Have you ever noticed how certain fan pages, groups, tweeps, Pinterest boards or pages on Google+ always seem to have a buzz about them?
These pages always seem to have a wealth of followers commenting, sharing, talking to each other, asking questions and posting successes. While on other pages, the energy feels dead, like a ghost town?
The reason behind this is because some users inherently know how to foster community on their social media platforms, while others do not.
So, it begs the following questions, what is a social media community and why do I want one?
First, let's start by defining a social media community. Community, on social media, is about far more than receiving a lot of comments, likes and shares on your posts. A high volume of comments does NOT indicate a community. A community goes far beyond volume or numbers.
For example, many popular business magazine fan pages are NOT communities. Certainly, the magazine has a large readership, which translates into an active social media fan base, but this does not make it a community. Even with dozens to hundreds of comments underneath each post, it is lacking the key ingredients of a community.
If you read through the comments on their page, you will notice that they are all singular. There are no followers reacting to another follower's comment. There is no engaging "side-conversation," going on, there are no questions being asked and no deep revelations being shared: Thus, no community.
By contrast, I also enjoy visiting a very popular fitness fan page on facebook. They too, have a lot of fans and a ton of comments under each post. However, the comments here are different. The fans directly engage with one another by responding to each other's posts. They ask questions of each other, share successes and cheer each other on. This is a true social media community.
Thus, a social media community is the act of sharing a common mission or purpose.
When you build a community you are building a sense of belonging. It is a place where your members (whether formal or informal) know they can come to connect with you and each other. They like connecting with each other because they feel like a welcomed member of the tribe or family. They are making new friends and building a greater foundation of support for themselves.
Why do you want to build a community on your social media platforms?
You want to build a sense of community on your social media platforms for three reasons.
First, your community will look out for you, each other and new members of the pack. Certainly, building a community takes time and effort. But, once it is established you don't have to be such a huge presence in the community. You can begin to delegate responsibilities to other long-standing members. You can create a welcoming committee and a daily conversation starter.
This doesn't mean that you are never there. In fact, as your community grows, you will need to maintain a firm hand, like a mother with a child who is testing the limits. The same will happen in your community. It may even mean deleting comments and privately messaging fans. However, like a child who's tested the limits, as soon as they see you are true to your word, their "tests" become less frequent. Moreover, the rest of the community will begin to step in and shut down anyone who is breaking a rule of the group.
Second, social media community creates greater opportunities for connection and growth. The members who are apart of your community will feel connected to you and to many others in the group. This is important because members will recognize that it was your community that brought them together. They will reference you, and talk about you when they get together. This collectively keeps them in your sphere, working with you and buying your products. (Of course, it also means that your products and services must be worth bragging about!)
Likewise, members will experience growth within your community because of things you share AND because of things other members share. Again, the environment that you've created, the collective, has a stronger impact than you alone.
Third, clients and customers crave experiences more than things. By creating a community you are providing an active, fluid experience. It is an experience they can partake in on a daily bases, or even more frequently if they want to.
This opportunity allows them to feel closer to their mission or purpose. It fills them with energy and helps them move forward towards their dreams. Your community becomes an indispensible part of their life expansion.
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