The key thing about community relationships is that the more you communicate with them in a useful, honest, and direct manner, the more trust you will build. And the more trust that you build, the larger the community will become.
The people in your community are prospects who, given time, can become customers. The way to communicate with your community is to keep content coming regularly without driving them away.
Communication Isn’t a One-Way Street
Communication takes at least two people; the person delivering the message and the person receiving the message. When it comes to online relationship building, both parties can trade in their roles, but it always takes two-way interactions – not just broadcast delivery. The way to ensure that you remember that is to always respond to comments, and seek ways to interact with your audience.
Have Real Conversations with Your Community
Letting go of your agenda (to make sales) and entering into free conversations with your readers on your blog or social media is important. Strategically you’ll want to try to keep these conversations public so that others can benefit. Remember, this conversation is not only useful to the person you’re talking to, but also to the people reading. It’s also good for SEO to have more user generated content.
Personalize Communication to Help Them Feel Special
Personalization via email marketing is simple because you can set up automation to help with that. And you should, because it works. Personalization in communication on social media is a little harder because you’re going to have to ensure that you get their name, and respond to them in a personal way. Using their name and when possible tagging them so they will see your response will help.
Show Your Fans Behind-the-Scenes Information
Outside of calling out people by name, another way you can endear your community to you is to give them some personal insight into your business behind the scenes. If you’ve failed at something, or didn’t do something as well as you wanted, say so. If you have already written a blog post about something they are asking about, answer them, but link to that old post too. When they see the effort you’re taking for them, it will build a lot of trust.
Ask for Audience Participation
You can ask your audience to upload images, memes and even videos around the topic in question.
Plan a Competition in Your Community
Depending on what you’re promoting, you can plan different types of competitions. For example, if you’re building a Facebook Group, you can offer random prizes to members who bring in more appropriate members to the group by using a tagging system so that you know when your group is shared. In addition, you can give out random gifts for shares.
Host a Q&A session on Facebook, Google Hangout, or Some Other Method
Q&A’s are very popular and ways to build camaraderie with your community. They are fun too. You can use many free software programs to do it such as Google Hangout on Air, or you can use paid webinar software like GoToWebinar.com and even charge a small fee to cover costs and control how many people show up. This is a great way to prime your community and weed out customers from prospects – not to mention add them to a mailing list.
Automate Carefully by Planning Both Scheduled Content and Live Content
Pushing blog posts to your social networks is great, but that will only go so far if you’re not doing it in a personalized way. Automation is useful but if it looks automated (because you don’t include an interesting blurb or quote from the content you’re sharing, or answer and respond to comments on the social media), your chances to build community will be scarce.
Remember that building community means having more prospects and more customers. But, you’ll need a wide range of content types in order to do it. Every time you post something on social media, it’s content. Every time you post an article on your blog, it’s content. Content is everywhere, and it should be.