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Crash course in social media marketing for small businesses: Part 2 of 3 – Community Building

Building an Online Community

In part 1 of the series, we discussed how to establish goals for your company brand and how to measure the value of your branding and public awareness efforts through social media. Here is the second facet of social media marketing:

Community building: (growing an audience of advocates for your product or content to serve as a natural marketing extension of your brand)

What you need to look at: increasing the number of intimate fans, followers, friends or readers through listening, engaging and consistently creating original content through blogging and with multimedia.

When I say intimate, I mean a personal relationship. It’s awesome to have numbers in the hundreds of thousands, but does that mean anything if you don’t have a relationship with those people? Close relationships with a few people are more valuable then loose relationships with many. Being personal increases the number of longtime users and advocates of the brand, which are the numbers you really want to pay attention to.

How: listen, learn, engage, and create original content consistently. These steps will help you build a community because your audience wants to be heard, it yearns for human interaction and craves new content. Monitor the community using a free twitter app such as TweetDeck to track mentions and be able to respond in real time to inquiries about your brand.

Measure your community building efforts by graphing increases and decreases in following, tally email list names, RSS subscribers and measure conversion rates for your site (the number of casual visits to a website compared to the number of those people who buy a product or make a similar action). Also keep track of interactions, types of engagement and their outcome online. This is a good step toward understanding your audience and giving them what they want.

Some companies hire a community manager who can handle social media efforts and community building online. This is a good idea if you’d like a person (or a team) in charge of your online community building efforts through social media. It’s important to have someone who is friendly, personable and knowledgeable to represent your brand and show off its human side.

Having a community online is an important aspect of social media marketing because it is where all your key messages will be delivered—and no one wants to make a speech in an empty room.

On Friday, we’ll be talking about the importance of customer service online in part 3—see you then!

If you liked this post, you may also enjoy: 6 tips on building an online community you can do right NOW.

About Cision Contributor

This post was written by a guest Cision contributor.

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