POV: It's 2023, platforms have yet again shifted, popular music now features artists as young as six years old, and the social landscape is an even more complex jungle for social media managers to navigate. Content, Relationships, Metrics, and overall strategies may have evolved, but one thing remains intact, and that’s the undeniable power of social media communities.
If social channels are the watering holes of our online world, where users go to find their people, then community is the water that is shared to create those connections. Community allows users to create real-time connections, build on common experiences, and share interests. These shared interactions build trust, authenticity, and loyalty among groups and are extremely valuable vehicles for conversations. Conversations provide information, and we know that information is the key to building a successful brand. Let’s dig into a few important reasons why building a social media community as a brand is absolutely critical to long-term success.
Social media allows brands to create and engage alongside users, which in turn provides opportunities to have real-time conversations. This type of interactivity from brand to consumer not only helps to foster two-way conversations but, most importantly, helps to build trust. Once a user feels comfortable sharing their opinions, brands are able to unlock invaluable information about problems people are facing and gauge overall sentiment towards brand initiatives. In other words, your brand gets an inside look from a customers’ point of view. As a brand, getting to a position where you are no longer the outsider looking in but a part of their world is important. Such knowledge lets marketers take thoughtful action—providing solutions, education, and contributions through comments and content. Prioritizing establishing a safe online environment and accessible opportunities to share will open the doors for receiving actionable feedback to make valuable shifts in your business strategy.
60% of consumers say that human communication increases their loyalty toward a brand, and 58% say that this will likely increase their chance of purchasing products from that brand. Businesses can also back this, as 80% of brands have expressed that their social media community building efforts have resulted in increased traffic.
For UK-based beauty brand, the INKEY list, social and community go hand in hand. The team is constantly tapping into audience insights to feed into social planning, and its24/7 service, #askINKEY, allows consumers to chat to an advisor via main social channels and ask skincare and hair care questions. Its team prioritizes purposeful metrics to understand the impact of content in order to create in a way that’s both purposeful and informative. Community is the brands’ strategy, and as a result, it has a +110% higher engagement than the skincare industry.
So we’ve established that building a community on social media is essential, but how are social media communities formed? The truth is, they’re not that simple to form, and the brands who have been most successful in building them didn’t simply get there by going viral. Being a trusted member of an online community takes time, consistent work, and, once again, time. There are no shortcuts here, but there are social media community guidelines you can follow. Let us walk you through a few helpful answers on how you can get started.
As a brand, you have the upper hand in being able to start conversations, so don’t just wait for this to happen. Use this as your sign to start creating conversations with your audience, which you can start to do in three easy steps.
Dash Hudson empowers brands to take action by keeping close tabs on community conversations through its community tracker. With Community, monitor the discussions around their brands in a fraction of the time by easily switching between brand accounts within one easy-to-use community inbox. Brands are able to track conversations in real-time to ensure they continue to nurture new and ongoing conversations. Organizational tools such as filtering, tagging, and searching levels allow our Dash Hudson users to organize their inbox and know exactly where they left off—whether that’s to focus on fostering influencer conversations, improve team collaboration processes, or simply create categories for the feedback that’s received from social media community engagement to inspire ideas and change
Community also allows brands to track the overall sentiment that is received from Instagram content using Dash Hudson’s AI. Providing a breakdown of the positive, neutral, and negative comments that content receives for faster prioritization and strategic shifts in content production, tailored specifically for your community needs.
According to 90% of users, brand authenticity is extremely important when deciding where they want to invest their dollars. Authenticity is something that will shine through in your brand personality. Knowing who you are as a brand is essential, and consistency is crucial. Your brand interests make you, as a brand, interesting. This will shine through in your content, captions, comments, and overarching marketing campaigns. Once you’ve established what you bring to the table, you need to gear up to start understanding and recognizing your audience.
Who are they, what do they enjoy, and where are they most active? Brands can leverage social insights to better understand where their audiences are most active. If your tribe thrives on Facebook, focusing on Facebook groups should be your bread and butter. If TikTok is how your community talks, then sound and keyword trends should be top of mind. Once you know who to look for and where they are, you can start tailoring your communication efforts for optimal success.
Kendra Scott knows their audience loves a good how-to video to stylize and layer their jewelry. They create personalized content for their audience to showcase step-by-step videos, which their followers love.
An important piece of advice here is that you can be anything, but not everything, so focus on what value you can provide to your audience through creative content by leveraging insights to find out what makes them tick. Dash Hudson’s campaign tool will allow your team to see how a specific campaign or content pillar processes across holistic social channels, so you can also nail down what specific content performs best and where.
That said, we know that there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to content strategy for social channels. Understanding what to prioritize and where will help your team to cut downtime, produce quality assets, and keep the quality conversations going is essential. Boards is a content analysis tool used by Dash Hudson partners to better understand how to best leverage content on your social pages for your community members. This takes away any second guessing by providing brands with real-time numbers.
Furthermore, Dash Hudson’s Campaign analysis tool allows for consistent measurement on holistic social channels. Brands will quickly learn which channels perform best for specific campaigns and learn how to restrategize content for future decisions. Creativity attracts community, and paying close attention to the data will help you ensure you’re always making decisions in the best interest of your social media community members.
