Why Leveraging Your Community Is the Best Social Strategy
By Victoria Greene
July 19, 2018
Analytics, content, content marketing, Content Strategy, customer engagement, customer experience, Customer Journey, Customer Service, Digital Marketing, marketing, social media, social networking
Social media marketing is all the rage, and with good reason. Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest provide you with ways to connect directly with the people that matter, share your best content, build relationships, and get attention.
But even though social media targeting is an integral part of any online marketing strategy, it can be approached in numerous different ways — some more effective than others. If you really look at the long run, it’s fairly clear that the most powerful social strategy is to focus on your existing community before thinking about directly targeting anyone new.
But don’t just take my word for it. Let me you tell you exactly why leveraging your community is the best social strategy of them all.
People like to share trusted content
We’re all familiar with viral videos, and anyone in the digital field would love a chance to see a piece of their content get massive worldwide attention. It might seem like viral content pops up out of nowhere, but that’s very rarely the case — usually there’s a committed push to get it started before it snowballs and hits public awareness.
By sharing content with your enthusiastic community, you give it the best possible chance of achieving virality. People like sharing good content with their friends, and those who have a strong level of interest in your brand will be considerably more likely to like your content enough to share it. Create the right piece of content at the right time, something that’s impressive enough to have widespread appeal, and you’ll have a real chance at virality.
Brand advocates are invaluable
When you have a community of enthusiastic fans, you can use them to help you promote your business more effectively. Essentially, you can let them do the hard work for you. It takes a lot of work, time and money to reach out to new customers, so if you can offload that effort, you’ll benefit enormously.
We’ve already covered sharing great content with your customers, but you don’t have to stop there. You could launch a competition, and encourage them to not only enter but also share the competition details with their non-customer friends. Since they like your brand (and everyone loves competitions), there’s a good chance they’ll go along with it.
You could take it even further by rewarding them for their help. Give them a bonus such as 10 more entries for every friend they sign up. Little incentives are excellent and cost-effective when it comes to generating some extra buzz.
Existing customers provide great information
When you have your own community, you can find out more about what makes them tick, then use that information to attract and keep new customers. To do so, you can run surveys, send emails with questions, get involved in social media discussions, or reach out to them directly on an individual basis. You may find that your perception of the quality of your customer journey is very different from theirs.
You can also keep track of the content that resonates best with them — the blog posts that get the most shares and comments. Review your analytics to determine when they access your content, and ask them when they’re prefer your content updates to take place. The more you know about how they perceive your brand, the more meaningfully you can cater your content and business to their needs and desires.
User-generated content is cost-effective
If you can establish enough engagement within your community, you can start to bring them into your content production process. User-generated content is consistently becoming more important. It provides you with fresh and relevant content on a regular basis, and boosts engagement in the process. It’s a win-win.
To get started, reach out to the most vocal and enthusiastic members of your community through all relevant social channels, inviting people to write posts for your blog. There will invariably be people in your community interested in getting a chance to promote their own interests on a larger platform, and if your brand is powerful enough, you might even have people who want to blog for you simply because they like you.
Or why not create a podcast and invite users to join you as your guests? The hybrid podcast model of a host featuring a guest is very easy to put together, easy to sustain, and great for building community links. This is increasingly common in the marketing world — check out shows such as Copyblogger FM or Marketing Speak — and it’s easy to see why.
You could also invite members of your community to create content relating to your products or services, with the incentive of getting free samples or trials. You could simply ask for honest reviews, or ask them to create tutorials, or even get them to showcase the most significant features of your products or services. With the boost in engagement you’ll achieve along the way, whatever content you get out of the process will essentially be a bonus.
Customer loyalty is golden
So much of your success as a business will come down to the relationships you build, and when you have a community within reach, you can easily invest time in growing strong relationships with relevant and influential individuals.
Thank your community members for their comments, questions and general feedback, whether positive or negative. Make them feel special and appreciated, and perhaps send them special offers only available to members of your community. If you treat them well enough, they’ll likely want to tell others about your outstanding customer service.
You could even launch a unique loyalty program for that particular social media community, or create a private Facebook group complete with fun perks where you can get involved and spend time getting to know them.
It’s easy to sell to people who like you
It’s well-established that selling to existing customers is easier and cheaper than finding new customers. You don’t need to convince them that your brand can be trusted, or demonstrate the value of your products or services. Most of the work has already been done.
When you have an active and engaged community that make an effort to maintain, you can market directly to that audience to achieve a much greater and more cost-effective conversion rate than you could ever get from marketing to strangers.
It provides compounding growth
Your community is a powerful asset that you can nurture and grow over time. As we’ve seen, it can provide you with many opportunities to grow your business if you use it properly. And like any great asset, its value compounds and returns interest on your investment.
If your main efforts at the moment focus on getting more followers and finding new customers, try redirecting your focus to leveraging your existing community. You might just find that it does more to bolster your growth than any amount of direct outreach could.
Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on how new business owners can get their brand off the ground. She is passionate about using her experience to help fellow entrepreneurs succeed.