'I’m a Social Media Manager Charged with Building Community on Social. Here’s How I’m Doing It'
Learn how to use social media to build community, foster meaningful connections, and gather valuable insights for your brand.
Many community pros will bristle at the idea that a social media following is a community. But the reality is that more and more businesses are opting to meet their customers where they are, and foster a sense of connection there.
I work for a social media scheduler called HeyOrca that’s building community on our social channels. Why? This is where our target audience — which includes Social Media Managers — hangs out most! We also manage a Facebook Group called HeyOrca Community, where Social Media Managers can keep up with the latest trends and ask for advice. Our community within our social channels feeds into our Facebook Group and vice versa.
While social media is often used just as a place to broadcast your brand’s message to the masses, it can be a lot more than that. If you’re looking to maximize your impact, building a community on social media will help you build relationships, foster connections with your audience, and boost your reach and visibility. Plus, a strong community can help you gather valuable feedback and insights about your brand, product, or services.
If this sparks your interest, let me take you through what I’ve learned when it comes to creating a community on social media.
1. Find out where your audience hangs out
Knowing where your ideal audience hangs out means you can really hone in on that specific community and nurture it. To do this:
- Analyze the engagement metrics of your social channels
- Rank them from most engaged to least engaged
- Concentrate on the top one or two channels
By narrowing it down, you can focus your efforts on the platforms your audience is active on and engage with them there. You’ll also avoid stretching yourself thin across every single social media channel and prevent burnout.
HeyOrca has profiles on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. That’s a lot! We noticed that trying to grow our community on every channel wasn’t the best use of our time. We analyzed our metrics and found that our audience hangs out on Instagram as the top channel and LinkedIn as the runner up.
Going forward, we focused more of our time on those two channels. As a result, we’re able to create better quality content (quality over quantity always), which results in better quality engagement including relevant discussions, questions, and longer comments that aren’t just an emoji.
2. Get your community to engage with one another
What’s a better feeling than checking your brand’s social channels and seeing your audience engaging with your post? Seeing your audience engaging with one another in your comments and making connections.
It can be tricky getting that type of engagement going, but have no fear! I have a few tips for you on how you can get conversation flowing.
- Ask open-ended questions: Encourage your followers to share their thoughts and opinions by asking questions that can’t be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”.
- Share relatable content: Post content that your followers can relate to and that they’ll want to discuss with others. Look for what topics normally do well and create new content around these topics.
- Respond to comments: Stay on top of responding and engaging with your followers. If they see that you’re engaging, it may encourage them to engage as well.
👉 Actionable tip: Instead of responding to comments one at a time (and risk missing something valuable), block out some time on your calendar every day that’s dedicated to engaging with comments and questions.
- Create challenges: Host fun challenges that require your followers to comment and engage with one another.
- Ask a controversial question: Asking a question around a hot trending topic will always spark engagement. That said, make sure you’re creating a respectful and safe environment for your community to share.
- Best practices: Ask your audience to share their best practices or tips around a topic or your product.
Remember, the more you can get your community engaging with one another, the stronger the sense of community will be!
👉 Actionable tip: Analyze a few communities that you really admire. Take note of what kind of posts they’re creating to generate community engagement and use it as inspiration!
3. Make time to moderate
Your community is starting to take off! As tempting as it may be to let all comments fly, the internet can be a dark place. Moderating lets you create a safe space for people to share their opinions without fear of harassment or bullying.
Plus, keeping an eye on comments allows you to address questions or feedback your audience may have. By responding thoughtfully, you show your audience that you care about their opinions.
So what does successful moderation look like? It’s all about balance. Something I’ve learned from managing my community is that it’s completely okay to allow constructive criticism and different opinions. Some friendly banter and respectful debate are OK! But, if you see something that violates your community guidelines, remove it. Your audience is counting on you to create a positive and safe space for them.
4. Remember, less is more
When it comes to managing a social media community, I find myself constantly thinking of ideas and wanting to try different things. It’s great to experiment, but know that you don’t need to do everything all at once. Social media management is stressful enough.
I like to make a backlog of my ideas and slowly go through the list over a few months. Besides, when trying a new approach, you want to make sure you give it at least two weeks to a month to see how your audience is responding to it. Focus on one idea at a time, and really dive into it so that, at the end of your experiment, you can clearly see if it worked or not.
5. Keep up with the changes
This part may be a touchy subject for Social Media Managers, because the social media industry is constantly changing (we’re looking at you Adam Mosseri!). There’s a new update to the algorithms or new features to learn each week, and it can get really overwhelming.
I find the best way to keep up with the latest headlines and changes within the industry is to join a Community of Practice. Just because you run a community doesn’t mean you can’t be a part of other ones as a member.
There are also so many newsletters and Facebook Groups to join that act as a incredible resources for this ever-changing industry. Here are some of my favorites:
- HeyOrca Community Facebook Group and newsletter
- Social Media Geekout Facebook Group
- Rachel Karten’s newsletter Link in Bio
- The Daily Carnage Facebook Group and newsletter
To me, the best way to run a successful community is to be an active participant in the communities you know and love. Not only does this help your own knowledge and networking, but it can act as market research. Watching how other groups are facilitated can help generate inspiration and ideas for your own community. I always like to take note of what makes me want to stay in a community and what makes me want to leave one. It’s valuable information that’s right in front of me.
Next stop: a thriving social media community! Remember, social media isn’t just about pushing out content and hoping for the best. It’s also about building relationships, fostering connections, and creating an engaged community.