In our final installment of why community building requires social media, we will discuss how to scale your community efforts through social media, measuring engagement for success, and strategies to authentically partner with your marketing team as a community builder.
Before continuing, read our previous installments to learn about the concept of holistic social media community engagement and how to build a brand of value. For everyone who’s caught up, let’s dive in.
How to Scale Your Community Following
The virtuous debate about followers versus community members rages on amongst Community Managers, but if you are like me, maybe you don’t really care?
The point of this blog series is to uncover how holistic social media engagement can enhance, not replace your community building efforts. Sure, followers may not feel like community members to you, but what do you call the quiet learners in your closed community groups?
As community builders, our job is to provide consistent value for our members and organizations, and holistic social media engagement is the perfect vehicle for modern community managers. In our last installment we talked about building a brand of value, but how do you authentically build your followers?
Start by resharing content from industry leaders that you admire, colleagues whose opinions you respect, and community members’ big wins! This strategy will not only help you build rapport with the aforementioned parties, but it also supports your recruiting efforts for future community event speakers. In addition, this will make yourself more accessible to community members when you DM them for a virtual coffee.
Building a social media hashtag toolkit is one of the first activities that I work with those who I coach. If you do not have access to your preferred website traffic analytics tool, work with your Marketing Operations counterpart, and uncover what are the top keywords others are searching for on your website. Your toolkit should include a combination of top keywords searched on your company homepage, industry (and adjacent) specific terminology, your desired personas to reach, and lastly, a bit of your social media leadership flavor.
Remember that your colleagues, especially your community forum early adopters, are an essential part of your holistic social media engagement strategy. Whenever I join an organization and leading product-led community programs, I immediately add my team members in Customer Success (no one knows the customer pain points better), my product team leaders (users want to be a meaningful part of your product roadmap), and lastly, if engaged in technical community programs, my developers because if you are building and requiring technical resources for your programs, your developers deserve to be authentically praised.
Pro-tip: if you are starting a technical program from scratch, you cannot expect to be the expert in anything and/or everything. Use LinkedIn or your preferred social media platform to authentically give praise publicly to your early adopters and continuous helpers. This tactic is even more helpful for your begrudging C-Suite members that unbeknownst to all, do want public praise and the best part? It’s free, kind, and part of an internal holistic social media engagement strategy.
Do not underestimate the power of building a following via sharing in groups, connecting with active non-spamming contributors, hosts, and those that like, and/or engage in comments. This is a powerful area to cultivate real relationships, whether followers and/or promoters of your community resource sharing.
In addition, just like your community learners who don’t participate, but learn passively, your followers are doing the same thing. Invest in you and sign-up for a LinkedIn Premium account or better, leverage community analytics platforms like Talkbase, to better understand who is engaging in your posts, and either follow them, connect with them, and/or DM them to continue your holistic social media engagement for community building success.
Remember that as an authentic community builder, leaders internally and externally are looking to you to be fearless, authentic, and brave. This is what differentiates you from Marketing, dear reader. Social media is a great vehicle for us introverts moonlighting as extroverts.
How do you measure what you don’t know?
“You can’t improve what you don’t measure” — Peter Drucker
In addition to being tasked with KPIs for your community programs, you may ask yourself why you are being tasked with other insurmountable goals of measuring what you don’t know.
Well, I am so glad that you asked, because unlike the new terrains of community management, social media engagement is an area that has over a decade of recommended practices. Regardless of your holistic social media engagement strategy of choice, there are two terms that you need to know - reach and impressions.
TL;DR: Reach = who sees your content, versus impressions = those exposed to your community content without engaging and or clicking (Hubspot, 2019). But it’s important that you also set some personal benchmarks and root-cause analysis for yourself who are new on this social media community building adventure.
Why did that particular post trend more than the last? Why did one have more comments, reshares, and/or impressions than the one before? Why did my LinkedIn profile views go up? Ask yourself some troubleshooting questions, be ready to repurpose well-performing content, and don’t be afraid to add, follow, and connect with those new followers when hosting a TwitterSpace, meetup, and/or community event.
Spoiler alert: when doing holistic social media root cause analysis (RCA), it always comes back to leveraging data-driven and demonstrated results that your social media marketing counterparts have been employing since that expired last TikTok trend.
