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How to Build a Strong Community #semrushchat

Elena Terenteva
How to Build a Strong Community #semrushchat

Building a strong and loyal community will take time and patience, and at first, it will require a lot of commitment as well. But it’s not a “mission impossible” sort of thing. Think about growing a community like making friends – it fun, it’s easy, and it’s interesting!

Take a look at this recap of our recent Twitter Chat, which we could also call “How to Make a Lot of Friends” with tips from the SEMrush social media team and hundreds of our followers friends.

Question 1 picture

The beginning of any journey can be tough – you have a lot of options, a lot of preparations to make, some vague goals, and no sure fire strategy that will lead to success. Where should a business owner/ blogger/ company start when it comes to community building? At the beginning? Unfortunately there is no one recipe for success.

But as every journey begins with step one, communicating with people begins with a greeting.

Follow, follow, follow and encourage others to follow you. “Start by searching for a topic of interest. See who's talking about said topic, and follow them” - Liz Da Ponte ‏@lizdaponte. You can also use some tools to identify your target audience: “Honestly, I love something like @Sentic and @Cision to help crawl the crowd in the beginning and find those early followers” - Reva Minkoff ‏@revaminkoff.

Don’t forget about the people closest to you. “Share your new network with your friends and relatives. Start there for immediate connections” - Julia McCoy ‏@JuliaEMcCoy. And remember to follow your entire phone book – connections you have offline can be easily converted to online ones.

And of course tell your users that you now have a Twitter account! “Encourage your email subscribers and blog readers to follow you on Twitter. Add 'follow us' CTAs” - Olga Andrienko ‏@OlgaSEMrush. At the same time, it’s crucial to pay close attention to your profile’s content – provide relevant information about yourself or about your company, and provide users with “content that is educational, inspirational and/or entertaining” - Omi Sido ‏@OmiSido. “Add value to what you do, and people will value you” - Bill Slawski ‏@bill_slawski.

Remember that your content flow should be consistent. Nobody likes a conversation that goes unexpectedly silent.

Question 2 picture It’s toolkit time! It really amazes me how many tools can help you with your social media endeavors – from tools that can help you to expand your list of followers to your services, which can help with your content scheduling and posting. Social Media toolkit picture@E_Perstneva@OlgaSEMrush@Tripp_Hamilton@JoeRega@TajFirstBase @netvantage@erikcampoparra@DOZCOM@ProvokeOnline@JRiddall @jacquesbouchard@deanbrady@ColtSTaylor@DpanshuGahlaut@sofianicool

What is your most effective way of building and strengthening your community? We don’t like awkward pauses in conversations, and we don’t like people cutting conversations short in the middle. Well, the same thing goes for social media. People don’t like silence, so be consistent!

But here we are not just talking about scheduling and posting regularly. Also, be consistent in your presentation, your voice and your company’s personality. “Have a persona and stick with it” - Thom Craver ‏@thomcraver.

Simply put – act like a human! “Be real! You wouldn't meet someone at a party and not talk to them. You're a human - act like it!” - ThinkSEM ‏@ThinkSEM. Don’t think that social is just about collecting followers who will share your content. Giving back is the main point of interacting with people; so don’t just collect followers, considering that they are there to share your messages. Engage, keep in touch, communicate, and share, share, share!

If you are not sure about your ability to create your own valuable content, share content from industry influencers! And also get them to follow you as well.

Another way to attract new followers and also create some buzz around your brand – Twitter chats! You can either create your own, or participate in relevant chats hosted by companies you share an audience with.

One of the most amazing things about social media – you can forget about KPIs and measure your number of followers and how often they are sharing your content; in other words, when you stop caring only about your brand and yourself and concentrate more on people, they will come through for you!

How do you define a strong community? Okay, maybe numbers and statistics are not very important, but still – how can you know that your community is doing well and that your efforts are paying off? Well, it’s not a riddle wrapped up in an enigma. Once again – be human. How do you know if someone is a friend in real life?

Friends also protect and support you. “Fans will protect your brand when someone tries to attack it on social” - Olga Andrienko ‏@OlgaSEMrush.

They also have no reason to leave you or not listen to what you are saying.

A good friend will always give you good advice – even if you don’t ask for it. If you provide your audience with relevant information and help solve their problems, your community will definitely grow.

Is your number of followers a good indicator of a strong community? Yes and no. If you have 500,000 followers but a poor rate of engagement, it’s time to rethink your strategy.

Remaining dedicated to what you’re doing and saying is a really good metric to focus on. Dozens of brand advocates can spread the word about your business much more effectively than a huge amount of unengaged followers.

What mistakes will wreak the most havoc on your community building?

Not let’s point out some mistakes you should avoid when focusing on community building.

The biggest mistake ever is silence!

Talk to your audience; reply to them. Ignoring them and remaining silent is a very unhealthy practice, and it will make your audience turn away. Self-promoting is another thing you shouldn’t do too frequently. Do we really need to point out that no one likes egocentric people?

Speaking of your audience’s needs and interests – knowing your audience is crucial. Don’t waste your time “sharing the wrong content and engaging with the wrong audience” - Erik Campo ‏@erikcampoparra.

And also, don’t dictate to users what they need to like and care about, or how they should act and perceive your messages.

And finally – let’s repeat it once again – remember that your followers are real people. If KPIs come first and users’ needs are second in your list of priorities, your followers will quickly disappear.

How can marketers show profits from building an online community? Is it possible to track ROI?

This is a tough one. How can you measure profit from a relationship? Not an easy question, but we’ll try to answer it.

But first, let’s agree on one point:

So choose the right metrics first. Of course you can measure your sales through social, but making it your one and only important metric might be the wrong strategy. The whole picture is much wider and more diverse.

“Conversion and click through rates, along with extended reach can also be metrics” - Sherry Smith Gray ‏@sherisaid

Speaking of profits from community building – one thing is very obvious and incontestable.

But there are other things:

As Olga Andrienko ‏@OlgaSEMrush pointed out, “building a community is all about retention; users who are emotionally attached to a brand will remain customers for a long time.” Is retention profitable? Yes! Can you measure it? Most likely not. Should you worry about it? Probably not. Having a good friend can be priceless.

That’s it for today. Thanks to all who participated in this chat, and thank you, dear reader! See you next Wednesday as usual. #semrushchat

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Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush. Elena has eight years public relations and journalism experience, working as a broadcasting journalist, PR/Content manager for IT and finance companies.
Bookworm, poker player, good swimmer.
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