Building a community of clients for your business (or your clients’ businesses) should be one of your top priorities. And using social media is the best way to do that.
Social media sites allow you to get up close and personal with your clients. You can tap into their lives on a daily basis and gather useful data for free.
Because people see Facebook and Twitter as social networks – and not necessarily as marketing platforms – they’ll be more receptive to your messages. In fact, they might not even see them as ads at all.
Building a strong community also enables you to spot and fix problems with your products and services as your community members share any issues they’re having before those issues make it to a wider audience.
To make sure you’re making the best use of your time, you just need to learn the proper methodologies and techniques to get the best ROI out of your social media community building. And we’d love for you to learn from our own successes and failures.
There are two approaches for community building: paid and free.
Buying People: The Quickest Way to Build a Community
Identify Your Market and What They’re Talking About
The first thing you need to do is to find groups of people in your target market on those social networks. You can do that within the campaign builder of the social network by choosing who to target with the ad based on demographics, education level, job title, etc.
After that, you need to find out what they’re talking about. You need to know about their current interests so it will be easier for you to craft laser-targeted messages. So make sure to do some thinking and research around this.
Create a Compelling Offer
Next, you’ll need to create a compelling offer based on their current interests.
Your offer should always be:
- Something free or
- A huge discount coupon or
- A giveaway contest
Be creative: make something special that’s likely to draw attention.
For example, if you or your client runs a local restaurant, set up a romantic dinner giveaway for couples.
The key is in offering huge value. It could be a quiz they can take to get insight into something, a top-10 list that will help them every day, a video series that will give them massive support, etc.
One great giveaway contest could have a huge impact on a business through building an engaged, excited community.
After you’ve decided on what your offer will be, you’ll need to create a landing page to actually offer it. You’ll be offering it in exchange for their name and email address.
Set Up the Landing Page to Get Their Email Addresses
Set up your landing page to collect email addresses in exchange for the offer so, when your ads send prospective clients to the landing page, they’ll be able to join your community.
After you have the landing page created, you’ll need to set up an ad campaign to send clients to that page.
Post Your Messages In Optimal Time Frames
For Facebook, the best time to post your ads is Thursday and Friday – between 1 pm and 3 pm. If your client is a B2B type of business, you should post on Mondays through Thursdays, since businesses are more active towards other businesses during the week.
For Instagram, the activity is pretty even throughout the week. The best time to post is between 3 pm and 4 pm.
To find out more about optimal posting time frames for social media platforms, check out this infographic by QuickSprout.
Keep on Promoting
When you build the email list, keep on emailing customers every month – every time with a different offer.
As time goes on, start switching from free to paid offers. Don’t send out paid offers right away: you want to build trust first. If the transition is smooth, they won’t even notice it. In just a few months, you or your client could have a huge list of active buyers – and a large social media community as well.
This is how things work on the paid side. The paid approach is easier but also more expensive. Here’s how the free methodology works.
The Organic (Free) Way to Build a Community
There are two angles from which you can tackle free promotion: content creation and social hunting.
1. Content Creation
If you choose to go down this route, you’ll need to create a lot of useful, cool and funny content.
One way is to create short and useful “how to” blog posts. Don’t make them promotional: Facebook has strict filters.
For example, if your client runs a gym, you could create a post like “3 Best Exercises that Only Take 10 Minutes Before You Leave for Work”. The title should have an element of virality to it. If you think your post has that element, boost it for $5 to make sure more people see it.
For Instagram, the key is to dig for relevant hashtags. You can do that through the search function. If your client operates in a broad niche, the hashtag should be used more than 10,000 times. If he operates in a narrow niche, 1,000 is enough.
Most important things to remember when creating content:
- The content has to be of really high quality. It’s better to post extraordinary content less frequently, than it is to post mediocre content frequently. It’s not a numbers game.
- Don’t regurgitate content – no one will care. Instead, try to come up with your own, original case studies. Demonstrate your unique expertise.
- Be funny. Nobody likes serious and dull content on social networks. Remember, your potential customers don’t think of social platforms as marketing platforms: they’re there to socialize and read funny and interesting stuff.
