Our jobs, as communicators, are to build a community for the organizations with which we work.
Even though it’s something we have to do, it’s not exactly easy, and we sometimes treat it as just another thing on our to-do lists.
“Schedule tomorrow’s tweets.” “Interact with six people.” “Post two articles not about us.”
Those statements sound familiar because we all do it.
And, because we live in an instant gratification world, building community becomes even harder.
Not everyone understands and is willing to put in the effort required to build and hone a community.
Executives want to see return-on-investment yesterday, and marketers want to sell more products and services today.
We forget building community is about people, not numbers.
Enter social media…
Social media made it easy for marketers and communicators to build a tribe.
A loyal online community is more valuable than your latest sale.
Building community is about inspiring people to be at their best, helping them connect with others, pushing them to challenge themselves.
Yes, building community is about them, not you or your brand.
Let’s look at four simple (not easy) ways you can build a community around your brand.
Building Community by Finding Your Heroes
Your brand already has loyal ambassadors.
They are those who always share your content and answer your emails and requests.
They are always willing to participate in whatever endeavor you’re on and don’t shy away from helping out.
Go out of your way to reach out to them.
People want to know they matter for your brand.
Giving them your attention is the most valuable gift you could give your brand ambassadors.
How to Find Your Brand Ambassadors
Monitor your social media channels, emails, and even traditional mailing if your company still uses it.
See who regularly likes, comments, and shares your content. See who replies to your emails.
Make lists for each channel and make it your mission to engage with them on a daily basis.
That means thanking them for sharing your content, going to their social channels and commenting on their posts, sharing their posts.
Reply to those emails even if it’s only to say hi.
Thank them for taking the time to write to you.
Pick up the phone and call them if you have their number.
Go even further by paying attention to what they are about and connect them with other members in your community who can help them.
Be honest, be genuine, and show you care.
That’s how you find yours and build a relationship with your loyal tribe.
Put Them in the Spotlight
Now that you know who your most loyal fans are, it’s time to bring them into the spotlight.
Showcase them, give them opportunities to share their ideas.
Help them be your hero.
How to Do That
You can do that by featuring them in your content. We do this with The Big Question.
Or you can interview them, as we do with the PR Dream Team every month.
Publish those interviews on your website and share them on your social channels.
Send them to your mailing list.
Do everything you can to tell the world about the wonderful fans you have.
Make Yourself Accessible
Building a community is about making yourself accessible to them.
Your community needs to know they can reach you—not your brand’s logo.
People connect with people first and then they fall in love with brands.
How to Do That
Answer their questions.
Set weekly or monthly calls or do live video on Facebook or Instagram.
Peg Fitzpatrick does this very well with “Thanks a latte Q&A.”
Every Friday, she holds a Q&A session with her community on Facebook.
She makes herself available to them, answers their questions, and gives them useful tips for their businesses.
What’s the best way you can talk with your community?
Would a Facebook live work for you?
It doesn’t have to be your CEO who shows up on those Q&A sessions.
It can be you, the person behind the social channels, or someone in your PR department.
The idea is to choose someone from your organization.
You cannot outsource this.
Connect with Your Tribe
The key to building community is always, always, always be thinking how you can help your tribe.
What can you do to make them successful?
Make connections, go out of your way to help them.
And, most importantly, don’t expect anything in return.
If you start with this mindset, building a community of loyal fans, it’s simple.
You still have to put in the work, and it’s not an overnight thing.
But it’s worth every minute.
You may wonder why building your tribe is so important.
It’s clear it’s not easy and it takes years to have some semblance of success.
It involves a lot of work and a lot of hours in your day.
And we all know you have a long to-do list.
Besides you have to show return-on-investment, you have to sell products or services.
Who has time for that?
The answer is pretty simple: You.
You have time for all that and more.
When you find those loyal fans, build a relationship, and nurture those relationships, something wonderful happens.
Your fans spread the word about your brand.
They convert others to loyal fans. They become you, multiplied.
And then, one day, your community becomes more than you or your brand.
It becomes the place where your fans gather to feel safe and validated, to help each other, and to be part of something bigger than themselves.
They invest their time and money in your brand; they support you for who you are and the good you put into the world.
Now my question to you is, why wouldn’t you want to be part of that?
Why wouldn’t you want to build your tribe?