How to create an engaged online community

How to create an engaged online community

With the rise of social media, anyone can pick up a camera and post something that appeals to a certain group of people out there. One of the biggest appeals of becoming a content creator or influencer is the possibility of making a lot of money with sponsorships and affiliate marketing.

But with that being said, content creators shouldn’t approach social media with the sole purpose of monetizing their audiences as fast as possible. That kind of thinking is what gets people involved with phony tactics like buying followers or fake engagement through bots.

The power of social media lies in its ability to help you develop a close bond with any number of people around the world. So much so that they see you as a kind of friend, and prefer to use your products over someone else’s.

The best way to go about building this trust with your audience is by being open, honest, and transparent. Don't be afraid to share your personal stories or struggles with followers. People are more inclined to follow someone who they feel similar to on a personal level.

Here are some pointers to help you get the most out of your social media efforts.

  • Create attractive content
  • Use hashtags appropriately
  • Engage with other users
  • Be consistent with your posting times
  • Have an engaging profile picture
  • Consider the social media platforms that are most popular with your target audience, and then figure out what you want to achieve on them.
  • Connect with other companies in your field to establish mutually beneficial partnerships.
  • Look for accounts related to your niche that are following you and engage with their posts frequently so they'll reciprocate and potentially collaborate with you..

In this blog post, we’ll outline how you can effectively use social media to build, engage and grow a global community.

Get to know your target audience

Getting to know your target audience on a root level will help you cater your content to them so that you can retain them for as long as their tastes remain unchanged. But I understand this might sound daunting, so here are a few good questions to get the ball rolling:

  • Do they prefer to hear about any specific topic, e.g. photography?
  • What jobs do they have?
  • What hobbies do they enjoy?
  • What TV shows or books do they like?

Once you’ve got some of the answers, you can try searching for related conversations on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You'll find that people enjoy talking about themselves and sharing what they're enthusiastic about with others!

With those conversations in front of you, your next step could simply be to jump in and start posting or commenting on someone else’s post! The more you invite users to start a conversation on your posts,  the more you will begin to create a sense of "community" around your profile.

One disclaimer though: don’t forget that people are consuming your posts for their personal interests. So it is crucial to avoid any advertisements or subtle mentions to buy something from you. At least when you’re in the early stages of building your audience. Here are a few tips for how to interact with your community on posts:

  1. Express how you feel, even if it’s vulnerable. People are sick of carefully curated messages, they want the honest truth.
  2. Don't worry about being perfect; just focus on being authentic.
  3. Use the hashtags #procreatexl and #beaconblueweb, which will help with syncing posts across all social media platforms.
  4. Pay close attention to comments. Individuals may occasionally say things that are amusing or insightful that can serve as new content ideas.

Create high-quality content that is valued by your audience

While Instagram and TikTok are both visual platforms, their use cases and benefits could not be any more different. What users value most on these Instagram are images that are eye-catching. But what users want to see on TikTok are trends in the form of impressions, songs, dances and so on.

A platform like Twitter, on the other hand, is more so about originality and brevity. What users value most on Twitter is receiving unique insight into a given topic.

Now even though all of these platforms require different types of content, the core of content creation still boils down to one main practice: research. You simply cannot continually churn out fresh content on a regular basis without gathering relevant material from external sources.

These external sources can be anything from your competitors’ content, to articles, videos, podcasts and news.

If you happen to be friends with other content creators, you can work together on generating new content ideas. You know what they say, 2 heads are better than one!

Here are a few best practices for becoming a content machine:

  • The three types of content are- Informative, Inspirational and Entertaining
  • Make sure every piece of content you post is providing a clear benefit to your audience.
  • Examine each site's additional features, such as popular hashtags on Instagram or accepted image types on Facebook, to customize your content for each platform.
  • Publish at least two posts a day and track popular hashtags relevant to your niche.
  • If your content is mainly text, then add quality visuals- a picture, a video, or anything else that might assist readers in visualizing what you're talking about.
  • When adding captions to your images, keep them short and concise.
  • Develop a stronger connection between you and your audience by creating content based on personal experience.
  • If you don't speak the language in which you want to communicate in as a first language, consider having it checked by someone who can proofread it before you hit publish.

But building an engaged community on social media isn’t all about posting content either. At the core level, it’s just about providing value over the internet. And you can do that in a variety of other ways besides content. Examples of this include:

  • You can help push other people’s content too! If someone tags you in a post or uploads a photo that is interesting or delightful or noteworthy to you, then do the same by uploading it on social media with a story behind it. Share why this person's post resonated/what this person has done to catch your attention. The people who follow you will be sure to appreciate this kind of selfless promotion.
  • You can look at your followers and their loved ones to find new ways to provide value. Special occasions are easy ways to get a little bit more engagement out of your audience by offering a discount on one of your products. For example, a Christmas or Halloween sale.

Build your own brand

Brands are a type of trademark that allows a product to be differentiated from the competition.

With the rise of global consumerism, it has become near impossible to trace your purchases back along the chain so as to identify the original producer. The role of brands is not simply to provide consumers with a label of authenticity--brands tell stories and collect narratives.

