The Art and Science of Building a Social Community: Strategies To Use

Melissa Fach

Aug 26, 20195 min read
The Art and Science of Building a Social Community

Our team had a very detailed and informative conversation in last week's  SEMrushchat, and the information shared could help small business owners, marketers, and agencies. Our guest, Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré, and our community shared insights about what makes them engage with online communities, and the strategies that have helped them build a community through social media. 

Chat participants also shared the one tactic they would use for community building, techniques on dealing with awkward communication, incentives to engage community members, and they discussed the things that drive them away from communities. 

There were several useful tips any marketer can use, so we tried to choose tweets for our recap that offered a variety of insights for our readers. 

What is the reason to join a community and be active there? 

"What emotions motivate your members? It’s a question well-worth asking." —  Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

"For learning new things and giving back to the community by sharing what you know. It's how we built the internet - never forget." —  Simon Cox

"The #semrushchat is a great example. People crave a place to share and exchange ideas. Social media communities are one way to engage with like-minded individuals who share similar challenges – and those who may have a fresh perspective and, therefore, unique solutions." — BrandExtract

"I actually just recently joined a new community for the following reasons: Like-minded individuals with various backgrounds. Positive vibe Fulfils my need for contact (I work remotely). Provides educational material for freelancers." —  Alizée Baudez

"IS THERE HIGH VALUE FOR ME? The content shared should educate, entertain, support. Are the others in the community likeminded and Civil (can’t be sure these days)? Is the value MORE than another activity? You have to beat out Netflix for many people!!!" — Mark Gustafson

"Digital marketing isn't a vacuum; it's constantly shifting and evolving. You need to have people that you can collaborate with and bounce ideas off of." —  Brian Kato

What is the one tactic you would choose to build a community from scratch? 

"Join existing conversations. Form genuine relationships without an agenda. Determine how you can offer value without asking how to offer value." — Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

"Engage, engage, engage! Joining Twitter chats, sharing content from others, starting conversations, joining in conversations. Engagement is key when it comes to building a community!" — Tamara

"Develop great content that can be used in paid ads targeting specific prospects and audience segments that will find the most value in the content you developed. From there, I would actively engage in social forums / discussions directly with audiences as well." —  Patrick Delehanty

"Build slowly. It's not that rapid growth is bad. But having fewer authentic and engaged followers is more important than having lots of them. I'd rather have 100 great connections than 100,000 meaningless ones." —  Fistbump Media

"I would segment them more so they are in more little communities. If you are a cell phone store you should have little communities of iPhone, android users rather than have one big community. There's power in large micro-communities." —  Ryan Bennion

H.E.L.P. - Humanize your message, Encourage Conversation, Listen first, Promote less. More of a philosophy than tactic." —  Kevin Mullett

How do you pass through the awkward prase of conversations that feel forced, and people are not initiating conversations on their own? 

"Never ever negatively criticise anyone at this stage even in jest - you need to feel your way first. Be kind and gentle." — Simon Cox

"Own your newness in the community and on the platform. Provide as much value as possible and ask for guidance when you're not sure what is expected, appreciated, and preferred in the community. Authenticity is the antidote for awkward." —  Pair Networks

"It comes down to being comfortable with the conversation itself. If it feels forced then it might be the right person or topic to talk about. Doing it over & over again also makes the conversations easier. And get over it and just start the conversations yourself." —  Diana Richardson

"By making the first move! Start the conversation and give others the opportunity to give their 2 cents." —  Elena Salazar

"Don't try to sound as formal and professional as possible. People are more receptive to those who express transparency and personality. Also, patience is key!" —  Tamara

"Initiate your OWN conversations! Building a strong social media presence may take some time, but there's nothing wrong with making the first move. Failure is not the opposite of success; it's part of success!" —  Ben Austin

Which incentives should you use to motivate members to engage more? 

"Have conversations with your most active members to find out what emotions motivate them — and then strategize ways to amplify those emotions to strengthen your community. Be sure to drill down to very specific emotions." — Nichole Elizabeth DeMeré

"I try to ask questions I know others are thinking. Or talk about problems I know others are facing. If you relate to people, they'll engage. Talk WITH them, not AT them." —  Christian Lowery

"I like to switch the flip on this one. I don't create content in the hopes it will engage I create content to respond to content or questions from my community." —  Dan Willis

"I like the recap/round-ups that #SEMrushchat has. IMHO, this helps create a highlight reel that can encourage members to bring their best to the table." —  Brian Kato

"Going to be a little specific on this one, but recently we have loved asking our subscribers if they would like to be featured on our blog. We like sharing stories about how people use readability and shining a light on what they do builds great rapport too." —  Readable

"Theoretically, the biggest incentive of joining a community is new knowledge. The more members share, the more they will learn. Set your members up for success with advice threads, ways to connect with industry resources and relevant newsworthy content." —  Builder Designs

What behaviors reduce community activity or force members to leave? 

"Driving people away from a community is fairly easy: incivility, unhelpful, rude divisive, not sharing value, selling all the time bait and switch tactics. t=The list could go on and on." —  Gene Petrov

"Being intolerant of others' viewpoints. Not being receptive to new ideas. Not being inclusive enough. Being deferential towards some and not others. I guess there are lots of behaviours which would be unacceptable to a community." —  Nicky Pasquier

"In addition to other great answers: sales pitches. People think they are being cute at hiding them. (You're not fooling anyone.) Slow your role. Let's cuddle first." —  Kevin Mullett

"Rubbing people the wrong way. Allowing/not dealing with bullying/negativity. Spamming your audience's feed. Not engaging back." —  ThinkSEM

"Constant sales pitches. Repeated 'DM me for more info' to simple questions. - Rude/disrespectful people. No response from the admins or creator of the group." —  Diana Richardson

"Lack of rich content. Why be apart of something if you aren't learning from it!" —  D2 Creative

Do You Have Any Suggestions for Community Building?

If so, please share them in the comments below. We also want to thank everyone that participated in the chat. Join us every Wednesday at 11 am ET/4 pm BST for #SEMrushchat on Twitter and gain insights from some of the best marketers in the industry. 

Author Photo
Melissa FachUS Personality of the Year 2017 Winner and die-hard Star Wars fan. Herder of cats. Non-cook. Find me on Twitter @SEOaware.
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