You can't create a community without strong, cohesive human relations (regardless of whether these are online or offline). If you don't have an emotional tie, forget about creating a community; people just won't show up!
Unfortunately, this doesn't happen overnight. As you must already be aware, community-building takes time, and it requires creating solid relationships. Relationships are based on trust, and such trust must be believable, valuable and loyal.
Adding value can take many shapes. You need to learn how your audience views the world, what they like, how they think, what they don't like, how they perceive you and much more. Value could come in the shape of social objects: videos, photos, graphic work, and so forth. There are endless ways in which we can add value in the connected economy in which we're living: answering questions, speaking of the people who're doing a great job, returning influence to those who deserve it (those under you). Remember, your words and actions can lead to great change in those people.
Think of your audience, take care of them, listen to them and then do something. Create human relations.
Say who you are and why you're here. Establish a purpose and communicate it to your audience. Even if you're here to sell something, we want to know your true intentions. Otherwise, we won't come near you! No relationship is possible without honesty. People populating every community are increasingly smarter; so, be careful: they'll smell you out like a rat!
You need consistent communication and marketing; not only from you but from anyone in your company who may be in contact with your social media sphere. There's no break here; you're under the spotlight every day, consistently. Alignment is a key concept: you can't talk about one promotion in a newsletter and a different one on Twitter. Keep things simple and don't confuse people!
Don't Sell Blatantly
Resist the temptation of endlessly posting about your products or talking to your community about everything you do, how great you are, the great results you've achieved, the excellence of your products, how great your company is and all the good things they're missing. We're sure that's the case but there are other options out there that aren't you. You're here to share experiences, to connect and resonate and to create interactions that will hopefully lead to people discovering all of the abovementioned. Give them something they didn't have.
You're marketing products, not people.
Appreciate the Attention
Attention is scarce. Whether you're creating a Pinterest board about your brand, writing a review in a post, recording a video testimonial or sharing pictures, you should understand that your audience has more important things to do than to talk about you. Gain people's attention by telling stories that can help them, improve them or stories they can benefit from. That will make them interested in your brand and that means getting their attention.
This never fails: don't wait for your community to do something (as Seth Godin says) for you; do something for them first. That will set the difference because, basically, no one's doing it. We all wait for a recommendation, a post that talks about us or a video-homage. Keep waiting!
Photo credit: muffett68.