How do you build a strong community from scratch?
When we think about intelligently growing a community, often the flashier tactics pop up first. However, to grow a user base that is nurtured over time, takes several steps. Lylli Dupere has been building internet communities since the advent of Neopets. She became even more aware of the power of community once MySpace launched and quickly grew her following to the thousands. Ultimately, MySpace began to lose steam and collapsed and this is when Dupere learned the importance of diversifying platforms and branched out to Tumblr and Twitter. This put her in a unique position in 2012 when brands and corporations were just starting to realize the power of social media to land a job for a major brand. This gave her the chance to experiment with social media and sort through so much more data than she had previously had access to and the ability to hone her craft into a stunning decade long career. Dupere sat down to discuss several effective strategies for growing a community.
Here are seven ways to grow your communities from the ground up.
1) Develop A Target Audience
When choosing to build up your community on social media, figure out who your target audience is and it can’t be everyone. The demographics that you’re targeting will impact the platforms that you move forward on, after all, and focusing on a platform that your target audience is not active on is definitely not the most productive social media strategy.
2) Diversify Your Platforms
Once you’ve figured out your target audience, the next step that you will need to focus on is which platforms you’ll use and what type of content you’ll be creating. You’ll also need to make sure that you have enough resources to manage that platform effectively. For example, if you choose to go with TikTok, you’ll need to make sure you have someone proficient in video editing whereas if you move forward developing a community on a Discord server or Reddit subreddit, you’ll need to make sure you have a dedicated team of moderators that can keep out toxic members and content as the community continues to grow and allow new members to feel welcome.
3) Put A Brake On The Ads
Even if you’re a brand trying to make sales, not every piece of content should be an advertisement. You want to build brand and consumer loyalty and no one wants to be advertised to 24/7.
4) Grow A Useful Newsletter or Blog
Communication is key. If you provide a service make sure you have a newsletter or a blog that will alert the user base of any new features or upcoming changes. No one likes change, but it will be a lot less jarring for your community if they aren’t kept in the dark and then they can prepare themselves to adapt to any upcoming changes. This notification also you, as a brand, to open a channel of communication with the user base and receive feedback on any upcoming changes.
5) Keep Track Of Your Analytics
Data is everything. Monitoring your social media analytics allows you to do a deep dive into what your followers actually like best. While it’s tempting to try to recreate viral content, it’s important to verify if it’s actually resonating with people or if they’re just resharing it and moving on. You’ll often see viral tweets on accounts with very low follower counts and very little gain resulting from thousands of retweets. You may create different types of content that do end up going viral but virality does not always determine or correlate to strong community growth.
Instagram insights will even provide you with what times your followers are most active allowing you to deduce the best times to post on Instagram.
6) Monitor Your Brand Mentions
Another excellent way to research your consumer base is to monitor brand mentions, even when you’re not directly tagged in them. Twitter Search actually has great search operators to make this really easy to do. For example you can search “BRANDNAME -from:YOURTWITTERHANDLE” and the minus action will exclude anything that has been sent from your company twitter directly and only show what your community is saying about your brand.
7) Schedule Out Your Content
Being able to plan your content accordingly and schedule it so that it goes automatically is a powerful tool, but it also comes with one big drawback, you need to be very vigilant about what’s going on in the news where your customer base is active and be ready to pause all scheduled content at a moment’s notice to avoid any faux-pas.
How are you growing your community? By taking the time to research your demographics, schedule out content and focus on meaningful interactions, your community will grow naturally.
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