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From Zero to Hero: Building a Community from the Ground Up
Creating a social media presence from scratch has an air of excitement to it. You login to your brand new, fresh profile. You’re ready to start posting and sharing, but there’s only one problem: You have no audience to appeal to, just a big fat 0.
Starting from scratch can be daunting, since you know in the back of your mind that it's possible no one will see your content, much less interact with it. Starting from the ground up isn’t such an easy task, but that doesn't mean it's an impossible one.
Before you start posting and sharing, it's important to start building a foundation for your profile with goals and strategies that will help guide you, and keep everyone managing social on the same page. Once they have been put into place, you'll be on your way to overcoming the challenges of building a community from the ground up.
Defining Goals for Your Social Media Presence
Before you start engaging with an audience, you have to step back and think: What’s the point of all my social media efforts? The best and worst part is that there is not one answer to this question, there’s an endless amount of options. In order to answer this question and create successful profiles, you must create goals that are relevant and helpful for your brand, and you also need to find ways to track your progress.
For instance, if one of your goals is to increase Facebook engagement in order to gain awareness for your brand, then you should track these stats on a weekly basis. You can measure engagement on the Page with likes, shares, comments, and wall posts. Again, what you track is up to you, just remember to track something consistently.
Earlier this month, Facebook released their new Page Insights. In addition to brand new metrics, a few of the older metrics have been updated. Before, there were metrics such as “Weekly Total Reach” and “People Talking About This”, which gave very little data on your Facebook profile from week to week. Now, Facebook Insights gives a more thorough method of tracking engagement on your profile with detailed information about “Page Likes,” “Post Reach” and “Engagement,” and it automatically compares the data to last week, (hopefully) showing your progress over time. Keep in mind that Facebook only keeps track of 3 months of data, so make sure to track your stats in a separate spreadsheet or tool to monitor growth over time. While we've just started experimenting with the new Facebook Insights, we are excited to learn more about our audiences and their interactions with our client's Pages.
Understanding Your Audience Online
Since you've defined goals for your social media presence, it's time to think about how you will communicate that through your online profiles. Keep in mind that for each profile, there will be a different way of meeting your goals because each audience is different. However, here are some suggestions for communicating with your audience effectively.
First off, you need to get in the mindset. Imagine talking to your brand’s target audience in an auditorium. It may sound silly to think of it that way, but the whole point of interacting with customers online is to be social, not to advertise. Once you have your audience in mind, take note of how you are talking to them and what type of content are you talking to them about. When you start thinking this way and asking questions, you are starting to form your brand’s voice and messaging. This will help you form the building blocks for your social media presence across all networks.
When considering how you are going to speak to your audience, you need to understand how they like to communicate because not all audiences are the same. Some might welcome slang, memes, emoticons and text language, while others might get turned off by it.
Next, go beyond the voice and think about the type of content that you want to be sharing with your audience. A great way to get started is to combine interests that are related to your brand, but not necessarily a blatant self-promotion. Followers come to your online profiles to interact, not to be bombarded with advertisements in their newsfeed. A great example of this would be ThinkGeek, which shares fun and relevant content to their fans while subtly promoting their own related merchandise.
By maintaining the balance between the two, you will find that your audience will be more likely to engage with your profile.
If you Build It, They Will Come
After defining your goals and learning more about your audience, keep these tips in mind while continuing to build up a social presence.
1. Be Patient
High engagement will not happen overnight. There could be days (or weeks) without a new follower or interactions, but do not get discouraged; this happens! Don’t abandon your profile and leave it looking like a ghost town. Trust me, this is sad and lonely for everyone.
2. Stay Consistent
Once you start posting, keep going! If you’re posting once a day, then make sure you’re sticking with that. You’ll start getting into the habit of posting regularly and before you know it, your brand’s voice will start coming naturally to you. Engaging with your online audience will get easier.
3. Don’t be Afraid to Experiment
If you discover that your strategies aren't working, then it might be time to reevaluate what you are doing and start experimenting. One big advantage of starting from the ground up is that you are able to try different strategies and decide how you want to communicate with your audience. Don’t be afraid to play with scheduling, content and the voice!
Creating an awesome social media presence is just like building a house. You'll want to start with a solid foundation (goals), understand who will be living in (or visiting!) your house and what they will need (audience), and finally you will have to keep building and decorating it until it thrives on its own (consistency and experimentation). With a little bit of hustle and a lot of love, your social media presence will go from zero to hero in no time!