes.
This initiative shows Microsoft as a brand that is more than just a tech company. It builds relatability and reliability.
5. Be accessible to community members
A big part of creating an online community is reliability. This reliability is built when you are consistently available to the members whenever they need your help.
Additionally, if your community members are not satisfied with your services, it is important to be prompt and respond to them. Social listening can help you with that. It is a process where you actively track who is talking about your brand. It can help you be a brand accessible to its community members, no matter the topic of conversation.
In the example below, you can see how Wix has a help page on Twitter. They consistently respond to people reaching out to them with questions or complaints. This helps the brand be reliable for people.
6. Share user-generated content
Similar to the previous point, social listening can also be used to share whenever customers talk about you positively.
User testimonials that come organically are your biggest advocates for new users. They speak for your brand’s efficacy without you even trying. This is exactly what you want; for your community members to start conversations about you and share it enthusiastically. When you build brand loyalty, you will see this happening easily.
In the example below, you can see how Gumroad retweets how one of its customers made $10K without hassle. No fancy video or a hefty marketing budget, a simple retweet because they paid attention to who was talking about them. The one tweet speaks volumes for their brand.
Another example here is Sephora. They often repost content from their customers creating videos or reviews on social media and attribute the credits to them as well as a shoutout. This encourages their customers to continue creating content for the brand, building a community in the process.
7. Keep up with trends but always remember relevancy
Whenever a new show comes up on Netflix, or a famous event like Cannes happens, the internet is filled with memes. It makes people laugh and share memes. But this is also a great way for brands to make shareable content.
Of course, not all brands can use memes, depending on their target audience. But, for those who can, these are great to engage your community members.
Here is an example of Shopify casually using the famous cult favorite TV show White Lotus’ meme. They even spark conversations by making them engaging and asking questions to their followers.
PS. We love sharing memes on our social media accounts too sometimes and it has always helped us connect with our audience faster.
8. Associate your brand with things your community cares about and create a safe space
A community is the most engaging when they talk about a common cause close to people’s hearts. Communities are also spaces where people find others who think like them, and this ripple effect creates a safe space.
But it is the brand’s responsibility to encourage conversations that bring people together. Understanding your brand and what it stands for will help you spark real conversations that your community cares about.
In the example here, Aerie fostered a special community through its campaigns on body positivity. They asked customers to use the tag #AerieREAL and stand firmly in the face of unrealistic beauty standards. Their hashtag is widely used to spread the message, and they consistently follow the same tone in their posts.
9. Be relatable
Your community members are human and, thus, flawlessly perfect. Therefore, to resonate with them, you must be real and relatable. Find time in your posts to create content that connects you to your community members.
It also makes your content more shareable.
In the first example, you can see Bustle talking about the Monday blues. Almost everyone can relate to this, and it is a simple post of being relatable. And it works!
In the second example, you can see HubSpot going beyond its products and services and talking to its community members about mental health. This is a meaningful discussion and makes them highly relatable and reliable. This also encourages conversations and allows community members to help each other with their advice.
10. Don’t forget to be fun
It is important to talk about causes, products, feedback, and so on. But it’s also important to have fun. Being relatable is one way to do it, or you know.. cat or dog photos? Everyone (almost) likes them, and it is endearing when brands showcase this fun side.
It increases their likeability among community members.
As you can see in the example below, the kitten in the post is as cute as a button. It is a refresher from the usual posts of seriousness throughout the internet. It offers a break from that to your community members, and they will be happy about it.
11. Be real and share your story
Stories about real people ignite real emotion among people. This, in turn, brings people closer to your brand. It could be a story about how your company started as a team of two in a garage—or even a hardship you faced earlier as a company and how you persevered.
Any real story about real people always makes a difference.
In the example below, you see a video part of a campaign from TOMS Shoes. The company started as the Founder, Blake Mycoskie, saw how hard it is for many kids in Argentina to grow up without ever wearing shoes. In line with this they started the campaign #WithoutShoes.
This encouraged many users to take a picture without shoes, tag the brand, start conversations, and help those in need in return.
12. Involve in a social cause
Communities are great for your brand, but they are also great spaces to make a difference. As a brand, when you stand up for social causes and encourage community members to participate, you show that you care.
A brand’s empathy is crucial to building a community. Because a community isn’t just about sharing pictures and answering polls, they are important aspects of building a community. But most importantly, communities are opportunities to bring people together and stand for causes of the world that matter.
In the example below, Blume stated their stance in standing up for the indigenous people and the grave crimes committed against them. They also encourage their community members to donate if possible.
13. Understand the purpose of different platforms well and use them to the fullest
Understand the platform you want to use and use it well. For example, Discord is a popular platform for web3 companies and other brands in B2C more than B2B. It caters to a younger, more tech-savvy crowd.
It is an excellent place for people to learn how to use your product, understand it and get tutorials and tips directly from you.
You can constantly engage your community members on such platforms with giveaways, everyday conversations, and polls.
If you are creating a community on Discord, remember to welcome new users with a read-me to explain the rules and guide them through the various functions of the community.
In the example below, Third Academy has a detailed welcome page that guides a new member about what to do next. It serves as an FAQ page.
14. Collaborate with people relevant to your brand and community
If you have a few followers on your social media channel, chances are they are also part of similar communities that spark their interest. When you collaborate with others relevant to your brand, you bring your brand in front of new people, which means new followers.
Collaboration also opens up business opportunities for you and new products to your community members.
In the example below, you can see GymShark’s collaboration with Nohlsen. This collaboration allows both brands to share the same space and business opportunities.
Find your people through a social media community
Social media communities help build your brand. But they also help you find passionate customers who advocate for your brand and each other. Once you create such a community, you can carry out several initiatives for them to learn from each other, provide opportunities for people on your platform and even help serve a cause.
However, to do this well, you need to be on your toes regarding social listening and to monitor online conversations.
You can achieve this with a limited capacity if you try manually.
However, if you use an AI-powered social listening tool like Radarr, you will always notice a mention of yourself online. You can consistently show up for your customers and community members. Automating such a tedious task frees up your time creating content to engage your social media community.
Book a demo with Radarr and find out how social listening is made easy.
And if you’re on your way to creating your online community, all the best. We hope you find your people!