Who’s your target market? Whoever it is, more than likely there hanging out in a social media community. Hey, it’s about being social!
In “A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive” authors Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt define a social media community as:
… a group of Internet users with a passion for a brand or a cause, or who, at the very least, are bonded by a common purpose and bolstered by companionship. The best online communities leverage existing success, develop further trust, build exponentially more human relationships with existing and potential customers, and then exceed expectations.*
The big word there is TRUST. Without trust, people are not going to buy your product or service.
How do you find communities?
First, you need know which networks have their own internal communities.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn Groups have been around for a few years and some groups have thousands of members. You can find both industry or geographic specific groups as well as special interests. There are public and private groups. Private groups have an owner and/or moderator who has to approve all the new members and all posts. You have to respect their rules or they’ll kick you out. Public groups are open to anyone and depend on its members to police and report spammers (those who post inappropriate, self-centered content).
The idea is to participate and get noticed. Start discussions, comment on those that are there. You no longer have to mind your own business. Feel free to add your 2-cents worth. But remember it’s about sharing NOT selling! Start pitching your stuff directly and you’ll get flagged and kicked out. It’s a “selfish exchange of knowledge”*.
Google+: Google+ is a bit younger than LinkedIn and their communities are even newer. However, they’re catching on fast. Some have thousands of active users. They work the same as LinkedIn Groups. There are both public and private communities for just about every interest and industry out there. As well as local groups.
You have to define your target market then do a little research and searching to find the communities. Don’t forget peer groups and strategic partners. Who can send you referrals? How do you keep up with industry news?
You can also start your own group or community on these networks. But be aware, it’s going to take a little work.
Those that start a community to push a message or rebuild their reputation fail. Those that attempt an online community just to broadcast at the members fail. Every time. Your community must be built on a common purpose and fostered through mutually beneficial communication.*
Facebook also has groups, both private and public.
Finding and creating communities on Twitter and Pinterest.
How do you find a community when the network doesn’t have a “group” feature? Hashtags. One of my clients, The Developmental Garden, wants to reach parents with autistic kids. Using #Autism, they found huge communities on Twitter and Pinterest. The same thing happened for another client, Buckaroo Buckeye, who wants to reach #homeschooling parents. If you consistently use hashtags in your tweets and pins, when someone clicks on it, all your posts and pins with that hashtag will come up. (Related: What is a Hashtag and how do I use it in Social Media Marketing?)
A community, in what remains a sometimes cynical, what’s-in-it-for-me world, brings people together.*
You can automate the “media” but you can’t automate the “social”. If you want social media to work for you, you have to put in the time and learn how to it properly!
*Source: COINÉ, Ted (2014-09-17). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt to Survive