When working in Social Media, it can be tempting to take the numbers at face value and to be carried away with counting likes, comments, @mentions and re-pins. But you have to resist the urge – these metrics are important, but they’re not the most important element.
When we talk about Social Media, we’re really talking about tools that allow us to engage with an online community, so whilst it’s imperative that you know how to use the tools in the most precise, careful and efficient manner, it is the online community that is key.
“A social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.”
Online, communities can be found in many guises from topic-specific forums to niche #tags around a live event like #cheltjazzfest. So the real trick to being successful in Social Media is in identifying the glue that will hold your online community together. Here are The Real Adventure’s four steps to starting (or re-evaluating) an online community:
- Firstly, identify the community you want to engage and understand why they would engage with you. What is the passion, problem, concern, issue or question that you can connect with your community about? And why would they connect with you about it?
- Then ask yourself how do you find these people and help them to find you? Likes on Facebook or Followers on Twitter do not necessarily make an online community.
- How do you build a great relationship with them? A community needs someone to fulfil the ‘party host’ role to help moderate it so that it is a productive and friendly place for all. And someone who acts as the link between the organisation and the online community is, in our opinion, a ‘must have’.
- And lastly, how do you help them feel like a real community? How are you going to help them nurture their identity as “distinct”, thereby making them feel special?
With all the excitement around Social Media, it can be easy to forget what we have known for years about online communities and what makes them tick – it’s not about where they’ve gathered, it’s what they’ve gathered for.