Has anyone out there not heard of social media? No? I didn’t think so. Unless you’ve been in hiding for a decade, it’s a safe to assume someone has at least mentioned a social media community. So what’s all the buzz about? Well, Inbound Marketing University explains how businesses can integrate social media communities and marketing in its third online class “Social Media and Building Community.” Let’s explore what they had to say.
For starters, how can a business handle reaching out to a community through online social media? After all, it wants to bring awareness to their business and the opportunities it offers, but it also wants to make people feel comfortable. Community members don’t necessarily want to feel like they are constantly being sold products or services. Sometimes, they just want to interact with other members who share a common interest. Creating this perfect balance can be tricky, but never fear! Inbound Marketing has provided businesses with some things to think about.
Community is a privilege for business. If people form a community around a business, that’s great! It has something to work with and respond to. It should be thankful and humble, and the company can better articulate this on the site to its members.
Make the community about its people. Keep in mind that communities are ultimately about people. Without them, communities wouldn’t exist! This means if a business wants to sell or promote a product here, it must please their members first. There are a few things that can be done to accommodate them. A business should go to the platform its customers are using. It doesn’t matter if one type of online social media works best for the company, because the audience will not go there if they use some other site. Another thing a company can do to show that it cares about its people is create content that is relevant and interesting for its users but does not promote itself. A business should also ask members about their relevant goals and hopes, determine what they want out of the community and their products, and talk about any success the members have created for the business. These simple practices let the company’s community members know they matter, and those happy community members can turn into buyers.
When endorsing products, it should go hand-in-hand with relationships. Once a company introduces a product it should encourage interaction to occur along with it. For instance, by telling people to “Ask your doctor about our product!” the social media site creates a conversation about the product with another person who isn’t affiliated with the company (product endorsement+interaction). Companies must be careful though. They should be explicit about when they are selling and when they aren’t. No one wants to pay for something they thought was free, and more importantly, they won’t return after feeling like they’d been duped.
Following these guidelines will help businesses keep both community members/consumers happy and promote the products. It’s a delicate craft, but maintaining a community, in the end, can be extremely rewarding.
Want Katie to give you more information on social media and communities? Make a comment and she’ll be more than happy to answer your questions!