The Best Ways to Engage Your Community

The Best Ways to Engage Your Community - #TwitterSmarter chat with Erika Lovegreen on December 19, 2019

At #TwitterSmarter, we often talk about the importance of community. When you spend time engaging with your audience, learning from them, and using their feedback to improve your own content, success would be just around the corner.

And this week, we asked social media consultant, Erika Lovegreen, to share some of her best advice on engaging with community. Apart from being highly-experienced in the field, Erika is also the Director of Digital Strategy at ICUC, a social media management agency.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Erika Lovegreen
Topic: The Best Ways to Engage Your Community
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to answer.

Q1: Why is it important for a brand to build a community?

When you prioritize community building, you nurture a group of people who care about what you have to say. And so, they will return to your profile to consume more of your content. This group of people will continue to offer you feedback and suggestions about what else they’d like. It’s a great way for you to build trust and use your community to shape your content strategy.

With such a strong sense of community, not only do you get to engage in meaningful conversations, but you also get to build long-term relationships. These connections power your brand, and as Tom pointed out, can even help you remain sane and grounded in an ever-changing industry.

Q2: What’s the first step in building a community?

The most important thing in social media management, is having a strategy. Make goals and ensure you and your team understand your purpose. When you have a list of proper goals you want to achieve, you can then base your activities on that.

For example, for every social media decision you make, know what you get from it and what your audience gets from it. Unless it’s mutually beneficial, you’re not getting or offering much value.

Once you know why you’re on social media and what your values are, you should then start to engage with your audience. Listen. Observe and people will tell you what they think about recent developments in the industry, your competition, and even your content. Engage with their ideas, ask questions, and offer helpful suggestions.

That way, as Joana pointed out, you can connect with more people and learn a lot in the process.

Q3: Share some tips to identifying the right audience.

Erica’s top tip is to share a variety of content. That’s a great way to cater to all your audience without alienating a specific group. When you have so much diversity, you’ll also get a lot of data such as engagement rates, click throughs, and link visits, that you can analyze to understand your audience better and change your goals accordingly.

As Erica said, as important as it is to have variety in your content, it’s also necessary not to make assumptions about your audience, what they need, where they’re coming from, and how they’ll react to specific content. Analyze the data and know for sure.

This also leads to Gene’s point about observing. There are many tools out there you can use to search through Twitter and other social media for conversations in and around your industry. Twitter’s own Advanced Search is such a good resource.

If you have an ecommerce site, check out some of the tools our friends from GiveWP mentioned. Google Analytics is such a comprehensive way to keep an eye on your website activities and how people navigate through your online store. Another idea is to survey your audience directly asking any questions you have in the back of your mind. People will be happy to tell you exactly what they’re looking for.

Events and trade shows are also a good way for you meet people, engage in conversations, and glean information about your ideal audience.

Q4: How do you choose the ideal social platform to build your community?

Before you sign up and settle down on a specific social media platform, start by building audience personas. From the information you already have of your customers, well wishers, and audience, try and segment them by which platforms they use the most. When you have that analysis, you’ll have a clearer idea of which social media channel you need to prioritize. Focus on your customers and their requirements when you make any strategic decisions. Go where your audience is.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes, the most popular platform for your audience may not be the most comfortable one for you. If you face that crossroad, always chose your customers. Adapt to newer trends so offer value and don’t disappoint your audience.

Research. As Jim said, when you’re looking for the right social media platform, also remember that content type plays an important role in the success of content as well. For example, you may have audiences on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. In that case, reserve your image-based content like banners and infographics for Instagram and focus on creative storytelling on Twitter.

Q5: What are some ways to measure community engagement on social media?

There’re many ways to measure engagement from your community. One is to keep a keen eye on your website statistics. Tools like Google and Adobe Analytics can help you follow how many people have landed on your website through various social media. You can even see how they’ve navigated through your pages and where they’ve dropped off. All this is thorough data to help you change aspects in your website to make it more user-friendly. In addition, you can also use heat mapping tools to see how far people scroll through your website, and which content they spend the most time reading and absorbing.

Your website is only one medium, however. Look at Madalyn, for example. Twitter is her high-priority social platform. And she said that from observing her Twitter analytics, she realized that her custom GIFs are a major success.

Stats like this go a long way in helping you generate content ideas that work.

Here’re a few more ways to measure your engagement, as shared by our community members:

  • See who reacts to your posts, on any social platform. Then see if they’re the kind of audience you intend to attract.
  • How frequently does your audience engage with your content? If it’s been faltering or fluctuating, what’s the reason? Do holidays and geographical locations affect your engagement?
  • Run tests on different CTAs (Calls to Actions). Identify the phrasing that works for your audience.
  • If you’re on Facebook groups, analyze how many people post on your group or page, and the type of responses.

Q6: How can you effectively manage your time between various social media platforms?

The most effective way to make sure you’re not wasting time on social media is to create a content calendar and stick to it. It may seem like a trivial idea, but unless you have a plan that balances your evergreen and seasonal content well, you’ll have a hard time managing your social media activities.

Masooma also shared a great tip about scheduling content beforehand. Most social media management tools let you maintain a content calendar and schedule your posts so that you don’t have to scramble for ideas on a day to day basis.

Here are more some ideas our community shared:

  • Allocate specific time periods in a day for each platform. That way, you won’t let one take over your entire day.
  • Share your audience’s content. This will lessen the pressure of having to create new content all the time.
  • Focus only on social platforms that are most relevant to you. If you don’t have the capacity to manage three different channels, then don’t. Manage only one, and manage it well.
  • Segment your messages according to your target audience. Not everyone needs every type of content. Filter, so you can reach specific audiences more.
  • Use social media tools like Hootsuite, IFTTT (If This Then That), and Buffer to automate your posting and track your notifications.

Q7: When should you think about hiring external help to manage social media?

To be honest, social media management can be tiring and sometimes too much to handle. So when exactly should you raise your hand and ask for help?

The moment you start compromising the quality of your content, you will lose credibility among your audience. Don’t let that happen. When you realize that you’re posting just for the sake of posting and your content is no longer as sharp and valuable as it could be, it’s time to seek help.

That said, getting help doesn’t necessarily mean that you hand over your social media to a third-party. Often it’s doing tasks like customer support or social listening in conjunction with your social media management.

Here’s a great example of hiring external help: Social Media Examiner hired Megan as their Community Moderator. This doesn’t mean the in-house team is relinquishing control of their handle, but it’s a way for professionals within the community to be part of SME’s social activities.

Just remember, though: whoever you hire to help out with your social media should know and appreciate your brand. They should understand your goals, your policies, and why you do what you do. Only then can you all work seamlessly.

Q8: What tools do you recommend to engage with your audience?

Erika vouches for Sprout Social and Sprinklr. Besides those two, she also spoke about the latest social media tool developed by the company she works with. It’s called ICUC Central. You can check it out here, and contact Erica with questions.

We’ve seen how effective videos and video replies are on Twitter. If you’re looking to venture in that area, Jennifer recommends Bonjoro.

Here are a few other tools our members shared:

  • CrowdFire for social media scheduling.
  • TweetDeck for Twitter listening.
  • Facebook Learning Group.
  • Agorapulse for social media management.
  • StreamYard for live streaming and webinars.

Well, that’s all from me folks. For more great ideas from the chat, take a look at this Twitter Moment that our team member Joanna put together. Thanks for reading and if you have some time to spare next Thursday afternoon, join us for our next #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.

Happy holidays from #TwitterSmarter!

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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