- Images have to be fantastic. Hiring a freelance designer for social media posts can be expensive, but luckily, non-designer tools like Canva enable you to create professional-looking images yourself.
Here’s the bad news: most agencies are already doing this. In order to separate yourself, you need to go one step further. That’s where social hunting comes in.
2. Social Hunting
Social hunting is a process of hunting down relevant content people are already talking about – and leveraging it to your own advantage. Usually, this means jumping into conversations by posting great, insightful comments.
Keep in mind that this is a time-consuming process – and nobody wants to do it. However, if you want to set your agency apart from the rest, you need to spend at least one hour a day per client on this.
And the more time you spend on social hunting, the more you will get out of it: the perception of your client’s brand is going to increase across social networks for every new comment and insight you post. Just make sure you have a dedicated team for this.
Where to Start?
Where’s the best place to start? There are three platforms to focus on in the beginning: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
After that, spread yourself into niche sites.
For example, for your client’s restaurant, you can engage with a local lifestyle website. Or if you’re dealing with a hotel, monitor the TripAdvisor forum in their area. Just make sure it has enough traffic – otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time.
How to Leave Great Comments Without Spamming
You want to add value to the conversation. Don’t spam the comments section with “Great post!” messages: you’ll get deleted fast.
The best way to approach commenting is to give an opinion about one issue in the post – from your own angle. You don’t have to agree with the writer. In fact, disagreeing will put you into spotlight quickly. Just don’t attack the person: attack the idea.
Don’t repeat what others have already said. The best way to avoid that is to post your comment very early on. You can set up Google Alerts to quickly discover new posts in your client’s industry.
Finally, never promote your business or your client directly. The only link you post should be the one on your name. You’re building credibility: you’re not trying to get sales from the comment.
If you want to learn more about commenting techniques, read Mack Collier’s post on writing great blog comments.
Organic Strategies for Specific Platforms
Since Facebook and Twitter are ecosystems in of themselves, you should create specific strategies to tackle each platform.
Twitter’s geo-parameter targeting is great. If your client runs a brewpub in Philadelphia, you can ask Twitter to show you only tweets of people mentioning beer in Philadelphia.
Then, you can respond to every single tweet with a well-crafted, personalized message. If the text of the tweet is something like “Rolling Rock is my new favorite,” you can respond with a question, “Oh, you’re really into bitter beers. What other beers do you like?”
The goal is to provoke a response. Don’t promote a product or service directly: it never works on social media sites.
Now you can also respond with a video. Humans are visual creatures, and videos create a better personal connection between you and the potential customer. In order to build a loyal community, you want to build that immediate, intimate connection right away. That way, people won’t hesitate following you.
That’s why you also need to have your profile all set up. When you respond with an intimate message, the user will click on your Twitter handle.
Make sure you have a professional image and background that represent your client’s brand well. Consider hiring a designer for this. If you want to do it by yourself, check out this post on how to do it with Canva.
If your you or your client have a local business, find the the Facebook pages of other businesses in that particular town and interact with them by posting useful comments on the content they are creating.
You can also publish evergreen content that will provide a lasting value. One example is a meme that pinpoints a specific problem in a funny way. Check out this amazing article on creating memes to help your Facebook marketing efforts.
If you decide to post useful and educational content, make sure quality always goes before quantity. Facebook said that out of 1500 stories that a person might see, the news feed only displays around 300 – so make sure your story counts.
Buffer suggests that two posts per day is a good posting ratio for businesses on Facebook.
Always be sensitive to the type of content that best resonates with your audience. The Socialbakers study from February 2015 implies that Facebook users like text links and videos more than images. However, that might not be the case in your industry. You can leverage insights from your paid campaigns to see what works the best for your client.
Building an excited community around the product or a service takes a lot of time – and it’s hard.
You have to add valuable insights in every conversation. If you don’t, you’ll drown with the masses that do the same thing.
The positive thing is that – once you build a solid community – it’s really easy to leverage it for monetary success. And because of that, your client will stay with you for a long time.
One final thing: your clients need to know how expensive these strategies are to pull off.
Once they realize this, most of them will want to do it on their own, since they’ll have more time than money. In those cases, offer social media consulting services and charge for advice and strategy. Then, after each month, you can call them again, and analyze the progress.