Why Your Number One Focus on Social Media Should Be to Build a Community
It was never really an outbound sales channel, but it sure is one big party
It might sound obvious and self-explanatory, I know. But seriously. It’s worth remembering it. Because most businesses and entrepreneurs really seem to forget this fact when they’re communicating on social media: social media is about being social. It’s about connecting with others.
I’m talking about those accounts that have large audiences but very low engagement rates. Those who have millions of Twitter followers but only two or three replies to their tweets. Those who have millions of Instagram followers but who only have 10 comments on their posts — and of course, seven of them are random emojis or any other bad and generic ‘bot comments.’ Those who have millions of likes on their Facebook page but only get a couple of likes on each post.
I think you get my point so far. And I’m sure you totally get what and who I’m talking about…
So how to get rid of that low engagement? Should these people blame it on the new algorithm? Or the new policy of the platforms, suggesting more and more to businesses to buy reach and engagement through ads? Or should they blame their editorial calendar that they don’t have the control of because their boss doesn’t want to change it?
Well, the truth is that they should blame it on themselves, and on the way they communicate on social media.
It’s all happening for only one reason: they stopped being social.
They stopped trying to create conversations, they stopped asking for their customers’ opinion, they stopped caring about their community. They stopped considering their community as a bunch of individuals. Instead, they’re considering them as a bunch of stupid clients, ready to buy everything that the brand is advertising.
Social Media Is All About Being Social
Facebook changed its mission statement last year. Now they aim to ‘bring the world closer together.’ They want human beings to interact. They want them to have conversations. Facebook’s newsfeed is also going in the same direction: they pus forward posts from family and friends, and they reduced the organic reach of Facebook Pages. Facebook Groups still get a good organic reach in the newsfeed. And that’s logical. Facebook Groups are communities — they bring people together and they encourage them to interact more.
Why did Facebook do that — for money? Because the more people who interact, the more they stay within Facebook. Because the more people stay within Facebook, the more data Facebook has on people. And the more data they have on people, the more precise the segmentation can be. And the more precise the segmentation is, the more likely companies will buy ads on their platform (because the more precise the segmentation, the more likely a targeted individual can become a client). So yes, technically for money, actually.
But we’re not here to talk about Facebook’s strategy, or to say if it’s a good or a bad thing. However, as digital marketers, we have to adapt to that new environment if we still want to drive sales or raise brand awareness on social media.
The future of social media is all about being social. Like it used to be in the first place, when we used to go on Facebook to comment on our friends’ new profile pictures or to post the 200 pictures we captured on the last trip we took. All those things that we used to do before brands started to go crazy on social media and before they decided to flood everyone’s timeline with bad communication skills and pushy messages. And before Facebook realised that they could make an actual fortune thanks to these companies.
How Can You Be Social on Social Media?
By conversing. By caring about who you’re talking to and why you’re talking to them. By asking for feedback. By asking for others’ opinions. By asking if they agree with your point of view. By asking relevant questions. The possibilities are endless.
Brands should be conversation starters. Just keep in mind that a person talking about your brand will always be considered more trustworthy than you’ll ever be. By being a conversation starter, you’re encouraging people to talk about your brand. Some will agree with your brand. Some won’t. Some will ask questions. Some will answer those questions. Some will be concerned about aspects of your brand and products. Some will reassure them. Some will just read all that but won’t talk to you or anyone else. Some will advertise your brand for free on their social media.
All of the above is what creates a community.
A community knows you. It appreciates you and it values you. And having a reactive community makes it easier for you to understand who you’re talking to. It makes it easier to realise who your brand actually reaches. It allows you to stay connected to the people who will actually buy your products and who will talk about you to new potential customers.
A community will love to get in touch with you. People love to express their opinion, and they love to feel listened to. They love to hear about your story, about your values, and about your ideas, because your community will most likely have relatable ones.
Outbound Marketing Doesn’t Work on Social Media
People don’t care about how incredible and amazing your product is, especially if it’s a product they’ve never heard of. And spamming a purchase link for this product over and over on social media won’t drive lots of sells. Believe me. And if it does, it won’t last for long. Because your brand won’t have any value.
It’s really hard to create a community. There’s a lot of competition on social media, as you may know. But not so many brands and people have truly understood the value of a community or how to create a solid one. So I’m sure you’ll know how to make yourself a spot in that jungle.
Just Think of Social Media as a Big Party
Who do you think would be considered the coolest person at the party?
The person that goes from micro-group to micro-group, listening to people, caring about them, asking them questions, reacting to the answers they get, giving their opinion and point of view, not staying with the same person too long but staying long enough? Or, the one that puts himself in the middle of the room while screaming at the top of his lungs, “I am the coolest guy at this party, please love me and give me your money!”
I’m sure that, thanks to this comparison, the answer is pretty obvious now.
For those who still think that the latter is the coolest, well, I’m sure no one at the party heard him. Nowadays, the music is so loud and people talk and scream so much that this one scream is simply considered to be part of the ambient noise.
So think again.
Do you feel like you tried everything to grow on social media and especially Instagram? Hopefully, what follows will be the last thing you will have to do to reach your goals.
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