How to Build Community on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
For small to mid-sized businesses, approaching branding with focus and planning means you get the most out of your marketing outreach. Social media, while critical in small business marketing, often eats up budget, time, and energy if not properly understood, managed, and reigned in.
Organic vs Paid Reach
Take the behemoth: Facebook. Their system created a great relationship that united consumers and businesses—and then systematically dismantled the relationship as a means to monetize that connection. Since being allowed to create Facebook Pages, businesses have tolerated dysfunctional fanbots, limited organic reach despite paying for fans, and many other headaches.
Business owners often grumble then pay to get their content in front of more people. Although there are definitely times to use paid marketing, for most small business branding campaigns, the value of social media is not lead generation—something you can and should pay for—but creating passion about the positive impact you are having on the community, the business world, and your customers, as well as your distinguishing qualities within your industry.
Many small businesses discover that by paying for Facebook ads to grow their numbers, they inadvertently lose organic reach. Their existing loyal customer base no longer sees them.
A year ago today, we reported on the true efficacy that Facebook pages were having. And it’s no secret that I’m not a fan of the platform—for a variety of reasons—but in this context because for businesses, it’s a bit like snake oil.
Paid vs. Organic is a debate that can only be answered on a case-specific basis. For example, many businesses use paid social media advertisements to drive specific product funnels, but will not touch paid advertisements for their social media brand. This is one of the areas where many businesses hire a professional marketing strategist: They stay on top of what is currently working in social media so you don’t have to.
There are many ways that small businesses can create a wider community to drive their brand and business online, including:
While Facebook Pages get dinged for not paying for advertisements, Facebook Groups are great places to reach out to your customers and fans on a personal basis. The posts show up in people’s newsfeeds with much more regularity. Plus, friend’s posts to a group show up in member’s notifications. Therefore, many businesses are using Facebook Groups—either in conjunction with or instead of Facebook Pages—to drive community, inform their prospects and customers about their unique business solutions, and create value as a part of their brand.
For certain businesses, a Twitter discussion is extremely valuable for creating a valuable and easily identified brand. A Twitter discussion is a series of questions from the sponsoring account. People answer questions and interact with each other using a hashtag identifying their discussion.
For example, on Tuesdays, a group of entrepreneurs and small business people host AXSChat, a community building discussion, which helps build a network among smaller brands.
By allowing recording to YouTube, Google+ can be a great way to build recognition of your brand and business. You can use webinars, or just meet face-to-face with a long-distance client. In this way, you create value that is often lacking in online business systems or over the phone. Publishing your Hangouts to YouTube allows potential customers and fans alike to engage with your brand in a more personal way.
Do Your Homework
Check out successful social media campaigns so you don’t lose your way. We recommend scanning through 50 Social Media Case Studies You Should Bookmark, which will give you examples for each social platform, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.
If you want help creating valuable community and driving leads to your brand through proper social media marketing, please feel free to connect with us.