6 DEC 2010 1
Social media isn’t all about building a solid community. You also have to create constructive discussions or, at a bare minimum, provide your members with insightful pieces of information. In other words, you should give them reasons for why they should be staying with you. This post will outline several key steps in maintaining your community once you’ve grown it.
Social media users have problems they need help with. Share your experience with them, answer their questions or, at least, point them in the right direction. It’s not only that your community will be thankful for your assistance, but you will also build trust and credibility. Others will refer people to your company—“These guys know their stuff!”. You will get qualified leads if your product matches the needs of your community and can resolve problems.
Not maintaining a proactive attitude with your community could bring your social media efforts to a halt. Someone else will provide what you aren't and drive sales away from you. There is nothing worse than having a competitor build a credibility higher than yours in your own community.
Business social media is all about two way communication. You need to engage your community at a personal level. Social media users expect replies to direct questions, and you shouldn’t overlook this. To the furthest extent possible, answer each and every DM and @reply on Twitter as well as your wall comments on Facebook. Check out your followers’ profiles and tweets, find out their interests and engage in conversations with them. Ask questions! And by that I don’t only mean putting up surveys every once in a while—go one step beyond and try to reach out on personal level. If @bob is a huge Asus fan and you are an Acer retailer, try to find why he’s so fond of the brand. This will show @bob that you care about his needs and, who knows, you might turn him into an Acer fan.
… but do it in due time. Don’t blog or tweet about an event ten days after just because you didn’t feel like writing a few notes on it for such a long time. Your community most likely found out everything there is to know about the conference you attended two weeks ago from the blogs of the other participants, people who could bother to fire up Flickr and upload some pictures.
Likewise, don’t bore your readers with news they wouldn’t care about. It’s alright to blog and tweet about your blogmeet in Sackville on Wednesday noon, it’s alright to publish photos of it on your Facebook account, but don’t push it. Don’t put up a second article on the same event, unless something major went on in the mean time (like your company adding an immensely important customer to its portfolio following that meeting.)
All in all, once you’ve built your community, you’d better take care of it. The Internet is a highly competitive, fast-moving marketplace. It can take years to build a solid followers base and only hours to lose it. A large community is an invaluable asset; a lot of marketers would trade a limb for 1,000,000 subscribers. Make sure you don’t lose yours.