If you’ve poked around any one of the vast number of social networks, then you have probably found that there is an online community for just about every interest. Whether you are looking for communities to engage your personal interests or places where you can help boost your social media marketing impact, you’re bound to find several niche communities that interest you.
If you would like to make the most of your social media marketing and online presence, then it’s not just important to find the communities that will best reward your social media marketing efforts, but it is also crucial that you learn the unique dynamics of each community. Your college alumni Facebook group will not operate along the same conventions as a forum where skiers gather to exchange information and tips, so it is important to learn the rules if you want to make any headway with a social media marketing campaign.
Joining online communities can be a great way to enhance your online brand and cultivate a great, engaging image through a well-crafted social media marketing campaign. Whether you’re looking to increase your personal presence online or your goal is to improve your business’ online activity, niche online communities remain a great opportunity for effective social media marketing.
It’s important to first find where your audience is, but that’s just the first step. Growing an online presence is an activity that takes time because you first must discover how your audience communicates. Are they active on Facebook? Do they read Twitter updates? Do they have a Ning group? Finding the online areas where your target hangs out is the only way you can effectively communicate with them as part of a social media marketing campaign.
But once you find those communities, a little more preparation is required before you launch a social network marketing campaign. If you simply sign up for an account and then deliver your sales pitch, you’ll be ignored at best, and criticized at worst. These groups value community, and they value people who positively contribute to their community.
Experience has shown that a company rep or a marketer can become an accepted community member if they contribute regularly. If that person takes time to develop real relationships and takes time to offer advice to community members, then he or she will reap the benefits of being a trusted group member.
That’s the new blueprint for developing online relationships with consumers that matter. And while that may sound like a lot of work, it’s not that difficult. In fact, many who have embarked on this social media marketing strategy have found that engaging with their target audience is one of the most enjoyable parts of their day. And it’s also a great way to get tips, news and opinions that would have otherwise been missed.
So what are the specific social media marketing strategies you need to implement when participating in social communities? Here are the most important.
Pay Attention to the Rules – Nearly every social media site has rules. They’re usually listed on a page before or immediately after a new account is registered. Most of us either skim these or ignore them completely. But we really shouldn’t. If you’re the head of a social media marketing team with a new social media marketing campaign, you should print out or send the rules to all members, so they’ll know what is and isn’t acceptable.
What rules are important? One example is some online community forums allow links in your signature (the short blurb that appears with every post you make), and some won’t. Make sure you are aware of the community’s rules before posting a link to your site in an online forum.
Study the Community First – When you join an online community, it’s best not to simply dive right in and start posting, but rather sit back and observe how things operate. Think of it as your chance to play anthropologist. Finding out what people are discussing and how they discuss it will give you a better idea of how you approach that particular online community.
And depending on the type of community, you will be able to learn how people use and comment on your product or service. It’s a great resource for an unfiltered view into how people really think about your brand or business.
Obey the Rules and Norms – So you’ve read the rules and regulations, and you’re abiding by them. That’s great. But every community also has several unwritten rules. Unwritten rules could include what’s considered acceptable when it comes to linking to company sites as part of a social media marketing campaign. Other rules could refer to the terms and language used on a site. Some online communities are just going to be more casual than others. You can make sure you’re hitting the right tone in your social media marketing efforts by figuring out the vocabulary acceptable on the site before you begin posting.
Learn the Community Hierarchy – Most online communities have some kind of leader, whether it’s an official administrator or just an unofficial group organizer. By watching for a bit, you’ll be able to figure out which people are prominent presences and which people are just an occasional commenter.
Remember, administrators often have the power to kick people out of the community, so knowing the right way to approach them is imperative to your social media marketing campaign.
Don’t Directly Market – Online communities that are thriving and successful (that is, any online community that’s worth joining as a part of a social media marketing campaign) will not want direct marketing. People gather in online communities because they want to share their interests, opinions, ideas and knowledge. If you invade a place with a clunky social media marketing spiel, then you’ll likely find yourself ostracized.
But if you offer value-if you offer your own ideas and opinions about a range of topics, then you’ll be valued yourself. When you establish trust with online community members you will able to increase your presence and your brand’s presence with savvy social media marketing campaign.