Using social media and choosing the right online community for your business can be daunting if you are new to this form of marketing. However, you need not get intimidated and should remember that other businesses too would have started out with apprehension before building their own communities around their businesses.
The key is to firstly spot the best possible online community that suits your business and contains like-minded audience, which instantly connects with you. You need to clearly identify your values, why you are unique, what you can offer, and why your target audience including your customers should connect with you.
In other words, you need to catch the attention of the right people in order to build an online community and need to provide value to get noticed and grow that community. You need to reach out to your identified audience, build relationships, and interact with them on a common platform. You need to give feedback and expect to receive feedback, whether good or bad.
One important tip is not to choose a community merely because it sports huge numbers. You can start identifying related blogs and forums that provide and share valuable information, which in turn can help you gain knowledge too. You need to exchange meaningful information with other members in that community rather than just trying to build numbers. Your business needs to build value through these communities and even a small start can quickly lead to an interested fan base that presents opportunities in coming times.
You firstly need to identify your target market, identify industries that you wish to target, learn about your competitors, and industry blogs that you presently browse. In addition, you need to identify industry stalwarts you respect, events that you like to attend, and people or companies that you presently follow on specific social media sites. You also need to identify which social media sites are preferred by your target audience such as Facebook, Linkedln, Twitter, Google+, etc.
For instance, if you want to search for your target market in Twitter, then you can conduct a Twitter Analytics exercise by using websites such as www.followerwonk.com. You only need to type in words you feel represent your target audience to get a report that can be further filtered by location, groups, etc. You can finally get a list of people that you can follow and interact or those that can help you gain a lot of knowledge.
You can also look at the number of followers and tweets garnered by those people as well as look at the frequency at which they tweet. You should also ensure that their posts offer value and if it is indeed relevant for you, your business, and your customers. In addition, you also need to check whom these people follow as well as their own followers. You need to consider people with a large and small following, especially if they are related to your business, hold potential to bring in new people into the community, and can provide knowledge and value to your own post.
You can create an Excel sheet of people, companies, and organizations that you intend to follow so that you can keep track of your community. Your next step should be to identify quality blogs that can become virtual places to connect, share, and gain valuable knowledge with like-minded individuals and organizations. Your search should include people on social media that also have their own blogs. Furthermore, it would be a good idea to look for competitors, existing customers, vendors, and associations that may be members of such communities including those that have their blogs.
You need to find blogs that enjoy good DA or Domain Authority and you can use the SEOmoz toolbar to find blogs with good DA. Blogs with medium DA can be suitable if they have good potential and seem like good communities. Blogs that provide good and informative reading and evoke healthy responses should certainly be on your list. This should be a continuous process to ensure that you keep on expanding your circle even after you actively participate in several blogs.
You should begin with following and interacting with a limited number of people to get the hang of blogging before you expand your reach. Building an online community is an ongoing process and you will meet a lot of people that may end up contributing to the growth of your business in several desirable and undesirable ways. The trick is to keep on communicating, sharing, following, and expanding your community base over time.
Choosing the right online community to grow your business is a long and tedious process, but can also be fun and rewarding as you get knowledge, fans, and business in the journey. You will need patience and determination to participate in this exercise, but in return will be able to transform yourself and your business into an established brand name over time.