How to effectively partner with your marketing team as a community builder
In my former community manager and self-righteous community building days, I would question the intentions of marketing and our company members. And yes, you still should carry a healthy level of excitement to collaborate with skepticism for tomorrow.
But in my past two roles, I was also tasked with managing our B2B corporate social media accounts, and for a period, co-running all marketing efforts on top of building out my community team (startup life, am I right?). In this time, I learned a ton about the value of effective partnerships with marketing teams and how to be a mutual agent of service for the businesses well-being, while nurturing my community members. Let’s dive into some strategies to help you become the darling of your marketing team, while leveraging their techniques to help you drive value for your community programs.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important that you measure what matters for the business. Partnering with your Marketing Operations counterpart to gain personalized UTM links are essential for understanding how you are contributing to brand awareness and lead generation is essential. Highly recommend reading SemRush’s leadership resource for this topic here.
In addition, employ marketing strategies to think about when your scheduled posts will be of most value. Per a 2022 SemRush global study, the best times of engagement can be found between 9am-11am on Tuesday-Thursday, depending on your geo-location. And maybe you are at a start-up with limited budget and cannot afford scheduling applications for holistic social media engagement and reach? Well, LinkedIn and Twitter have got you covered.
Remember that the power of building a brand of value, and while holistically engaging your community members on social media is that you can also do A/B testing (just like your favorites in Marketing).
When I coach community builders, I always address that the biggest misconception people have about posting on any social media platform is that everything they produce needs to be thought leadership-worthy. It's not that serious. Go experiment!
Maybe you have a more personalized brand on Twitter, but need to get insights around engagement for LinkedIn? Well, post in that order, leave a time window, and see what happens.
Remember that why Marketing (should) is successful is their ability to post diverse multi-media content across diverse social channels. And the best part about being a community builder is that you are not held to the same standards for engagement, but dear reader, you should hold yourself to the same standards, because what other department in tech is expected to be self-sustaining like a community?
And as someone that used to run an end-to-end content strategy, I am here to tell you that the majority of your followers, community members, and/or anyone gaining value from your content is most likely not seeing your posts.
This also includes you virtuous community builders, disgruntled social media managers, and all of us living in the between. But there is a solution for this and that is to repurpose your content, whether re-sharing marketing with your unique community-minded user value proposition, a repost with a different CTA (that’s a Call to Action in the Marketing biz, community folks), and/or leveraging on a different platform.
Marketing strategies for your community quick wins
Let’s be honest, dear reader. The community building profession grew quickly, but Marketing wasn’t going anywhere as an integral function of the business. You, however, may or may have not taken a hit in a growing and new profession. Marketing is looking to you for *gulp* content.
Don’t shy from this challenge, but embrace it, while building value for your community members. Seems like a tall ask? Not really.
Remember that if you consistently took the actions shared in our previous installments, your community members on social media have grown to trust you. Use this time to help marketing 1) actively get new data via polls, 2) gain new customer wins via your tools in engaging prompts, 3) use social media for getting new ideas for future community-led blogs.
In addition, you can flex your new following to help authentically cross-promote new company initiatives, but through the voice of your holistic social media community brand of value. This is also especially helpful when doing a community spotlight for a customer about to churn, but making big wins (dear reader, they are not the decision maker, but have big dreams to influence and love your product), a testimonial from a beta-user when the C-Suite wants to sink a feature that your users love, and/or you want to offer a unique and accessible voice that doesn’t include the jargon of an SEO-riddled marketing blog.
I did not write this blog series to widen the industry knowledge differentiation gap between social media managers and community builders. As a community-first and marketing leader, I hope to craft a roadmap for community builders to leverage modern social media practices to bring value back to your members and demonstrate visible results for your organization.
While I have begrudgingly taken over corporate social media accounts, I also understand the power of leveraging innovative marketing practices as a vehicle to bring real value back to your community members, which is the whole point of being a community builder.
Please remember to continue to experiment on social media, engage your community members holistically, and remember that you have a whole community of diverse professionals in the Talkbase Community to ask for guidance. Now let’s go drive results for your community programs via holistic social media engagement.
March 23, 2023
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