You don’t need me to tell you how important social media is to your business.
No matter what industry you’re in, having a social media presence of some kind is crucial for growing your business and giving your customers and clients somewhere to communicate with you.
Social media is an ever-changing beast though, and one of the biggest progressions it’s made in the last few years is turning to a focus on communities.
Rather than just seeing news content, social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest look to encourage people to join and interact with communities as well as their friends and family.
These communities are often built around common-interest groups or internet personalities — providing a constant stream of content to engage with.
How can these communities be used as an asset to your business though? What value do they offer, and what does interacting with them look like?
They offer huge lead-generation potential
Social media is one of the best lead generation tools around.
Whether it’s free posting or paid advertisements, social media gets your content and website a huge amount of engagement and traffic, becoming one of the most common ways new customers find brands, products and concepts they want to invest in.
Social media communities take this idea a step further, allowing brands to distill engagement to an even greater extent and convert a higher concentration of the traffic they get.
Social media platforms have become perhaps the best sales channels in the world. Whether it’s monetizing your channel as part of the YouTube partners program or getting sponsored to feature particular songs in your TikTok video, there are more ways than ever before to turn social content into a money maker.
A huge part of that is picking the right channel where you can interact with engaged communities and build your brand targeting a better quality of traffic. Rather than throwing posts out into the wilderness of a Facebook feed, you’re making selective choices and catering to hyper-engaged audiences with your content.
Of course, once you’ve harbored a loyal following, you may even decide to take things one step further. By using a web scraping API, you can automatically extract all sorts of valuable data from your chosen social media platforms.
For instance, you may set your scraper to collect any tweets that contain your brand’s specific keyword or hashtag — this data can then be used for sentiment analysis. Manually processing all of this data could take hours, but scrapers guarantee speed and accuracy.
And if you’re looking to scope out your rival’s social media channels, web scrapers are perfectly suited for competitor analysis, too.
As you use these communities to get your brand values and name out there you make your business a more heavily considered option in consumers’ eyes. It’s not just that social media communities help you get the sale then and there — they engrain you in their thinking and conversations.
Not only is this often the most cost-effective method of generating leads through social media, but each lead is more valuable and likely to lead to repeat purchases and recommendations.
They can build another side to your brand
Businesses need to be complex beasts these days.
Brand culture has transformed the requirements of your traditional business. No longer can they be faceless companies pumping out products and services without a distinct message or culture. Suddenly, everyone needs to be Coca-Cola.
While traditional creative video and social content campaigns are part of this - partaking in social media communities does more to build multiple sides to your brand.
While you no doubt have a strong brand message and active brand advocates (whether internal or influencer) - it’s important to make yours accessible to as wide an audience as possible.
These communities are not just a proving ground for potential brand messages, ideals and content ideas, but an opportunity to communicate with sub-cultures, fans and industry professionals in a more casual manner — giving your brand more personality.
While more ‘professional’ content certainly plays well on social media and has a passionate audience waiting for it, it’s important to learn from brands that are commuting with fan bases and social communities in their language and putting prominence on building their business as one full of genuine people through the use of social groups.
They can establish you as a thought leader
The concept of ‘thought leaders’ has been around for a while - particularly as digital trends started to pick up and industry experts were needed to explain them in layman’s terms to budding tech entrepreneurs and existing businesses alike.
Today though, they exist as one of the best ways of a smaller business giving themselves a foothold in competitive markets.
Rather than focusing on products and services, brands can use figureheads of their companies as a primary marketing tool to promote their competency and give them greater respect within their industry.
Thought leadership can be built in a number of different ways: through actionable blog content, interviews and getting yourself on the public speaker circuit. However, a lot of that requires building a social media audience beforehand.
Social media communities provide a brilliant opportunity to refine your thought leadership brand and connect with people who are vocal, social and interested in finding new voices with interesting ideas.
As well as interaction as a business page you should use individuals from your company throughout these communities to build up thought leadership brands. Social platforms such as Linkedin are particularly well suited for this — where professional conversation is encouraged and there is room to share ideas and long-form content.
Interacting within these communities rather than exposing yourself to the entire social media user base is effective because, once again, you’re interacting with a more engaged audience looking for fresh information.
Being seen offering advice and answering questions builds a stronger impression of your community standing, and can quickly start you snowballing towards a prominent thought-leader position.
They can provide content inspiration
It’s not easy to come up with new content all the time.
Some brands, their products and their services don’t lend themselves to constant output across social media. They lack the visual assets to grab attention and struggle to balance in-house content creation with client work and serving customers.
Social media communities and aiming to build your own community, however, offers brands a constant stream of interesting content they can use without investing significant time and budget away from their core operations.
Communities are an excellent source of user-generated content. This type of content has become one of the most important for brands of all shapes and sizes to make use of.
It not only shows off an engaged audience and awareness of social trends from your brand but keeps your timelines and output varied throughout the year. No need to repost that one good infographic you made 5 years ago for the hundredth time.
If you don’t want to lift content straight from these communities or put them to work creating content for you, they can also serve as an excellent form of inspiration.
Brands have been known to use social media communities for everything from canvassing opinion on new website designs to product messaging. If you’re planning a social medium rebrand, for example, it may well be worth trialing it through select, closed social media groups for feedback on colors, messaging and how well it aligns with the public perception of the brand.
Social media can appear complicated and intimidating to businesses that have so far used it sparingly.
However, despite these communities being well established and often wary of brands trying to infiltrate their spaces, users have been known to interact with ones that show respect for them and offer a unique opportunity to build a strong base and test run initiatives.