Building a better online community is something every business should consider. Doing so will allow you to withstand any algorithmic change Google brings to its search engine and still allow you to get plenty of traffic. In addition, it’ll allow you to add value to your business and let you stand out against your competition.
But to build a better community, you need to focus on building a better company. This isn’t a quick fix – it’s not about building a couple of links, throwing up some content, or sending a few messages on social media. If you want a genuine following, you need a solid offline marketing strategy that includes strong content, engaging with your followers and doing what it takes to build your business to develop a following.
Before you even take off though, you need to set goals. Don’t even focus on what pieces of the puzzle you need to work on until you know exactly what you’re hoping to achieve by building an online community. Are you looking to increase traffic to your website or sales of product by ‘x’ percent within the next three months? Are you looking to improve your relationship with the customers you already have?
Once you figure out what you’re looking to achieve, it’s now time to elect people for specific tasks and develop a specific strategy to address your goals.
For finding the right people for your team, you should understand the roles needed as there’ll be plenty of work to be done, meaning that there’ll be plenty of roles that will need to be filled and with the right people. Here’s a few roles that you may want to think about filling:
- Project manager: You want to have someone who will keep the rest of your team on schedule and on task
- Social media and reputation manager: You want to find someone who can monitor your brand’s reputation and keep track of mentions as well as handle your social media accounts, which includes posting updates, engaging with clients, etc. I would recommend Marty Weintraub’s book on how to manage a community if you’re planning on doing it yourself. If you’re looking to hire an outside vendor to help with social media and reputation management services, I would recommend Smart SEO Designs, an agency I’ve used previously to help with our own social media and reputation management needs.
- Content writers: You want someone who can write interesting articles to post on your blog that people will want to share across the various social media networks
- Search Engine Optimization: You need to find people who like research and analysis to stay on top of the latest trends so that the content that you’re writers are posting are optimized as well as having your website optimized.
- Designer: Visual content is a great way to spread information in an easily digestible manner – that’s why Pinterest and infographics are so hot, so make sure you have someone who can design graphics at a moments notice.
As you can see, there are many positions to be filled one (and there are many other positions that weren’t even listed), making this a lot of work for just one person to do. If you don’t have a budget to get people who can excel at each of these positions, figure out who in your team can help fill these positions and then hire outside help to fill in the gaps.
Once you’ve developed your team, it’s time to come up with a strategy. Developing a strategy will help you with hitting the goals that you set for your business. Taking the time to develop a proper strategy will let you break those high level goals down into actionable pieces.
You should understand that there is no formula. The strategy that’s right for one business could be very wrong for another business. Get creative and find what works for your business. Don’t be afraid to try out different things to see what’s best for your business. It’s ok to make some mistakes – this is what will let you figure out what works to grow your community.
Building an online community can help you stop chasing Google’s frequent algorithm changes. You’ll also get more then just brand name recognition, you’ll get genuine engagement.
We’d love to hear what strategies have you used to build and grow your online community?
- 12 social marketing strategies to grow your sales online (holykaw.alltop.com)
- Strategy from Social Marketing’s Man of Steel – July #InboundHH (iacquire.com)
- Don Sorensen, Online Reputation Management Expert Advises CEO’s on how to Boost Corporate Reputation (virtual-strategy.com)