You’ve carefully plotted your content plan. You’ve scheduled posts to go out every day. But for some reason, your audience remains an unsolved mystery. How can you effectively turn a social media audience into a passionate, engaged community?
In this series, we’re talking to real marketers and brands about how they did it. In our previous blog, we focused on creating meaningful conversation. This time, we’re investigating how offering real value - to your customers, your community, and your industry - can help you convert silent social lurkers into engaged customers.
‘One of the best ways to turn an audience into a community is to actually converse with them’ - David Latimer, Head of Marketing
It is safe to assume that there are few communities in the world quite as passionate as dog owners. Pampered pooches exist the world over and for pet brand Petzyo, they set out to create a 100% Australian made and owned company that delivers premium dog food, delivered straight to your door. So how could they capitalise on this ready-made audience?
For David Latimer, the key was to offer value to their customers through conversation and engagement. “Find out what [your audience’s] pain points are and provide realistic solutions, not just rhetoric or stuff you looked up on the internet,” said David. “Basically, we’re talking about authenticity, which can go a long way in creating a community from an audience.” Through understanding their customer’s needs, Petzyo were perfectly positioned to create content that offered real value.
‘When I first started in the 90s, I created a community by accident’ - Michel Fortin, Director of Search
Michel Fortin, Director of Search at Seoplus+, has been building communities before they even came to be thought of as a marketing channel. Michel’s first foray into community building was a happy accident, created out of a desire for two-way conversation and honest feedback. “I published a newsletter offering marketing advice,” said Michel. “Since I was looking for business, I wanted to have an open discussion about my industry in an effort to woo potential clients.”
The result? “A community of people brought together by common goals, activities, issues, and challenges. We brainstormed out solutions. We shared resources.” Developing a community of this nature didn’t just foster relationships, it added value to a thriving community of marketing professionals. “By the early 2000s, that community reached 70,000 active members,” said Michel. An impressive result in the pre-social media age.
‘A community is more likely to read your content and turn to your brand for insights’ - Loren Howard, Founder
Getting a foot on the real estate ladder can be challenging at the best of times, which is why Loren Howard built a company that specialises in hard money loans for property developers and other real estate professionals looking to develop a portfolio. In Loren’s opinion, building a community creates an audience of warm prospects and provides “a great way to build trust in your brand.” To do this, Prime Plus Mortgages focused on bringing the social back to social media.
“Faceless brands are hard to trust, sharing the human side of your business is the key to a better community,” said Loren. “Creating content that puts the community’s needs first instead of sales pitches will be more trusted.” This is valuable insight. By providing value, Prime Plus Mortgages were able to generate more reputable referrals and demonstrate they care about their customers, which also led to more word-of-mouth among first-time investors.
‘People will only interact with you if you provide them a lot of value’ - Jennifer Foster, Managing Editor
Sometimes, the way to transform your audience into a powerful community is written in the stars. Or at least it was for Authority Astrology, a place where astrology enthusiasts can come together to find information about their star signs and what it could mean for their relationships. According to Jennifer Foster, “if you want to foster true community within your tribe, you must first address their issues.”
Jennifer suggests several ways of offering value to your community, “use social listening to find out what your audience's problems are. Ask questions on Facebook [and] organise Instagram Q&A sessions to learn about the issues that your followers are facing.” Armed with this kind of information, you’re primed educate and assist your community, by developing content across your digital channels that serves a purpose.
‘I wanted to create an environment where people could come together around topics they were passionate about’ - Ella Hao, Head of Digital Marketing
Much like Michel, Ella Hao of WellPCB has been on a personal journey when it comes to transforming an audience into a community. Her story began with a blog over ten years ago. “One of the most challenging things about blogging is that it can feel like you’re writing into a void with no response of feedback,” said Ella. “I wanted to create an environment where people could come together around topics they were passionate about.”
In Ella’s view, “a community is much more than a group of people that like your page or follow you”. To enable this, Ella focused on creating a connection by sharing relevant content, providing opportunities to discuss and interact through different digital channels, and helping the community develop relationships by solving problems together. “Commit to the process and you’ll be surprised by how your audience responds!”
‘Ensure your content provides key elements to attract, engage, and retain followers’ - Kaare Long, CEO
When setting out to transform their audience into community, Kaare Long noticed a significant challenge in effectively and consistency reaching their ideal audience. “As social media evolves, it has also become more difficult to get your content seen, due to algorithms designed to filter through the mass amount of information out there,” said Kaare. How can brands continue to grow, develop and nurture their communities in an increasingly difficult online environment?
For A Cue Creative Consulting, it’s all about putting a plan in place. “Social media is informed by a larger, more detailed, marketing strategy and plan that is specific to your business and your brand,” Kaare revealed. “You need to ensure that the content you provide contains enough value to ensure continued shares and engagement.” This requires keeping your finger on the pulse of what matters to your community, devoting time and energy to ensure the value you want to add serves its purpose and is well received.
‘I could turn own-way communication into two-way and multi-way, host live events specifically for my community members and share exclusive content’ - Natalie Luneva, CMO & Performance Coach
After years of experience growing ad nurturing communities, Natalie Luneva of SaaS Boss introduced a new channel into the marketing mix, by founding the SaaS Boss Community on Facebook. According to Natalie, the Facebook group and supplementary podcast “played a big role in engaging and educating community members.” By blending content with personal community engagement in an informal setting, it has been possible to develop an engaged community of 3,000 people.
The beauty of a community of this nature is the range of benefits for both Natalie and the members. “My community has helped and is still helping SaaS founders in many ways - connecting with each other, finding new employees and employers, sharing interesting posts, announcing new SaaS launches - and more,” said Natalie. It’s worth noting here that content doesn’t only need to come from the brand, a self-sufficient community brings value by sharing knowledge among themselves.
Looking for more inspiration to transform your audiences into engaged communities? Stay tuned for the next blog in the series or browse the Audiense blog.