Posted by Kristin Dziadul | July 7, 2015
As the saying goes, “You must learn to walk before you can run.” When it comes to a company getting up and running on social media (or any other community platform for that matter) most don’t want to learn to walk first — they’re shooting for an all-out sprint. Faced with tight budgets, limited time and never-ending to-do lists, we’re seeing time and again marketing teams putting in the minimal amount of time on community platforms like Twitter, hoping to build a truly great online community.
To mistake the time and care needed to really build and nurture a meaningful, long-lasting community of your biggest supporters is a failure on a number of levels. Teams that do not understand the power of community can be caught using an excuse similar to this one: “But I only have 100 followers on Twitter so far and it’s not growing as fast as we hoped, so why would we want to focus our marketing efforts and dollars on tweeting?” Face palm.
Head on over to their Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+ account and you’ll see sporadic, self-promotional and downright lazy posts. Haphazardly posting like this is like telling your early followers — your very first fans — that you just don’t care. So why would they want to keep following you? Would you keep following a brand that treated you that way? Didn’t think so.
Herein lies the core of the problem. That group of 100 people are your best advocates, the ring leaders of your community, your early adopters. These are the 100 people that you need to focus 100% of your effort on. Because those first 100 followers will turn into 200 which turns to 1,000, then 5,000 and so on. So while 100 (or whatever number you’re hung up on) may seem small, it’s where you start. It’s where we all start — and where we grow.
In his 2009 TED talk, Seth Godin taps into this life long idea of “tribes”, in the talk “The Tribes We Lead”. These “tribes” are groups of people who share the same niche (or not so niche) interests as you do. These are the 100 people that went out of their way follow you on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and/or Google+ — the very ones you may not be giving due attention to. But think about it: these are the 100 people you need to focus as much of your effort on as possible! Connecting with your tribe and giving them the content that they want will over time turn them into your biggest brand advocates. That’s the win we’re all striving for! Your tribe will fight for your company and product until the end of time because you have taken the time to provide them with valuable and insightful content that they trust.
So how do you take the time to build your tribe and nurture those followers? Here are four actionable, attainable tips for you:
1. Selective Monitoring
Create private lists on Twitter to easily keep track of what your most engaged followers, influencers, and other tribe members are tweeting about. Then, when the right opportunity strikes, respond to what they are saying. Are they having a bad day? How can you make it better — even on a personal level? Is it a humorous, uplifting tweet reply? Is it a flower delivery to their office? Did they just say they’re craving a Starbucks latte to get them through today’s product launch? Send them a $5 digital gift card to go get one! People will without a doubt feel special if a genuine brand responds to some of their tweets with care. This simple, but highly effective practice, is an easy way to show your community that you truly care.
2. (Really) Spot-On Content
We all know and read about how great content matters. But what does that really mean for your brand? There are a number of ways, but one of the easiest and most logical is to create content that people will expect. Are there a few key themes your tribe really cares about professionally and/or personally? Craft content around those topics on a regular basis. For example, create a weekly content series on your blog published every Friday that provides one easy-to-implement yet unique tactic that your audience will truly appreciate. Each week, they will come to expect this content, in turn putting trust in you to help them become better people, better marketers. We’ve also found that by doing this, your brand’s tribe will feel more inclined to engage with that content as they wait for it, just like people can’t wait for Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s History of Rap segments.
3. Get to Know Them
Find out what your followers likes and interests are. For example, if you are a food brand but also know your followers enjoy DIY hacks, provide your followers with these specific DIY food tips, such as how to utilize cauliflower in new ways. Over time they will look to your social channels as an all-in-one news source and they will see you as a community thought leader.
4. Love Them
Emotion lies at the heart of everything we as humans do. So just as you treat your family, friends and acquaintances with respect, care, and attention, do the same for you tribe that has committed to promote you, follow you, and recommend you. Acknowledge them. But we’re not just talking a with branded t-shirt giveaway or 1 month free of your product. If someone shares a photo of themselves using your product or something that relates to your brand, share it! Show them you appreciate how they’re using your product in their lives and demonstrate to your following how it can be done. This is a great tactic that many brands do on both Twitter and Instagram, among other platforms. Over time, your followers will see that you are sharing other people’s content when they tweet or post to Instagram about you and will be more inclined to do the same.
By implementing these four tips, your 100 followers will feel cared for and recognized, and as a result will be far more likely to share your content, recommend you, and in turn help you grow your following from 100 people, to 1,000 people, 5,000 and beyond. We all begin from the same level playing field when creating a community, so our biggest piece of advice to you is never feel discouraged in the early days — feel thankful for what you have now and focus on anything and everything you can do to multiply that following — and in a meaningful manner.