How to Build Your Social Media Community to Overcome Loneliness

Twitter Smarter chat with Heidi Cohen - June 20, 2019

In this age of highly social individuals, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are our go-to sources to meet people, engage with industry leaders, and catch up with friends. But no matter how active we are on social media, sometimes loneliness is inevitable—as if you’re all alone in a bar full of enthusiasts raging to the latest rock and roll.

So how can we overcome this? By leveraging the “social” in social media, of course. And we figured the ideal person to talk about it is Heidi Cohen, the creator of the actionable marketing guide for social media professionals.

With over 20 years of experience in the marketing and media industries, Heidi brought a bunch of information to our weekly #TwitterSmarter chat. Here’s a summary, in case you couldn’t join us.

Topic: How to Build Your Social Media Community to Overcome Loneliness
Guest: Heidi Cohen
Format: 8 questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Most people are lonely even if they have family or friends. Do you ever feel isolated or lonely?

Heidi came at as hard for this one. She shared statistics we never expected. Imagine—almost half of the American population feels alone or left out. And that’s without counting the people who are actually left out. At least two in five Americans admit that they don’t think their relationships are meaningful at all.

Numbers don’t lie. The feeling of isolation is only too real in our society. We’re all desperate for a friend we can rely on.

Some of our community had interesting thoughts to share about loneliness as well. Like, Chaim, who took a comical view at things, saying how easy it is to feel lonely when we see photos of the lavish expenses and the fun trips of our family and friends.

Q2: How much time do you spend on social media per day? Do you lurk, share, comment, and/or engage with the community?

We all have different ways of interacting on social media. When you first jump in on Twitter, for example, it can be overwhelming. It’s easy to lose heart and give up. A lot of people choose to hang around in silence, observing and learning. We’ve found that although lurking is a great way to update your skills, sharing ideas with others helps develop those ideas. Who’s to say, you may even end up brainstorming for new content topics.

If you’ve never voiced your opinions of our chat before, come on down next time! We appreciate everyone who spends time with us.

Heidi shared some more interesting data about how much time we actually spend on social media. She quoted eMarketer’s research that revealed people over 18 years spent about an hour and fifteen minutes on social media every day in 2018.

Q3: Are you part of a social media community? If so, which one(s)? Do they make you feel more connected? How?

Heidi is a huge part of the #CMWorld and #ContentChat communities. She vouches that joining a community will help create something much bigger than yourself. In the long run, it will do much good.

As always, our #TwitterSmarter peeps shared a bunch of communities they love. Check them out—just follow the hashtag. Some of them are weekly Twitter chats, but they also encapsulate a larger conversations, tips, and advice.


And so much more…

Q4: Does social media use increase or reduce your feelings of loneliness?

Our guest is well-read, people. According to Heidi, social media makes you less lonely. Not only do you get to meet and engage with new people, but you also get to follow-up with those you’ve met at events and conferences. And the best part, you can connect with anyone regardless of their job title or experience.

Social media promotes networking in the purest sense, in an entirely good-for-all attitude.

She also shared a handy rule to help you build your community on social media. Heidi calls it the “3 or 30 Rule.”

If you’re at a networking event,

  • stay at least 30 minutes
  • or walk up to at least three people and introduce yourself

In other words, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. It may seem scary at first, but it’ll help you feel welcome and be a part of something much bigger than yourself.

Twitter chats are a gateway to help you warm your feet in the networking game. It’s ideal because it lets you have all kinds of conversations—one-on-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many like a large babbling party.

If you’re looking to join a few social media chats, take a look at Madalyn’s list of Twitter chats for marketing and social media.

But always remember, as our friends at Bentley University say, too much of anything is good for nothing. By all means, be actively social, but don’t let it disrupt personal relationships. Family and friends take precedence.

Q5: How do you move from social media participation to deepen relationships 1-on-1 or offline?

Ever responded to a confirmation email? Like the ones you get when you follow a blog or subscribe to a newsletter? I don’t either.

But then Heidi told us she personally responds to everyone who replies to her newsletters. Every follow is meaningful and our guest knows how to make every person feel valued. Now that’s a pretty good way to solidify these online relationships.

Want to meet Heidi in person? Just drop by one of these conferences and say hello.

Jim spoke about making the most of events. Being on the floor, running into new people, and catching up with friends you’ve met online is one of the easiest ways to make sure your relationships grow.

Matt shared a neat way to make conversations non-salesy. If you’ve been engaging with the same person for a while now about the same topic, you could move it to a direct message or email. That way, though it becomes a business discussion, it remains friendly and casual.

Q6: How do you build social media community? Is it your job? What tactics work? What don’t?

Here comes the real problem. Now that we all know how important it is to have a community, and to contribute to one, how do we go about it? We asked how Heidi built hers.

“Pay-it-forward and shine the light on other people.” – Erik Qualman

Say hello to your email subscribers. Send a personal thank you, catch up over coffee, attend conferences together, share a photo on social media, or take a leaf out of Heidi’s book and conduct marketing solons. There are tons of ways to connect with your community.

You can also make use of other platforms like Facebook groups, Messenger Pods, LinkedIn groups, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Q7: How often do you connect with new people on social media? Do you give them a reason to say yes?

You can never have too many people in your community. So how often do you put yourself on the line and interact with new people on social media? Is there a guideline for the rest of us?

The key is to always stay in touch with friends and existing connections. Send personalised notes—that’s always a great way to establish rapport.

And if you’re sending an invite—like on LinkedIn—always tell the other person where you met, how you know them, or why they should respond to your invite. Give people a reason to say yes to you. Also, skip the creepy DMs, folks. That’s just not nice.

And every chance you get, hit up someone new. That’s the only way to grow your network.

Q8: Share social media building community examples. What should firms do to make people feel connected?

And what’s a Twitter chat without a few shout-outs? We asked Heidi and the rest of our community to share some examples of brands that do community building well.

Pinterest has a thriving community of small business owners and enthusiasts. And as an email marketing tool for small businesses, Constant Contact cleverly used this opportunity to build a network of 82k followers on Pinterest. Now that’s a great example of how people and communities extend beyond just one social media channel.

CMWorld is another community we all love. Their community manager, Monina Wagner is often behind the Twitter handle and the weekly chats, responding to messages, mentions, and general CMWorld questions. But CMWorld brings the same enthusiasm to live events and conferences as well. Again, another good example of how relationships go beyond social media.

Like we’ve been emphasizing over and over during this chat, a community is about the people who spend time on it. So it’s essential that you make them feel welcome, listen to their suggestions, and share meaningful and helpful content.

Well, that’s all from me. Thanks for reading, and check out Madalyn’s Twitter Moment for more insights on this topic. And if you have any questions you’d like to ask Heidi, or any follow-up thoughts on this chat, feel free to leave a note below.

About me, Narmadhaa: I’m a writer of all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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