As mentioned, your brand personality shines through in many formats, but the content will always be a top priority on social, as 56% of a brand’s sales lift from a digital campaign can be attributed to the quality of the creative. Content is what visually attracts your community through owned discovery and shared resources. Something to keep in mind is that members of a social media community want to feel just as much part of the tribe as you do. Inclusion is the name of the game here.
Luckily, users love to share their own experiences through visuals. Take advantage of user-generated assets by including your community content on your page. This lets others see how members use your products and services through a different POV. Repurposing UGC promotes content generation organically and shows your community that you see them and care. A picture says a thousand words, so leverage valuable insights like Dash Hudson’s AI technology to analyze UGC segments for visual feedback. Not only is this beneficial for building relationships, but it also helps to reduce an enormous amount of time spent on creating new in-house assets since you are using what’s in front of you.
Are you having issues with content generation to begin with? Remember, it’s up to you to start conversations, so open the floor up for content sharing through contests, branded sounds, trends, content roundups, and so forth. Points for creativity here.
Glossier has reigned on Instagram for as long as we can remember, and they have been notorious for fostering a solid community by resharing UGC on their pages to showcase how their members use their products.
Inclusivity involves more than just sharing your community content, as your social media community needs to be easily accessible. You know that your brand pages exist, but that doesn’t mean others do. Leverage keywords, hashtags, and sounds for discoverability, and be sure to promote your community on different platforms. Leverage a link-in-bio solution like Dash Hudson’s LikeShop to promote where you exist. This can be your different social pages, websites, programs—you name it. It not only provides brands with an avenue for promoting products and services, but with customized content and multi-link options, brands can promote their networks, add CTAs, and track overall performance. Revolve kills the link-in-bio game by making all of its most important social pages accessible so that users can easily find and take action from there. Check out how Revolve leverages custom content to direct traffic to their different social pages.
Pro Tip: Customize your content to also add CTA’s to start, continue, and foster conversations.
Extending your reach will be your best bet for finding and building new internet communities, and what better way to do so than through trusted partnerships? Since the early ages of Instagram, the rise of influencer marketing has created a monumental shift in who brands are able to form relationships with. It was reported that 66% of users have expressed that they genuinely like when brands partner with creators. Marketers need to focus on sourcing quality partners to reach new audiences, and fit the brand persona. Popular platforms where trends are the holy grail require that social teams stay agile, and move quickly as trends can last on average 3-4 days. Working with creators who have their roots on specific social platforms helps your brand keep pace while reaching new audiences to connect with.
As we mentioned, working alongside influencers is an invaluable way to get in front of new users who may be interested in being a part of your brand journey–but how do you know which influencers are the right fit? In Relationships, brands are able to track potential and existing relationships to look into their overall performance alongside content performance where the brand was mentioned. This will give the team the confidence they need to outreach, partner, and nurture influencer/creator partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
Finally, utilizing insights will allow you time to show off the results that your hard work towards creating a solid social media community has contributed. When you’re a Manager, Data Analyst, Creative Director, Entertainer, and Customer Support Representative all in one (Social Media Managers, we are looking at you), it’s important to be able to report efficiently. Dashboards allow teams to have a consistent look at cross-channel performance on an automated and customized basis. Setting up your custom dashboard not only tracks your efforts but gives you time back in your day to focus on the important things—your loyal social media community base.
POV #2, It’s 2022, and we are finally back in space where humans are able to responsibly gather in real life to enjoy experiences together. Maybe it’s time to consider how you can immerse others into your brand world through real-life experiences. Hosting events can serve as a good opportunity for brands to bring their community together by sharing ideas, interests, and everything they essentially love to do online. This gives the brand's audience a higher incentive to become a part of their social media community if they know they can actually meet people face-to-face and create a network of their own within the brand's community.
Revolve is renowned for slaying the event game. They consistently hold pop-ups, events, and opportunities for their loyal followers to come together in real life to dress up, network, and enjoy the luxuries of what their brand world has to offer.
Social communities are groups created by users, brands, or organizations to allow individuals to make real-time connections and build on common experiences. An example of a social media community is The Inkey List's #askINKEY initiative, which enables people to chat to an advisor via main social channels and ask skincare and hair care questions anytime, knowing they will get a response.
It is possible to grow your social media community in a variety of ways, but some of the most effective ways of doing this are engaging with your audience, utilizing user-generated content, making your community accessible and inclusive, as well as hosting events to start building trust with your audience.
It’s easy to identify the brands that have nurtured their online communities well. A few commonalities that you’ll find from brands that have successfully created an excellent online community are as follows. If their audiences consistently engage with creator/brand content, this is a very good sign of a thriving online community effort. If you’re focused on competitive reporting, keep an eye on the brands' competitors with higher engagement rates. There’s a good chance that social community is a main priority. If UGC generation on discovery pages are centered around specific brand products or topics, this is another sign that a brand has successfully cultivated an online community in a big way.