Building an online Community – What questions to ask

Last week I talked a lot about social strategy.  The bottom line is your working to develop a strategy that engages an online community and essentially helps to build you, your brand and/or message.

So what does that mean ? Essentially, you want to grow a following of relevant, interested people.

But here is the essential question:  How do you build an online community?

It’s not as simple as just positing on any social media stream and people following you.  That’s a one dimensional approach of community building.

Thinking of your brand, you want to develop a community of individuals who trust in your expertise, and/or product.  You want people that are following who are authentically interested in what you have to share.

As a next step, you then have to consider the many different social networks and identify what makes it unique, matched with what your message or product is and why or why not is it a good fit for budding a community.

Lastly, what’s your objective ? Is it to generate sales, share a message, educate? This is going to drive your content.

So here is the simple break down

1) What’s your brand

2) What’s your objective

3) Who’s your demographic

4) Where are they

5) Why are they there

6) What type of posts and interaction will you use to dialogue

What is Your Community Building Philosophy and Approach? How is it connected to your social strategy and your business goals.

The best way to explain this is to give an example:

A local CSA farm might consider their philosophy is to share about educating their community on how to cook with all the bounty of the summer and fall.  There are so many unique things that a CSA farm can share, providing a way to utilize the product so that customers are getting the full potential out of their purchase would be key !

Identify unique ways to engage with your community online and juxtapose that with offline events as well. Consider why is your community where it is ? Are they seeking information? do they want to buy? are they romanticizing how to do something. … PSYCHOLOGY 101 Peeps – don’t underestimate this !!!

That same local CSA farm could participate at a local farmers market, or trade show, thus not just engaging in their followers, but connecting with new community members.

When events or communications are shared, it will be important to monitor your social feeds closely to take advantage of opportunities and find individuals that are loyal to your brand.

Simply put, you have to NUTURE your efforts, take time to build relationships, understand why people are there, provide value, and consistently engage to develop.



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