Building Your Social Community: Start from the Ground Up

Darren Johnson
Darren Johnson Director, Power Ten, Inc.

Posted on February 22nd 2013

Building Your Social Community: Start from the Ground Up

ImageBuilding a social media presence from scratch can be a daunting task. At a recent seminar, one of the presenters said she felt sorry for community managers who had less than 1000 followers. Her reasoning was that these managers spent so much time worrying about gaining or losing a follower that they were not able to manage their communities.

These statements made me want to stand up and walk out of the presentation right then and there. Looking back at this event, I must say that building new communities can certainly be a challenge, but the opportunities provided by a small audience can also give the community manager a greater opportunity to engage directly with those who care most about what the company is doing.

Here are three advantages for building your community from the ground up:

  1. Your company will have a vested audience – Too often we hear businesses saying, “Is my social media investment worth it?” When starting from the ground up and building you audience, you will have a solid core of vested brand ambassadors, people who believe in your company or product. These ambassadors will be some of your best promoters, give them a voice and your message will be heard by people you want to reach.
  2. Engagement is about building a relationship – Social Media can become a platform to preach from when your audience grows too big too rapidly. The name social implies interaction and engagement; it is much easier to establish your community as a place to interact with your fans, clients, and customers from the beginning. Trying to change the theme or vibe of a community in mid-stream is much more difficult, if not impossible, than building it that way from the beginning.
  3. Customizing your community according to your followers – Not all people respond the same to all social networks. A company community on Facebook, will be vastly different from that same company’s community on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, or Pinterest. By knowing the audience that is attracted to each of your communities from the beginning, your business will be able to customize content according to the benefits of each social network, while making it an engaging and attractive community for your fans and followers.

Is it nice to have a ready-made community with thousands of followers waiting for you to start sharing with them? Most certainly it provides the community manager with great numbers to brag about, but in the long run, building a community from the ground up will give you a more committed group to help share your message.

Are you building a community from the ground up? We want to hear about your experience with starting a new community.

Darren Johnson

Darren Johnson

Director, Power Ten, Inc.

Mr. Johnson serves as Director of Communications and Social Media for Power Ten, Inc. He joined Power Ten, Inc. after over a decade in private and non-profit communications and public relations. Beginning his career in print journalism with newspapers in Northern California, Mr. Johnson soon discovered the gap in presenting the stories and messages of organizations to the media and public. His work took him across the nation to Washington D.C., around the globe to Japan and finally back to Southern California. Mr. Johnson has designed public relations and marketing campaigns for organizations of all sizes. Ranging from print, to mobile and social media, he has directed numerous successful campaigns for both small businesses and nation-wide organizations. As the social media experience has matured, he has developed and integrated of a new set of rules for effective communication.
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Comments

Having recently left a position where i'd build a community from a couple of thousand to 15,000, i'm finding it challenging starting communities from a standing start of literally zero. 

With some clients who have an obvious audience who are willing to engage it has been challenging, but not difficult to achieve strong, sizeable growth; however with some other clients it is proving frustratingly difficult regardless of strategic planning and the tactics i've been using.  I agree in principle that technically when you build a community from nothing, that community can be full of strong brand ambassadors, but I think that if you have a larger community that isn't mostly made up of brand ambassadors, then you are going about growing your community in the wrong way.

Your point about using different communities to communicate with different target audiences is very valid; A b2b finance company on Tumblr is pretty much pointless; for a student clothing brand being on LinkedIn is probably just as pointless, but even when you do choose the right communities, use tried and tested communication techniques and continually monitor to find talking points and use every resource available to connect and engage, when all of that doesn't work, It can be incredibly frustrating.

My personal preference is to have a very small starting point of perhaps 100 or so followers; when this is the case I find it much easier to create meaningful growth, but when starting from 0, It can be very difficult indeed.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Shell. I can understand the difficulties that you are facing. Transitioning from clents and businesses that people liked to follow to focusing on the businesses that provided systems for the military was an interesting challenge. The "Like" factor that is just there with some businesses just isn't there in other industries.

Like you I have found that it is amazing what that small group can accomplish when they are behind you.