*This content was previously published on Social Conversations in July 2010. Social conversations was a product of Serengeti Communications which closed in 2012.
This post is part of a series entitled The Community Building Series. This week’s topics revolve around Managing a Community.
Whether you are just beginning to build a social media community, trying to revive one, managing a thriving one or wanting to become part of one, one thing is certain; none of those tasks can be accomplished unless you’ve built strong, solid relationships with the members of the community, both direct members and peripheral members, meaning the general community at large not specifically a niche community.
It takes time to build solid relationships that will help you manage a community. Those relationships, those bonds of friendship that form, are built on a lot of trust and that just doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by continually being of value to the other individual. That value can take many forms, as we discussed in the Four Pillars of Social Media Marketing series, such as giving people content they find valuable, answering their questions, providing special incentive, being consistent with your words & actions and most of all, always saying thank you and you appreciate the other person’s time and contributions.
You can’t build solid relationships with community members by looking at them as another place to put your press release to test market your product or service. If that’s all you’re into social media for, you might want to rethink your strategy and incorporate these 5 very important steps.
The first thing any marketer needs to do when they are first stepping into any social media environment, whether its YouTube or a niche forum, is be transparent about who you are and why you are there. If you aren’t honest about your intentions from the get go, you won’t be able to build any relationships, let alone solid ones. The community is smart, they can smell a fake a mile away and when they uncover your true intentions, there’s no repairing those relationships that have been destroyed.
Be Consistent with Your Words & Actions
Everyone on your team and your company needs to be consistent with your messaging. You can’t have the email team saying one thing and your social media team promoting something totally opposite. You also can’t have one team offering something and another team saying that offer expired. That does nothing for your creditability with the communities at large and makes members think your company has no clue what’s going on behind its own doors, and that does little to build the trust you need to build those solid relationships.
Don’t Blatantly Market to Them
Resist the temptation to just start pushing your products or services as soon as you step foot in a social media community. To build solid relationships with key members of social media communities you have to realize that they are there to, first and foremost, share their own experiences. Second on the list is to gain or acquire knowledge that they might not have had before. They really don’t want to be marketed to.
Appreciate Their Time & Contributions
It takes time to share what people are experiencing. Whether they write a blog post about it, shoot a video, or take pictures, that is still time the community member could have taken to do something else rather than share their experience with your product or service. Even if it’s not the experience your company wants to hear about (no one really likes “Bad News”), you still need to be very cognizant of the time they took out of their day to contribute their experience. They wouldn’t be doing it unless they really cared at some point in time.
Always Say Thank You
There’s something to be said for taking the time to say “Thank You”. There’s even more to be said about taking the time to write one – more on that later next week when we talk about Rewarding a Community. It takes only a few seconds to post a comment on a picture on a fan page, that a fan uploaded for you to say “Thanks for contributing”, or “really awesome picture, so thankful you share it with us”. Making sure you thank the community and its members is a very important factor in building a solid relationship with them, not only does it show you appreciate them, it shows you aren’t taking advantage of them either.
Without solid relationships being built within your own community you’ll find it extremely difficult to manage and promote it all on your own. There is definitely that aspect of “Being Social” to have a successful social media community that is needed.