A successful brand has three main components:

  1. It's memorable (so it can be easily recalled or recognized).
  2. It offers a clear promise that must be consistently fulfilled.
  3. It communicates the benefit of that promise with contagious enthusiasm and persuasion.

More than ever, we need labels of authenticity because we can't always know where our goods or services are coming from anymore--and that's why brands offer us new sources for truth and certainty in an uncertain world. Brands symbolize shared values and generate memories; they give us a feeling that we still share something special with other people around the world: humanity.

One of the most important functions that a brand provides is that it gives our decisions some clarity and predictability. And with endless options out there for consumers to choose from, brands help businesses drive more revenue in the following ways:

  • With branding, every dollar spent on advertising becomes more effective since it transmits the image or idea of the whole line of products or services simultaneously.
  • Branding also greatly accelerates customer penetration because customers are typically attracted to name-brand products over generic ones. Consumers buy them not necessarily for quality but because they want what everyone else buys.
  • Additionally, branded products will often be perceived as higher quality than unbranded products by consumers, resulting in greater sales for companies with branded products when the price is irrelevant.

You might think that all of this brand talk only applies to faceless corporations, but that could not be any further from the truth. Content creators and influencers also create brands to set themselves apart from the millions of other people posting content on social media. And you can see how that differentiation will help you further down the line when you’re ready to start selling products to your followers.

Use several platforms to maximize community growth

Marketing is a vast field with countless options for you to explore and find the perfect channel to grow your community with. But even more so than finding a large number of different channels, it's about finding which channels are most effective for your niche.

Regardless of which channels you go with, utilizing more than one channel will allow you to reach a wider audience. And while it's true that the Internet is moving more towards social media sites, there are other important channels to consider when it comes to how you attract visitors to your social media profiles in the first place. But given that there’s no one channel that is best for growing your community, you can ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your search:

  1. What kind of content will be appropriate for that particular channel?
  2. Will it integrate well with other channels or efforts you're already doing, like email marketing or SEO work.
  3. How much time can you realistically commit to maintaining a presence on that platform?
  4. Which platforms do your target audience use the most (Twitch, Instagram, Facebook, Google, Youtube, Pinterest)?
  5. What is your objective for the social media platform you're considering? Does it fit with your business goals but also as well as your audience’s natural interests?

Here are some alternative platforms that you could leverage to grow your social media following:

  • People go to Google for answers, and if your profiles aren’t included on the first page of the search engine results, then you’ll miss out on growth opportunities. That brings us to the importance of SEO, or search engine optimization.
  • Twitch is a video-streaming service in which people may view others' feeds of themselves playing video games. Streamers on Twitch frequently collaborate with one another for games since gaming is typically an individual event, and it's difficult for one person to have fans when they're just starting out. However, if both players join forces and work together, they might not feel like it's a waste of both players' time - and having two individuals play together doubles the fun!
  • You’re probably already using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But you should also look into platforms like Pinterest (particularly for visual content creators), Youtube (for just about anything, especially instructional videos) or podcasts (easy to produce).

Each of these platforms serves a distinct audience with their own content preferences, so it's important to figure out which of these you’re more likely to find your ideal followers on. And another disclaimer: Whenever you're going to share the same piece of content across several platforms, make sure it's consistent with your branding so that your followers can instantly recognize you wherever your content pops up.

To increase engagement, remain consistent

With every new viral post, it's essential that you don’t pump the brakes and call it a day. Consistency is a key to successfully positioning your brand in someone’s mind, so stay consistent at all costs. Consistency, by the way, doesn’t only refer to your posting schedule. Aside from that, consistency is also your:

  • Messaging: People look for ways they can belong to something, so if you post about the same themes every day, then you may just tap into a latent need they were searching for without even knowing it.
  • Quality: Whenever you’re thinking about increasing your production quality, you have to keep in mind that that will become the new standard against which your followers will judge your content. So it’s always better to produce at a quality level that you can sustain for the long-term, rather than trying to increase your quality level for just a few pieces of content.

At the end of the day, consistency is about becoming part of your audience’s daily content consumption habit. This way, when they wake up and check their social media, they always know what to expect: a brand new piece of high-quality content from their favorite creator.

Always pay attention to customer feedback

It's all too easy to despise feedback, but it is one of the most essential aspects of creating good content. Feedback consists of objective truths about your work that might not have been clear to you before. If you want others to take your point of view seriously, you must learn how to get adjusted to criticism.

Feedback helps you understand what makes people tick. It also allows the audience to become more invested in your content if they feel like their voice contributed to improving it in some way.

The best content creators and influencers out there recognize that their consumers are the most important aspect of their business. Therefore, they have to take their opinions seriously.

Creating and maintaining an engaged online community

Social media is all about community. And the one piece of advice we stress for creating and maintaining a successful social media community is to: developing a brand voice and staying true to it.

Be authentic, respond quickly, offer value through content and other gestures, show off what you do best, be personable with the people who reach out to you on social media channels; these are all great strategies for building relationships that will sustain your career as a content creator and influencer.