From Likes to Loyalty: Cultivating an Engaged Social Media Community
By Bobby Johnson
July 11, 2023
By Bobby Johnson
July 11, 2023
In a recent Hubspot survey, 90% of social media marketers said that an active, online community was critical to brands in 2023. 90%! You can’t get 90% of marketers to agree on a pizza order.
An engaged community on social media is crucial for brands and individuals looking to establish a strong online presence. A community that feels seen and heard fosters brand loyalty, drives traffic to your website and increases your visibility and reach by a significant margin.
Engagement isn’t just a number. It goes way beyond how many followers you have.
Followers who aren’t actively engaged aren’t hearing your message. They may see it, but if they’re scrolling past without clicking or commenting, they’re not thinking about it. It hasn’t really penetrated the scalp.
It’s background noise.
An engaged member of your community is sharing your posts, they’re “liking” them, they’re composing comments and leaving them on your doorstep. They’re interacting with other comments. They’re engaging in a dialogue.
Think of it like a town hall meeting. If your brand is standing at the podium talking to the residents, but the crowd is napping or looking at their phones, if they’re never asking questions or cheering, how well is that town running?
We’re inherently social creatures: the runaway success of social media is one of the clearest bits of evidence. We want to share, to communicate, to interact: it’s a built-in urge. An engaged social media community is one that bolsters trust in a brand, attracts new customers, and adds credibility and awareness.
An interested community is an engaged community. Brands that struggle with keeping their followers engaged and clicking and liking and reposting are brands that haven’t fully honed in on what their audience wants.
There’s no shortcut here. Identifying your target audience requires research on every channel.
Demographic data. Who’s buying your product or service, and who do you want to be buying? Your CRM, your sales team, and any surveys you’ve done are great sources of information here.
Market research. Who’s throwing money at your competitor? Who are the people who want and/or need your brand the most?
Social media analytic tools. Almost every social media platform has analytics of some kind, from Meta’s extremely granular tools and ad systems to, well, less robust tools. Whatever social channels you’re on, you need to regularly check these tools. Repeat what’s getting big clicks and toss what’s laying fallow.
And of course, there are third-party tools like those provided by SEMRush to help you find your audience. Once you’ve established who your audience is and what they want, you’ll want to start tailoring your social media content to them.
Communities form around great content: ask any Star Wars fan. On social media, content is what keeps people coming back to you. Keeps them sharing, heart-ing, making content out of your content. When a brand’s social media presence is just a catalogue, there’s nowhere for a community to gain purchase.
Content entertains, it educates, it even (gasp) may have nothing directly to do with your business on the surface.
Create content across multiple formats. The internet is a wide, vast place full of diverse people who absorb information in different ways. Your content should reflect that (and cater to it).
Text, blog, and long-form content help those who learn by reading or those who like to return to an idea at their own pace. Images are quick and easily digestible and are often memorable snapshots of what you’re trying to get across. Videos are hugely popular, and your clips and Reels have a chance of truly going viral on Instagram or TikTok.
Identify topics that align with your target audience. Once you’ve established your target audience, keep digging. What does that target audience enjoy? Surveys and studies are available everywhere online for your demographic. Read them, absorb them, internalize them. If your demographic also loves cars, or fashion, make content relating to that and connect it with your brand.
The next step is to court discussion.
Now that you know your target audience and you’re making engaging content, you’re going to want to encourage interaction. As any good dinner party host will tell you, sometimes conversation needs a little push to get going.
Add captions that call to action. For your images, videos, and posts, include a line addressing the audience directly. Ask them to leave a comment, to share their opinion, to offer an alternative to an idea or a process you’re talking about.
Say things people can disagree with. Now, this doesn’t have to be clickbait or ragebait. In fact, we don’t recommend that, as it can go off the rails quickly. But, allow your content to make a statement, to push one idea over another, to take a stand within your comfort level. Middle-of-the-road content may not offend anyone, but it won’t engage them either.
Monitor your feeds and respond to your followers. Social media audiences crave interaction with those they follow, be it comedians, meme accounts, politicians, or brands. The best part about social media is that it gives anyone a voice, and that anyone has a chance of grabbing attention and being heard.
You should monitor the comment sections where you post your content and engage with the people commenting. Make jokes, ask questions, answer questions, clarify when people seem confused, link them to useful resources, etc. A community is formed when everyone has a seat at the table, and that includes you.
Let’s recap. So, when creating an engaged audience on social media, you want to:
All of these tactics help find and create your brand community. And these communities are invaluable for boosting your brand advocacy, for expanding your reach, and for building and retaining customer loyalty. Everyone wants to be heard: its our job as brands to listen.
To learn more about community building on social media, or if you need help creating and refining your strategy, reach out to Inspira Marketing right now.
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