4 Reasons Why Brilliant Communities Are More Valuable than Your Social Media Strategy

Ever feel like you’re just going through the motions with your social media strategy?4 Reasons Why Brilliant Communities Are More Valuable than Your Social Media Strategy

You aren’t alone. Marketers are finally understanding the bigger picture: how many ‘likes’ you get doesn’t necessarily translate to more sales. As a result, savvy social media strategists are measuring engagement metrics—how often their audience members interact with posted content and each other through their channels.

But when it comes to Facebook and Twitter, you’re still presented with some pretty clear obstacles. How do you encourage more visits to your page? Even if you get visitors, how long will they stay before something else draws them away? Will users who engage with a status update or other piece of content continue to discuss after an initial post?

Social Networks have an Identity Challenge

Social networks have an identity problem. Audience motivations and perspectives don’t always align with the expectations of a brand.

Online communities, on the other hand, arrange themselves around clearly defined goals, messaging and values. Imagine what a brilliant online niche community offers to the business trying to reach a clearly defined audience. Filter out the white noise and engage your target audience directly.

How is an Online Community Different from a Social Network?

In general, social networks make use of real-world relationships, visualizing how people map their personal connections. They don’t necessary hone in on a specific topic, interest or goal.

Online communities like LitReactor (for writers and avid readers) and Built In Chicago (for Chicago-based tech professionals and entrepreneurs) focus discussion around shared interests, regardless of previous personal interactions.

They occur both on B2B and B2C levels and span the gamut from professional interests to hobbies to like-minded group goals.

Consider the following four reasons a brilliant online community has more potential than your current social networking strategy:

1. Actual stakeholders willingly identify themselves.

There’s a mess of data on social networks. How do you sift through it to find your audience? Shouldn’t it be simpler?

Engaging the right online community ensures a prime selection of audience members—actual stakeholders who may be tied up in the topic on personal or professional levels. These are your key influencers—audience members with the potential to become brand evangelists or major customers. Within the walls of the community you’ll find a treasure-trove of behavioral and personal data.

2. Limit distractions and white noise.

Facebook feeds constantly update, cluttering your target’s attention with information that may or may not be related. You could be competing with a best friend, a comedian, a musician or another brand for that attention.

In most cases, a community newsfeed won’t update as rapidly. You know exactly why your audience visits: to network and converse around the community’s interest. Distractions are limited to content that doesn’t take your audience out of the mindset that makes them receptive to your brand.

3. Participate in targeted, unadulterated discussion.

An online community evens the score. It’s a venue where brands and customers can talk to each other on a personal level. With the support of the community, members are more likely to offer honest feedback. They feel protected by other members and expect fair treatment.

You have a clear opportunity to build a personal connection between your brand and your audience members. Inside an online community, you can engage on a more effective level around targeted content.

4. Members get a say.

The conversations aren’t the only pieces of content shaped by community members; in a strong community, members can shape the site as a whole. As a result, members have a stronger connection to the online community brand. Earn their trust, and your brand can enjoy insider status, too.

If you can’t find the right online community for your audience, you have an opportunity to create one. All it takes is putting the right communication tools in place and getting the word out.

Before deciding to build a community under the umbrella of your brand, consider the alternative. A brilliant community that represents the interests of your brand without explicit sponsorship means a level playing field and a true opportunity to engage with your audience.

Guest Author: Michael Silverman – In addition to founding and leading Chicago-based Duo Consulting, Michael Silverman has headed up a number of online community development projects for 15 years. He just launched the book on online communities, Capturing Community: How to Build, Manage and Market Your Online Community.

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Image By Jon McGovern

Comments

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Thanks for the question
    The author will have more details but he is referring to online communities that can be either public or private set up by companies especially in the B2B sector that are not part of ant general social network platform..

  • http://www.tomorrow-people.com/blog Sookie Shuen

    As a community manager, it’s always good to have a small number of quality people being involved in the community rather than a large audience with not much interest or whatsoever. Thanks for the tips! :)

    Sookie

  • http://twitter.com/ToolMonks ToolMonks

    There are no truer words! Too often marketers/corporate heads put so much stock into numbers of likes/fans/whatever and none into the actual interaction. Whenever I hire someone to do social media, I always look at their numbers vs amount of interaction…and that right there tells me what that person can actually do.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Focus is vital and it remains at the core of almost any success online. Thanks for all those community sites Michael for readers to check out..

  • http://www.ginacarr.com/ Gina Carr

    Excellent post. I’m a big believer in online communities. I prefer to host mine on Facebook as a group. Although there are distractions, I find that they are very interactive.

  • Jake Parent

    So true. One of the toughest parts about building online communities is the lack of a real human connection in online interactions. One way to get past that is by using tools like video. But it’s a big challenge waiting to be solved!

  • http://www.jeromepineau.com/ JeromePineau

    Owned community should almost always be part of a social strategy. SAP and Autodesk are clear playbooks on that one IMHO.